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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:45 am 
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Just had a difficult conversation with my SA partner and want some perspective from some of you please.......d-day was 10 weeks ago so I am still very new to this world and wanting to do things right and in a healthy way if possible...
In brief, my husband is wanting to go on a weeks ski holiday in January - I won't be able to go because of finance, our kids, job etc but I feel terrified at the prospect. He is well into a good recovery process and has gone 3+ months without 'acting out' ( I really don't like that expression!) in any wayand I don't think I am scared about him actually doing anything while he's away. He is going with a group and his SA was focussed on strip clubs and prostitutes so I don't think there is danger of anything inappropriate happening but that's not the main issue.
BUT I am scared of him being away so long at this stage in recovery - when he saw prostitues before it was sometimes when he was away for 'work' and it just brings it back. I can't imagine a week of not knowing who he is with and what he is doing- my 'comfort blanket' would be ripped away,
So we had a conversation along those lines and he feels frustrated, sad, disappointed etc that he 'can't go' so now I feel like the mean one. He says it's important for him to broaden his life and interests and do things that feed his soul and I do get that and want him to have more interesting things in his life- I do know that is part of recovering but it feels too soon and too much.
It also feels unfair, if I'm honest that he gets to make a total mess of our lives and then go off on a nice holiday as part of 'recovery'!!
So.....would value your considered responses- am I being unfair on him? I truly don't know how to deal with our conflicting needs in this situation. I don't want to hinder his recovery and maybe it would be good for us to spend time apart but that scares me so much- irrational in lots of ways, but real.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:20 am 
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Polesden, I understand your struggle with this issue of your husband's trip. For me, at this early point in my life at post discovery, anything my husband did was a threat. Here's what helped me that may be helpful to you.

Focus on how you feel and what is important to you. You are not responsible for your husband's addiction or his destructive choices. I want to say that again: you are not responsible for your husband's addiction or his destructive choices. I really needed to get this understanding, and frankly, it took me a while. You are also not responsible for his recovery. He is. As you do the lessons, you will learn about ways you can be a supportive partner to your husband's recovery. But being supportive is different from being responsible. Nothing you do or say caused his addiction nor can prevent his recovery if he is truly committed to recover.

I have been learning to calmly (well, usually calmly) state my feelings and my preferences. It is okay to tell your husband about your anxieties and fears about this trip. Ideally, he would respond with empathy and have a constructive discussion with you. My assumption is that he does not have the skills to do that at this time. So being aware that he may not respond well to your anxieties and fears is helpful to know.

So, in this situation, he will make his own choices over which you have no control. What is important is for you to take care of yourself as well as possible. If he does go on this trip, what can you do to take care of yourself. Would it be helpful to ask for him to contact you during the trip? Would it make things worse? Are you ready to set a boundary that he has to contact you? (Later on in the lessons you will learn about boundary setting and have the opportunity to think about boundaries in your relationship). What can you do for yourself, today, to feel better and safer.

For me, and I was surprised by this, early on after discovery I feared my husband's absence, but at the same time it was a relief. I felt both fear and relief at the same time. I was advised to detach from my husband's addiction and recovery, which was excellent advice, and it was very, very hard for me to do. But, the better I get at detaching, the better I feel. And, the more I focus on myself. I was also advised that early after discovery my husband would be acting out. That's an unpleasant awareness, but it also means I didn't need to be anxious about his acting out since I knew he was. What I am getting at, and this was very, very difficult for me to do, is that I had to learn to put me first and to think about what I could do for me no matter what my husband was doing. I had to focus on what I could do to feel safe, to feel some control over my life, to feel good about me. I've been a slow learner and didn't always succeed, but I've kept at it.

I know my response does not provide much clarity, but I hope it can be helpful.

dnll


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:39 am 
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Hi Polesden,

Like dnell, I strongly relate to and empathize with your fears and anxieties around your husband's trip. A few years ago my husband traveled to a foreign country where illicit sex is easily obtained, and I was wrecked the entire weekend (in addition to, as dnell noted, relieved at his absence!)

