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Boundaries and Consequences 101 for all new BS
One of the many things I wish I had known or handled differently in the wake of D-dayÖ i hope it helps those struggling to help themselves.
Boundaries define limits, mark off dividing lines and declare your values. The purposes of boundaries can be boundless. However, from my experience as a BS and a reader of SI, I have found that a boundary is to make clear healthy personal interactions and expectations. To differentiate between how we as codependent spouses differentiate the healthy relationship behaviors from the abusive territory. 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 realize that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. We are not codependent to the issues of the WS. We have not only the right, but the obligation to care for ourselves in the wake of this trauma, to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us, specifically the WS.
We BSís need to start by becoming aware of what healthy behaviorís and acceptable interaction dynamics look like and demand them from our WSís. This starts by learning how to be emotionally honest with ourselves, how to start owing our feelings, and then to communicate them in a direct and honest manner with the WS. Setting personal boundaries is vital part of any healthy relationship and is not possible without direct communication.
In order to accomplish this we need to learn to do is drop the codependency, many BSís tend to be codependent in times of crisis. We BSís attempt to hold on to notions of what we have always believed our spouses and marriages to be. As I have read from many veterans here, that marriage is dead. If itís a corpse we need to not be codependent to its value. I need to learn to focus on seeing myself as separate from my marriage and WS in order to try to protect myself and look at what was healthy for me. The purpose of setting boundaries is to take care of ourselves. Itís about learning about ourselves, of learning to respect ourselves, of learning to love ourselves. If we never have to set a boundary, then we will never get in touch with who we really are, we will never escape the enmeshment of codependence and learn to define what is healthy for ourselves.
No one deserves to be treated abusively. No one deserves to be lied to and betrayed.
We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. If we do not respect ourselves, if we do not start awakening to our right to be treated with respect and dignity (and our responsibility in creating that in our lives) then we will continue to be more comfortable being involved with WSís who abuse us than expecting our WS to treat us in loving ways. On some level, the emotions of D-day drive our codependence; we are more comfortable with being abused than being treated in a loving way. This usually is due to us are holding on to faulty views of ourselves, our marriages, our WSís. Learning to set boundaries is vital to protecting ourselves, and to communicating to our WSís that we have worth.
The blameshifting, gaslighting games all center and prey on this codependence. In fact the WSís often think of boundary setting as threats when they are in the fog. 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 WSís behavior. Setting a boundary is not an attempt to control the WSís behavior, in contrast it is a part of the process of defining ourselves and what is acceptable to us. It is a major step in taking control of how we allow others to treat us. It is a vital step in taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives.
We as BSís need to find the strength to let go of the outcome when we set a boundary with our WSís. Itís the WSís decision to engage us in a healthy way. They decide with their behavior if they can treat us in a healthy way. Too often we want the other person to change their behavior, we hope they will, but we never directly tell them because we are afraid of the ultimate outcome. But we need to own our barriers in order to empower ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and stop setting ourselves up to be the victim. We need to really consider the choices we have, one may be to remove ourselves from relationship with the person. We CAN leave a marriage. It is vitally important to honor all of our choices and explore all options. If we do not honor that we have a choice to leave an abusive relationship - then we are not making a CHOICE to stay in the relationship we empowering victimization and codependency
Often I see other BSís struggling with drawing boundaries in similar places, itís a struggle things like:
ē No Contact! Absolutely none.
ē No more "just friends" of the opposite sex.
ē All secret email accounts deleted with NC emails sent out.
ē No more cleared browser histories on computer.
ē Complete transparency in all things.
ē Any friends that are not friends of the M and our R need to go immediately.
These boundaries make sense but we often fail even if we identify them. This is because we donít think about the other side of the boundary issue, CONSEQUENCES. Personal boundaries NEED consequences, otherwise they are not true boundaries. Consequences are the outcomes of a personís behaviors. By their nature, they gauge the relative value of the behavior, because we as humans strive for positive outcomes or consequences. When dealing with boundaries with your WS, we as BSís have the power to determine the consequences; we get to decide what is acceptable and what we will allow as a result of the behavioral choices made by our WSís. These choices are never easy, but once made they need to be fairly static, and need to be communicated effectively so both parties are clear as to the boundary and consequence. You need to be clear about your expectations , for me we wrote a marital contract and put it on paper, I wrote them down and discussed each with my WS.
Not all consequences need to be dire, all WSís will make mistakes in Reconciliation, if everything is a deal breaker then your doomed to failure. Your WS didnít get in this predicament in a day, there are years of learned behaviors and coping mechanisms that need to be discovered and unwound. While discussing the marital contract you can discuss your values, why you have particular deal breakers and what messages are sent when violations occur. This helps you communicate to your WS your values, and the fact that your values are important to bonding you back to this Marriage.
