It's funny that you'd mention that because at times I feel the same way on the opposite end of the spectrum. But, looking back, I'd say there is a fair balance of both, but that not everyone posts as much. I know that it's easier for me to come in here when I'm having a good day and post then when I'm having a rough day. Not sure why, but, when I'm having a rough day, I tend to post in the general folder - I think because I get a lot of feed back in there because more people visit it.
And, COSA for me is the complete opposite. I only know one other woman (from what I can see) who's H is in active recovery and she's been in the group 17 years!
Ignorance was bliss but it wasn't the reality of my marriage...
when I'm having a rough day, I tend to post in the general folder
And, on that note - I just posted in the general folder because I have had a crappy week
In the past his display of self
centeredness (justify his actions and
ignor my needs) would have caused
me to try to get him to respond to
my needs and I would grow
frustrated. This time I let him drone
on not interrupting. Calmly saying
how I felt, including how I didn't feel
compassion that I needed given another DDay.
I gave him an ultimatum to go NC. And he did. And he started IC all on his own the next day. He turned to me for emotional support around going NC. I kind of enjoyed saying how horrible for you it must have been talking with HER ( see is long distance) so thet had to end it by phone.
My COSA program tools have helped me stay centered and present like never before. I am growing as a person.
[This message edited by twokids at 7:58 AM, February 4th (Friday)]
then you set the consequence.
My consequence is that he has to move out if it happens again.
Also, what is "it?" You have to be very, very specific.
The main key, however, is this: "When we set a boundary, we let go of the outcome."
When you say he has to move out are you doing so in the hopes it will "wake him up" and he'll change? Is it basically a threat or an ultimatum in the hopes he'll do what you want? Is it actually a manipulation.
If so, it's not a viable or healthy consequence.
Whatever the consequence is, you have to 100% be able to follow through (including being able to physically enforce it) and you have to be fully able to surrender the outcome. Meaning, if the consequence is that you separate you have to fully accept that that could be the end of the marriage. Period. If he chooses to continue acting out, it's over. You are not letting him back into your life.
That's why boundaries and consequences are so hard. You need to go back to your IC and ask her to HELP YOU figure it out, not just say, "do this" with no guidance.
Here is a website that is really good.
i truly believe i have low tolerances and strict boundaries...but when i hear you say," can you physically enforce..." i am so freaked out. no, i cannot MAKE him leave. and right now. this is where i am at. he broke OUR "rule"...now, he is NOT respecting the consequence that was set for this this breaking of a mutually set mariatl boundary.
The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. That we have not only the right, but the duty, to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.
The first thing that we need to learn to do is communicate without blaming. That means, stop saying things like: you make me so angry; you hurt me; you make me crazy; how could you do that to me after all I have done for you; etc. These are the very types of messages we got in childhood that have so warped our perspective on our own emotional process.
The above may have been the single hardest thing for me.
I have edited the following to be simpler and to fit SA.
So, it is very important for us to learn to communicate about how another person's behavior is affecting us - without making blaming "you" type of statements. There is a simple formula to help us do this. It is:
When you . . .
I feel . . .
If you... I will... (this is the actual boundary and consequence portion)
Here is an explanation of each statement:
The "When you . . ." statement is a description of behavior. It is very important to actually describe the behavior. Do not generalize. Statements like "if you hurt me again..." or "if you act this way..." are too general. BE SPECIFIC. You know his acting out behaviors. LIST THEM.
Try to avoid generalizations about your feelings as well. Because a major facet of codependence is assuming, interpreting, mind reading, and fortune telling - due to our childhood conditioning. We think we know the intentions and motives of others. We assume that they are conscious of their behavior and will know what we are talking about. They have NO CLUE. Be specific.
It is vital to realize that we do not know how to communicate in a direct and honest manner. We need to stop interpreting and start communicating. It is important to describe the behavior rather than our interpretation and assumptions about what the behavior means.
Usually, when we first confront such behavior in a healthy way, the SA will profess innocence and ignorance of what we are talking about. But, by describing the behavior, we will be planting seeds of consciousness in them that may eventually cause them to get more conscious of actions. Describing behavior is an important step towards making it possible for the SA to get past their toxic shame so that they can start seeing a boundary between being and behavior.
We of course, are powerless over them - over whether they get it, or understand what we are doing. But in learning to communicate in a healthy way, without blame and shame, we are maximizing the possibility of communication.
The "I feel . . . " statement is where we learn to express our emotions in a healthy and honest way.
It is best to use primary feeling words* when expressing the "I feel . . . " part of this formula - but it is also OK to use words that describe the messages we feel are inherent in their behaviors.