You and your husband both are still in the relatively early stages of all this. I noticed in your healing thread you are just about at the stage where you begin to spell out boundaries for yourself based on your values. boundary work is challenging: it takes a while, and often evolves as we grow, learn, and get stronger.

I say this because your choices surrounding your husband's trip are best dictated by where you are at in your own healing. When we are fledgling in creating boundaries, for some of us, it's such new and scary territory that we begin with baby steps, and our boundaries get more clear over time. For some partners who are far along enough in their healing, they may be in a position w here they are comfortable telling their husband: "This trip is not ok with me for the following reasons (list reasons, such as him being in very early recovery and the instability of the relationship at this point in time, for example). I cannot control you going, and I cannot tell you not to go, but if you do choose to go, I will XYZ (list consequence(s)"

Not everyone is at a point where they can state a boundary and consequence that way. You may not be, and THAT IS OK.

Think for now about whether your husband's going violates any of your values. Give this a good reflection. If you can pinpoint a value that feels threatened or undermined here, it may help guide you as you choose how to respond to your husband.

Quote:
am I being unfair on him?


No, polesden, you aren't. I've gone through these kinds of questions myself. The reality is, your husband's choices brought your marriage to its knees. His poor life management skills undermined the development of a solid, healthy foundation for a marriage. Your feelings, and your needs here, are not about tit for tat (and a person either in addictive behavior or newly recovering is skilled at manipulating and guilt tripping you into thinking you are punishing him or being unfair. You are not.). Your marriage is in a fragile state, brought there by your husband's addiction, and he's asking to go off and have fun with the boys.

:no:

Dnell is correct in that at this stage, it's unlikely he will have any empathy or consideration for your feelings and fears around this. Expect this. But, do not allow his reactions to make you question yourself. Trust YOURSELF, polesden. Your feelings, fears, and anxiety are all valid in this scenario.

As dnell advised, consider how you might enact self-care and protect yourself. If he chooses to go, can you plan for how you will handle your feelings while he is gone, and how you will treat yourself as kindly as possible? If him choosing to go creates a dent in your marriage, and makes you doubt his commitment to recovery and commitment to evolving from selfishness, you could communicate this to him, if you value open communication and honesty. Short, to-the-point phrases. "If you choose to go, I cannot stop you, but you are making a choice that causes further fracture to our marriage and to my healing." Communicate it as a reflection of your values, instead of being about trying to change or control the outcome of his choice. In doing so, you will feel true to yourself and develop more self-respect for standing up for your values and needs.

with much empathy,
meep


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:15 pm 
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Thank you- it so helps to know I am not crazy and not alone. Your comments are helpful- "I have been learning to calmly (well, usually calmly) state my feelings and my preferences." dnell- that is great wisdom and I know I didn't do that well because I panicked. I need to work on that because I have not been good at stating my needs ever - either calmly or otherwise!!

And I love what meep says - "Communicate it as a reflection of your values, instead of being about trying to change or control the outcome of his choice. In doing so, you will feel true to yourself and develop more self-respect for standing up for your values and needs." I need to feel true to myself and know that my needs are also valid.... Thank you.

I still don't know if he will go......but we have a better basis for a calm and values- driven conversation now. Thank you. So much to learn........


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:15 pm 
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Thank you- it so helps to know I am not crazy and not alone. Your comments are helpful- "I have been learning to calmly (well, usually calmly) state my feelings and my preferences." dnell- that is great wisdom and I know I didn't do that well because I panicked. I need to work on that because I have not been good at stating my needs ever - either calmly or otherwise!!

And I love what meep says - "Communicate it as a reflection of your values, instead of being about trying to change or control the outcome of his choice. In doing so, you will feel true to yourself and develop more self-respect for standing up for your values and needs." I need to feel true to myself and know that my needs are also valid.... Thank you.

I still don't know if he will go......but we have a better basis for a calm and values- driven conversation now. Thank you. So much to learn........