Lastly and certainly the hardest for me was to Detach! Every time I logged on I would read from Wincing, Crossbow and the like making this statement. Make sure once you have identified boundaries, communicated them and the consequences than you have to divorce yourself from the behaviors and decisionsí of your spouse. They control their behavior and you control yours. You enforce your boundaries, they decide with their actions if they want the relationship. For some of us, me included this can be the hardest part. I hope this helps someone avoid learning this quicker than I did, I think it would have saved me months of Trickle Truth, or Trickle Torture. Being 6 months into this journey I think had I learned this piece earlier I would have dealt with the aftermath of D-Day differently.
Great post! Another great resource is the book Not Just Friends, by Shirley Glass. It has excellent things to say about boundaries.
Thanks for this great write-up!
Wow, Lord, this is really good. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out. It's very helpful - I am saving it to read again.
What/who? are Wincing and Crossbow?
Did you have help writing your marital contract? What sorts of things are in it?
I love Not Just Friends, by Shirley Glass. I read it in the days just following D-Day and it has helped in so many ways.
What/who? are Wincing and Crossbow?
Wincing at light and crossbow are veteran SI posters who seemed to really hit the nail on the head for me with regard to just about every aspect of this topic. They post often, use your search box to find them and their great wisdom.
Did you have help writing your marital contract? What sorts of things are in it?
It was an idea sent our way by my WW"s IC. He stated from day one that if we were going to commit to another life together there were no longer assumed shared values and views of what is expected in the marriage. He in a sense communicated the same thing, "The marriage is dead, How do you want to proceed with the funeral". We started with deal breakers and personal boundaries that arose as major players in the affair., then began adding some things from there. We agreed to revisit the contract quarterly initially to see if there are things we want to add or change. Everything in the contract is negotiable except those things we decide are deal breakers. This reminds me we are coming up on a revisit.
It really helped us jump start personal boundaries and developing shared expectations for the marriage. I hope this helps.
The only thing I disagree with is the deleting of all secret email accounts. Here's why.....
I found out about OW #4 ONLY because I had taken over his secret email account as my own at that time. I actually reopened his closed email account a few months after he shut it down on DDay (Yahoo has a 90 day wait policy to reopen an email account). I reopened it, logged in, and made the IM available so I appeared online and as H to all whose lists he was on.
Within just a couple of days I had the OW IMing me. I tricked her into thinking I was him, and she told me everything I needed to know about their hookups. I would have never had this info if I didn't have access to that email account.
So I say keep all secret emails open, get the passwords, and change them immediately to something only YOU will know. Also change the confirmation email address or back up email address to YOUR email address and not WS's. This way he can't pull a "forgot password" and reset it himself later.
Seems like a good time to bump this up, with polygraphs, TT and games I am reading on the JFO I think this might be of help. remember YOU get to decide where your boundries are. Please establish them with consequnces, it helps move the process along. It will keep you from getting drug through the mud as long as I was. Good luck all, it breaks my heart to relive all this pain with you guys. I hate felling the D-day impact.
Bump for thundersdad, hope it helps...
"Any friends that are not friends of the M and our R need to go immediately."
What do you mean by not friends of the M?
I have, and so does he, friends from school etc who are much more friends of one of us than the other. What damage does that do?
I stand and applaud you!!!!!
I mean seriously....I wish I had had this post 5 years ago!!!
I am going to print it now and put it on my bulletin board!!!
A friend of the marriage is supportive of the marriage and their friend. They would not spend time denigrating or disparaging the marriage, or either partner. They respond with something positive about your own relationship or the marriage to support the marriage above either partner.
Make sure your social network is supportive of your marriage. Surround yourself with friends who are happily married and who don't believe in fooling around or dividing and separating the spouses.
In the wake of an affair you should evaluate if any or all of the friendships either partner have are toxic to the marriage and should be removed if not directly supportive of the marriage staying together "in a healthy way of course". I hope this helps.
Mckenzieswish! I appreciate it. I wish I learned this quicker as well.
[This message edited by lordhasaplan? at 6:59 PM, January 19th (Wednesday)]
Thanks Lordshasaplan - I get it. I completely agree.
Thanks for this. I am a big proponent of women valuing themselves, instead of cowering to their aggressive self-serving WS. I try to tell them what you have expressed so eloquently. Great post.
Bump for Iris0127 and other newbees.
bump for newbies
Bump for Feb8. May you have all the strength you need.
I like the idea of dumping friends who are not supportive of the marriage. I had concerns prior to DDay about my husbands friend, who he rents a condo from while working out of state. This guy has never been married and the women he has been involved with in the past are hoochie mamas or nut cases. This "friend" just had a baby with a 19 year old girl. He is 48! My husband and I are both disgusted with that and I am so glad that my FWH is coming home next week. My husband met the OW in the social circle that he and his friend are both in out of state. The ONS took place in the condo that is right next door to the friend. I have often wondered if the friend knew about the affair and if he gave his approval or acted like it was not big deal. Our family members and "normal friends" would be appalled if they knew what he did.
can you give me any examples of what Consequences might be? It has only been a week since d day and at this point, everything on my list would be a deal breaker at this point.