*There are only a handful of primary feelings that all humans feel. There is some dispute about just how many there are primary but for our purpose here I am going to use seven. Those are: angry, sad, hurt, afraid, lonely, ashamed, and happy. It is important to start using the primary names of these feelings in order to own them and to stop distancing ourselves from the feelings. To say "I am anxious" or "concerned" or "apprehensive" is not the same as saying "I am afraid." Fear is at the root of all those other expressions but we don't have to be so aware of our fear if we use a word that distances us from fear. Expressions like "confused," "irritated," "upset," "tense," "disturbed," "melancholy," "blue," "good," or "bad" are not primary feeling words.
An example of a "When I" statement, followed by "I Feel" statement specific to SA:
When you look at pornography...
I feel angry, hurt, discounted, unimportant, insignificant, invisible, unwanted, ugly. It feels like you do not want to be with me.
It is important to state our feelings out loud, and to precede the feeling with "I feel." When we say "I am angry, I'm hurt, etc." we are stating that the feeling is who we are. Emotions do not define us, they are a form of internal communication that help us to understand ourselves. They are a vital part of our being - as a component of the whole. This is owning the feeling. It is important to do for ourselves. By stating the feeling out loud we are affirming that we have a right to feelings. We are affirming it to ourselves - and taking responsibility for owning ourselves and our reality. Whether the other person can hear us and understand is not as important as hearing ourselves and understanding that we have a right to our feelings. It is vitally important to own our own voice. To own our right to speak up for ourselves.
Now the meat and potatoes... Setting the Boundary and Consequences
There are basically three parts to a boundary. The first two are setting the boundary - the third is what we will do to defend that boundary.
If you - a description of the behavior we find unacceptable (again being as specific as possible.)
I will - a description of what action you will take to protect and take care of your self in the event the other person violates the boundary. This CANNOT be an idle threat. This must be something you CAN and WILL enforce. You MUST surrender the outcome.
If you continue this behavior - a description of what steps you will take to protect the boundary that you have set.
It is not always necessary or appropriate to share the third part of this formula with the other person when setting a boundary - the first two steps are the actual setting of the boundary. The third part is something we need to know for ourselves, so that we know what action we can take if the other person violates the boundary. If we set a boundary and expect the other person to abide by it automatically - then we are setting ourselves up to be a victim of our expectation.
It is not enough to set boundaries - it is necessary to be willing to do whatever it takes to enforce them. We need to be willing to go to any length, do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.
It is very important to set consequences that we are willing to enforce. If you are setting boundaries in a relationship, and you are not yet at a point where you are ready to leave the relationship - then don't say that you will leave. You can say that you will start considering all of your options including leaving - but do not state that you will do something that you are not ready yet to do. To set boundaries and not enforce them just gives the other person an excuse to continue in the same old behavior.
The consequences we set down for behavior we find unacceptable should be realistic - in that, the change that we are asking for is something that is within the others power (whether they are willing to take that responsibility is another thing altogether) - and enforceable, something that we are willing to do.
Setting a boundary is not making a threat - it is communicating clearly what the consequences will be if the other person continues to treat us in an unacceptable manner. It is a consequence of the other persons behavior.
Setting a boundary is not an attempt to control the other person (although some of the people who you set boundaries with will certainly accuse you of that - just as some will interpret it as a threat) - it is a part of the process of defining ourselves and what is acceptable to us. It is a major step in taking what control we can of how we allow others to treat us. It is a vital step in taking responsibility for our self and our life.
Setting boundaries is not a more sophisticated way of manipulation - although some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to manipulate. The difference between setting a boundary in a healthy way and manipulating is: when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome.
We want the other person to change their behavior. We hope they will. But we need to own all of our choices in order to empower ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and stop setting ourselves up to be a victim. One of our choices is to remove ourselves from relationship with the person. We can leave a marriage. We can end a friendship. We can leave a job. We do not have to have any contact with our family of origin. It is vitally important to own all of our choices.
If we do not own that we have a choice to leave an abusive relationship - then we are not making a choice to stay in the relationship. Any time we do not own our choices, we are empowering victimization. We will then blame the other person, and/or blame ourselves. It is a vital part of the process of learning to love ourselves, and taking responsibility for being a co-creator in our life, to own all of our choices.
Again, I edited that pretty liberally. Please do read the original site. It's not perfect but there is a TON of good information there.
I have a set of boundaries/consequences which I have shared before. If you want to see them, just ask, I'll post again. Be aware that they were written AFTER my SA was in treatment and sober. I didn't figure this out until then.
[This message edited by 7yrsbetrayed at 2:27 AM, February 5th (Saturday)]
I am ready to give up outcome.