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:18 pm 
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Polesden wrote:
that is great wisdom and I know I didn't do that well because I panicked. I need to work on that because I have not been good at stating my needs ever - either calmly or otherwise!!


This is an area of growth for many of us here. I want to validate you and note that even if you came into your relationship with some areas of weakness in communication and stating your needs, the immaturity and volatility of living with a person with addiction further erodes our strength in stating needs. Often we are not heard, not validated by them, and in many cases experience gaslighting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting) from our partners. In a healthy relationship, both partners can work together, collaboratively, to improve their communication skills and maturing together as a couple. This just doesn't happen in the same way in a relationship with a person with addiction.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:25 pm 
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holy moly, polesden!!
you have such a beautiful heart and even in this circumstance are so gentle and 'understanding'. is it this gentle, understanding, trusting, sacrificial outlook that has put us in this place of being abused??? (--and there really is no other way to describe what our husbands have done as they have habitually deceived us and betrayed vows that to us were sacred.)
Polesden wrote:
In brief, my husband is wanting to go on a weeks ski holiday in January - I won't be able to go because of finance, our kids, job etc but I feel terrified at the prospect.

At THIS moment, in ALL that has happened, whether he has lived this out OR NOT--- it seems ANY SINCERITY in remorse and desire to redeem your relationship would be shown in his overwhelming willingness to listen to your heart and take steps to bring healing to your family. Is this FOREMOST in his mind, heart, or soul??? I balk at the idea that 'this is a slow process'-- as Jon said 'it's a 180 degree turn'. We look at how we've been living and STOP making self-indulgent excuses. Why in the world are your finances and the kids YOUR responsibility alone??? If there is not enough money for the TWO of you to share time away, then why in the world would he EVEN CONSIDER that he deserves his vacation with the boys??? As the wife of a successful, adored, 'Christian' husband of 40 years who also fully blindsided me with 10 years of strip clubs and prostitutes, we both know the financial rampage HE BROUGHT on our our families. His 'fun money' has been spent and he owes a huge debt to his family. My goodness, if anyone deserves 'some fun money' and time away, it is YOU!! (--at minimum, such expenses and time away would seem to be budgeted to build family/ marriage reconnection.)
I deeply struggle with the idea we are to EXPECT them to 'act out' or 'to not have empathy' and find peace in accepting that. As a parent do we accept that our kids are stealing, hitting others, etc.?? Of course not-- if we love them we calmly and lovingly intercede to share that we WANT so much more for them, we explain the hurt & destruction these actions create, and we build together new ways of living a healthy life. Our husbands are not our children, but if we are to purport that they are 'missing some life skills', then why accept this disastrous/selfish outlook for another moment??? After we have been knocked to our knees by this behavior and it's reality, I can not in good conscience allow it to go on in ANY form in my life, home, or around my children. I will NOT be co-dependent (I despise even writing that word) by what happens AFTER D-day. He is an adult. Disaster has hit. Time to reverse course, fight for your life--- or sink.

The change for my husband came when he---
. immediately took 180 degree turn from this crap (first month)
. immersed himself in SAA and Recovery Nation(first 3 months SAA and now RN)
. began working fervently to restore stolen funds to our family trust (from first month)
. determined to show his love for me so completely that it would become his heartbeat and my heart would begin healing (in progress ---until I remember some unexpected trauma trigger and fall down a rabbit hole)
. as a Christian reexamined his soul and cried out for forgiveness in living out his faith and began 'laying himself down for his bride as Christ did for the church." (ongoing & growing since first month)
. committed to not tolerating lies in his life anymore and if in monitoring his words realized any dishonesty coming out as an omission, 1/2 truth, etc. would immediately come to me and share truth to begin a new way of life and trust. (daily monitoring)