MC had great point- you can love him and support him in his recovery, but not at the expense of you and your feelings of self-worth. I have to take care of myself and kids and keep me safe. I can't do that if he's
Whether he is actually diagnosed as one or not I was hoping I could come here and ask about Porn Blocking?
I unfortunately don't have a lot of time to skim through all the threads so I was hoping I could get some information.
I did a search and looked at reviews of different Porn Blocking Programs.
I am thinking about buying Net Nanny?
Any recommendations at all?
You know, I have to fight the urge sometimes to want to feel like the "odd man out". It sounds as though most of the people here have partners who are in recovery. The same is true in the COSA group I have been going to.
My WS isn't in recovery either. My S-Anon group seems to have people with partners who are in recovery programs as well. It is discouraging to feel you are the "only one". You're right that we can be in own recovery anyway!
There's a yahoo group for COSA online. I posed your same question there, after an online meeting, and got a lot of quick responses that many of them also had partners not in recovery. This group might be a good option for you. I can help you find the link for it, if you want.
My WS is agreeing to be evaluated by a CSAT, and may make the call this week. Even doing that, there's no guarantee that he will start recovery work.
It's one day at a time for me. I am not posting here as much as I might, due to so much uncertainty in my life these days. I did catch him with a prostitute again. Much to deal with. We had a marathon session with MC, in which WS did decide to confess, and things have been so good since then. It's been the experience I wish I had a year ago when I found out about his cheating. He's been open, forthcoming with hard answers to icky questions, engaged in caring about my reactions, remorseful, motivated, loving. I wish I could say I feel hopeful, but I don't let myself. There's just so much that could go wrong, and so much work that needs to be done. I'm working on me and what I am supposed to be doing to take care of myself. (Met with lawyer, etc.)
I have no idea what to say to him. I need to keep it non-emotional, be matter of fact and non-threatening, and still let him know how much I love him and support him in his recovery.
I'm trying to work on this same stuff. Now that I see WS as addicted/needing help, I am able to be loving and supportive, while watching out for myself. Prior to seeing him as truly ill, I was very angry at him. It took me almost a year to get to this point.
Because my WS tends to feel rejected by me when I don't think I am rejecting him, I am hoping to communicate to him more carefully. I want him to know my actions are to protect myself, not to punish him. I've been working on a list of my "values". I hope to have some sort of document to clarify how my actions are to protect these things that I value.
For instance, "financial security". I'm very nervous about going forward in a marriage with WS, without knowing what my financial situation would be should he cheat again. I'm taking actions to determine what that is.
"Dignity" - obviously, his cheating robs me of this. Should he cheat again, I would choose not to remain married. I want him to know it wouldn't be because I don't love him; it would be because his actions took away something important to me.
What I've done up until now, though, is make sure that there is a consequence for WS's actions, whether he knows about it or not. For months, the consequence for me not trusting him was for me to work harder on the things that the attorney suggested or requested. It helps you feel empowered if there is a consequence for their actions, whether you choose to tell them or not. Another thing I did was start to figure out what I am going to do with the rest of my life, given that it might be different than I thought.
This value, boundary and consequence stuff is really difficult for me, and as I examine it, I see why. I haven't taken care of myself the way I should. It's discouraging, but it shows me the path I need to take.
I'm not sure I am having much success in expressing myself here. I think I would like to say, it's a process. If you are like me, you won't just type out a list overnight and be done with it. I'd love to hear what you come up with, if you can share it. Good luck.
eta: For a long time, the consequence for many of WS's actions was to "re-evaluate my desire to remain in the marriage", because THIS was what I knew I would enforce.
[This message edited by Compartmented at 11:21 AM, February 5th (Saturday)]
I have a set of boundaries/consequences which I have shared before. If you want to see them, just ask, I'll post again. Be aware that they were written AFTER my SA was in treatment and sober. I didn't figure this out until then.
I would be grateful if you'd post them. I did my boundary agreement a few weeks back and for the most part used the format you suggested.
My problem is dealing with what appears to be his pattern of lying - not big lies - little lies that are unnecessary. Right now, when it happens I immediately point it out and he corrects himself. It's almost like his "other" life has left imprints in this one.
Is it too vague to just say "if you look at porn, then we can no longer share same home"?
Do I need to spell out how that will be accomplished?
If you cannot (for whatever reason) live separately there are many other consequences you can put in place.
I am not telling you what to do, I'm offering examples, you have to find what works for you and what you can/will enforce.
Everyone, please post examples of consequences you can implement and enforce while still living in the same home. This will be a good exercise for everyone.
If he engages in acting out behaviors you could:
*stop doing his laundry
*stop cooking meals for him
*stop sharing a bed with him
I think when your husband is disrespecting you by choosing his addiction, there is no reason for you to "take care" of him.