Our life is still fragile, largely because of my trauma, sorrow, and fears to trust. He still is learning and growing, but until he truly 'owned' the destruction he had brought to our family and set his heart, soul, and mind to a 'complete 180' with no more tolerance in his life for self-indulgent excuses we were stuck in an unbearable grief spin cycle. Maybe that was my tough' boundary', but there either was to emerge a man who is fighting for our marriage and authenticity as a a husband and Christian or I would protect my heart and our family by asking him to leave.
meeppeep, you rock and were probably much more gentle with your words of encouragement!!
This is dead serious for me!!! My life, sanity, and family depended on him to thoroughly demonstrate his sincerity by taking it just as seriously if he was to stay. We've had the hardest, deepest, scariest conversations of our lives. We might never be the same as I once thought we blissfully were, but we will fight thru this until we are in new and better places (together or apart).
Sisterhood of brokenhearts-- we can't be 'co-dependent'-- letting this go on and on as WE make excuses for them. You are worth far more!! Lovingly fight for your family with firm boundaries of healthy respect and expectations of your partner's sincere battle for his life and family.
One year in and that's where the lines were drawn from the first moment I could get my head out of my tear-soaked pillow!!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:34 am 
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Haha mimi4- you made me smile! Yes I think - well the evidence shows- that I have been too trusting and gentle and self- giving and had allowed my husband to withdraw from me and our family and I over - compensated for him. I didn't realise at the time!

I am encouraged by your strong stance- I too am firmly of the belief that there is no going back to the bad old days of acting out, secrecy and deceit and betrayal. Fortunately my husband is in agreement and is doing well in terms of behaviour ie he's not doing anything in terms of 'acting out' and is working hard on recovery in the broader sense. So I feel mostly hopeful....

He agrees that he has misjudged this one and although he's disappointed he can see now that it would hurt me for him to go. And he has apologised. But the process of getting to that has been bruising and brought up all my anger and hurt and pain again..... My heart is racing again and my head pounding. Ugh. I guess we will get better at communication and understanding each other's hearts as we practise.......

Thanks for the encouragements and validation - this stuff can make me feel like a crazy woman!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:56 am 
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Quote:
Sisterhood of brokenhearts-- we can't be 'co-dependent'-- letting this go on and on as WE make excuses for them. You are worth far more!! Lovingly fight for your family with firm boundaries of healthy respect and expectations of your partner's sincere battle for his life and family.


I agree with everything you say here, mimi4, except for a clarification about one thing (that I may be misunderstanding): that we make excuses for our addicts behavior. I don't make excuses, Jon didn't make excuses, I don't see any of the mentors or coaches make excuses. RN has been very, very clear that we are not responsible for our partner's addiction(s) or recovery. I applaud your firm boundaries.

But, and I say this gently, it would be great if addicts could just stop the behavior right now, straighten up and fly right. We would. Healthy people could. Mature people could. But, and, again, I say this gently, these are unhealthy, immature people who are deficient in the skills needed to manage their lives. It is not making excuses to note the reality of their pathologies and deficiencies. There is nothing wrong with our making a boundary that has zero tolerance for any acting out. But, I think we need to be prepared for what is most likely to happen with our partners as they get into recovery. That's not making excuses. That's getting a very realistic understanding of what we are confronting and what to expect. It's not making excuses to note that our partners will continue to lie post discovery. It is a reality. How we respond to this harsh reality is entirely up to us.

In solidarity,
dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:29 pm 
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dnell, your gentle, calm perspective is refreshing to my heart. i have read other posts you have written and so respect your insights and wisdom.

when i speak of us as partners not making excuses for our SA's behavior maybe i am short-sighted, but i see my spouse as a very successful, respected, educated professional who has demonstrated a loving heart toward his family in many ways over the years, so i can't buy the "he is lacking life management skills, so he will do this crap" or that i should "expect him to continue lying".

i can not put my heart or my family in a position for this to continue. i believe the above mentioned ARE excuses that allow this kind of behavior to go on and on. i do not want to be on this forum reporting my spouses ongoing unfaithfulness and lies 4, 5, 6 years from now. either he is sincere in his repentance or not. we ALL face stresses in our lives, we ALL want to feel love, we ALL want to know the thrill of sexual passion, we ALL are capable of living selfishly-- they ARE adults who clearly KNOW right and wrong, yet CHOSE to make & carefully carry out these decisions. why should they get some 'free pass' by OUR own excuses for their ongoing 'slips' or lies?? do people get off in court by saying "sorry, i just have poor life management skills, so i steal, lie and betray others"? do we just excuse our own children's continued lying because they have a habit of being untruthful?? i believe if we expect this behavior to continue, than it most probably will.

(sorry, my perspective is probably influenced from years as an elementary school teacher and i can't possibly imagine these statements being seen as anything but an excuse for prolonging healing in EITHER partner.)

just one hearts longing for a redeeming, determined, swift battle & victory (suit up or skulk off) :o)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:45 pm 
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poleden,
Quote:
He agrees that he has misjudged this one and although he's disappointed he can see now that it would hurt me for him to go. And he has apologized. But the process of getting to that has been bruising and brought up all my anger and hurt and pain again..... My heart is racing again and my head pounding. Ugh. I guess we will get better at communication and understanding each others hearts as we practice.......

this is HARD work and it IS exhausting-- but genuine hearts were shared, you challenged his soul, he chose to open his heart and make unselfish choices--- BIG steps!!! unfortunately, it frequently seems that there is much reasoning and process to go thru to truly connect and determinedly love sacrificially. and sadly, sometimes healing hurts are re-traumatized. i stilll have not figured out how to stop that awful spin cycle.
i give thanks with you for husbands that are grieved by their actions, desire to change, and have immediately stopped 'acting out'.
may the work continue in all earnest.
linked hearts in prayer with you!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:24 am 
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Amen to that prayer, mimi4!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:27 am 
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The last thing I want to do is argue with any of us. We, unfortunately, share an experience that no one should have to go through.

I agree that my addicted husband's compulsive thoughts and behaviors, and his behaviors associated with covering up and fueling his addiction were:
selfish, immoral, cruel, entitled, irrational, destructive, pathetic, shameful, mortifying, and, on occasion, depraved. I do hold him accountable for his choices and his behavior. They have hurt me, and others, in indescribable ways. The pain is raw, penetrating, all encompassing, searing. I hold him accountable for each and every one of his choices.

In addition to excruciating pain, I feel enormous rage, enormous shame, enormous disappointment, enormous disrespect, enormous disgust.

This addiction seems so destructive, and frankly, stupid, I as well think: just stop!

I read a book by Lofgren, "The Storm of Addiction", which was very helpful to me. Like Jon, she points out that the seeds of this addiction almost always are planted as a result of childhood trauma. That trauma does not let our partners off the hook for their addiction, nor does it excuse it. But, and here is the big but, it does give a rational reason for why it developed. And, it does give us, or others, a chance to feel some compassion for the wounded child in our addicts. Not for the addicted adult. But for the wounded child.

I believe we, as humans, are flawed. I believe we, as adults, have free will. I believe we make mistakes. I believe in redemption. I believe the road to redemption is hard and long. I believe victims at the hands of others may never fully recover from their unfair wounds. How do we, as victims, balance our rightful longing for justice? How do we believe that victimizers can ever be forgiven? How can we believe that victimizers can ever be redeemed?

The older I get the more I value compassion. It's something that the world needs more of. It is very, very hard to extend compassion to the compassionless. I have worked very, very hard on forgiving myself for my husband's sins. Sad to think I needed to do that, but I did. What was my sin? Not taking care of myself, not trusting myself, letting myself be abused. Frankly, partners of sex addicts are often blamed and abused by society for our partner's addiction. It's sad and unfair, but true. I see this as a lack of understanding and a lack of compassion. I see this as fear and disgust.