Do things for yourself and your children.
You can set a boundary that asks him to seek treatment and a consequence for not doing so. No longer sharing a bed is a natural consequence for this.
Hope this helps.
Example of some of mine:
**If you slip and surf porn, I will take the modem to work with me for a week and we will not share the bed for three days. (He is an ebay junkie and craves affection/cuddling)
**If you have another PA - this is a deal breaker and I will divorce you.
While I know that it will make my life very difficult financially to get a D, I also know within myself that I'd rather be poor and happy then live comfortably and sad.
- I will not give you attention/ no conversation
- I will not share my half of the spending money
I like this idea of posting your boundaries and consequences, thanks 7. I can't wait to read other members posts, I think it will really help.
*The SA's Boundary Behaviors: These are behaviors that the SA identifies as things that could lead him to breaking his sobriety or things that are generally unhealthy based on his core issues. For example some of my rSA's boundary behaviors are:
~Flipping through the program guide on cable he sees "VH1's 50 Hottest Celebrities" and flips to that channel to take a look.
~Seeing an attractive woman in the grocery store and going out of his way to get another or better look at her. (AKA scanning)
~Not changing the channel when something inappropriate comes on or not looking away.
So, if he does any of those things he's put on his list he's broken a boundary behavior and will set a consequence on himself, usually a chore he despises like cleaning the toilet. Again, this is HIS stuff. I stay out of it completely. The only exception would be if I were to see him do something and it upset me, I would talk to him about it and share how it made me FEEL. Period. This is not mine to put consequences on. This is HIS front line defense. (this is the piece that may be missing for guys only doing 12-step meetings)
**The SA's Bottom Line Behaviors are those which he would be required to reset his sobriety for. Examples are: looking at porn, masturbating, looking at online personal ads or visiting inappropriate websites like AFF, having sex with anyone other than me. (He'd have to go to group or his CSAT or a meeting and admit it and reset his sobriety date. He will lose any chips he's earned.)
Ok, here are my boundaries and consequences. These are all based on his bottom line behaviors and there are levels of severity.
My Level 1 Boundary: If he looks at porn or masturbates.
My initial consequence: We do another 90 day abstinence contract and I ask him to show me that he is recommitted to working his program by going to additional counseling and more group meetings. We go to more marriage counseling.
My secondary consequence: If he refuses to comply with any of the initial consequence, I will separate from him for 90 days. If he still does not comply, I will file for divorce.
My Level 2 Boundary: If he looks at online personal ads or places an ad but has not progressed to meeting anyone, he's just looked.
My initial consequence: We separate and HE is the one who has to move out. (I do not have to worry about the "physically able to enforce" thing here because we did this in writing and my rSA has agreed that he will comply. If he doesn't I contact his CSAT who will remind him he signed an agreement.) He must show that he is recommitted to his recovery by going to counseling more often and attending more groups. I will consider letting him come home when he's been sober for 6 months. (sober means no sexual activity including masturbation) He'll have to show me his chip and I will confirm with his CSAT.
My secondary consequence: If he doesn't get sober or if he does not comply with any of the initial consequence, I will file for divorce.
My Level 3 Boundary:
If he has any kind of sexual physical contact whatsoever with another person.
My consequence: DIVORCE. Period. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. There are no second chances on this one. He fucks around again and that is it, I'm done.
For levels 1 and 2 there is an additional note, if he tells me about it the consequences stand as written, if he does not tell me and I find out on my own there will be an additional consequence for lying. I don't have that one set in concrete right now but I'm sure I will be able to find something that is appropriate. For Level 3, I have no illusions about that one, if I find out it will be on my own, he will never confess that to me and even if he does confess, that does not change the consequence. He screws around again and I'm gone. Period.
I hope that is helpful. What you have to do is figure out what works for YOU and your relationship. These are what work for me and yours may look very different.
[This message edited by 7yrsbetrayed at 11:09 AM, February 7th (Monday)]
I added the lying cause to ours as if you cross B1 and I find out on my own, the consequences are upped to B2. If you cross B2 and I find out on my own, a 6 month separation with divorce papers drawn up, ready to sign. If at the end of 6 months, significant progress has not been made and/or any B3 boundaries have been crossed, papers will be signed.
Does that seem too much like a manipulation or threat rather than a consequence?
Ok, you can all hit me with the 2x4 now and tell me "I told ya so"....
You all told me it was only a matter of time that he acts up.
You all told me that he cannot change or stop on his own.
But, I so wanted to believe him.
Yeah, I was stupid again. I posted more detail in General forum. I don't know how to confront him with this. He's at work.
I don't know what to do.
But I do know that I can't live with this.