If we are done with our marriages, and there is every reason for us to be done, we have every right to walk out. If we decide we have zero tolerance for any mistakes in our husband's recovery, that is our right. But, Mimi, please do not judge me as giving "excuses" to my husband when I exercise what I believe is a realistic view of recovery from addiction. I don't see it as excusing him. I hold him accountable. I have learned to make boundaries. But, I know how hard it was to forgive myself and how much time it has taken. I just couldn't wake up and say, "that's it. I won't do that again." I think the reality of recovery and healing is that it is long and hard.

Who do I see when I look at my husband? Sometimes I see the addict and only the addict. I know I don't want to spend one more minute of my life with that addict. Sometimes I see a very empty, wounded broken man. I have mixed feelings about that. Sometimes I see the wounded child. I feel compassion for that child. Now, at this point in his recovery, I see a struggling, immature man who is not just an addict. I, and this is just me, feel compassion for any person who is struggling to better themselves, to find redemption, to make amends. I know that at some point, if my husband does not recover or if he relapses or slips, I will be done with him. I don't know if the healthy man he could become is someone I want to be with, or if he can become that man soon enough for me. I don't know. I know that I do not want to be judged harshly for my decision to "wait and see."

With deep compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:38 am 
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dnell wrote:
If we are done with our marriages, and there is every reason for us to be done, we have every right to walk out. If we decide we have zero tolerance for any mistakes in our husband's recovery, that is our right. But, Mimi, please do not judge me as giving "excuses" to my husband when I exercise what I believe is a realistic view of recovery from addiction. I don't see it as excusing him. I hold him accountable. I have learned to make boundaries. But, I know how hard it was to forgive myself and how much time it has taken. I just couldn't wake up and say, "that's it. I won't do that again." I think the reality of recovery and healing is that it is long and hard.


To add to dnell's thoughtful and considered reply, I want to reiterate that:
A) Indeed, if we are done with our marriages and have nothing left in us in terms of toleration of slips, relapses, etc so be it. Every partner here needs to judge for his/herself where their bottom line is, and this a unique line for each of us. Some partners are ready to be done far sooner than others, and they are ready to live with that decision, and that is completely OK.

b) In looking at my own struggles with change, it has helped me find empathy and compassion for my husband's struggles with change. Like dnell, I have certain patterns where I could not simply wake up and say "I will not do that again." A big one for me has been boundary setting and standing up for myself. I simply cannot decide, tomorrow, to shut off all my emotions, background, past issues, and stand firmly (and with detachment) head to head with my husband over a boundary violation. It terrifies me, and I've been at this for two years. Am I getting there? YES. Did I get there immediately? NO. So if it's a challenge for me to get the courage to be very firm and explicit with my boundaries, I can understand how it's a challenge for my husband to rewire his patterns overnight. In seeing myself, I was able to get a lot softer and kinder about my husband, while still defining for myself what are my bottom lines.

Here at RN, we don't advocate absolutes. We see each partner, and each person in recovery, has a unique path, guided by a personal vision and solidified by a value system. And while we as partners can help bolster each other's resolve, courage, and strength, we also respect our differences in what is tolerable, and what is right for a given partner at any given time.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:28 pm 
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meepmeep and dnell,
thank you so much for sharing so compassionately from your heart and experience. i respect your insights and am grateful for the wisdom & perspective that are a treasure to us not as far along on the journey.
are 'no excuses' actually boundaries????
many of my boundaries/ 'no excuses' with my husband have been derived together (so as to set a common course, understand hearts, and show our sincerity)...
--thus the understanding that if there is sex outside of our marriage again we are done. (an agreed upon absolute)
--if out of habit a lie/half-truth or omission crosses his lips, it is his responsibility, his step toward health, his opportunity to rebuild trust--- to immediately share honesty with me.
the devastation is too great, our family is too precious, life is too short, to be anything but fervent in this process of recovery and healing. we are broken, but agreed in our process.
maybe those are just values spoken and boundaries we both want as an endeavor to pour our hearts into healing.
each relationship is unique. for us, at this moment, it is our battle plan.
so grateful to know love, encouragement, and shared hearts in this difficult chapter of the journey.
so grateful for the both of you!!

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