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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:52 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:01 pm
Posts: 9
Setting boundaries has always been difficult for me. I have gotten better at voicing and setting boundaries with my husband as I have set and voiced to my husband that if he is to act out with another woman that this is a deal breaker for me and I would leave. What I am having trouble with is boundaries in regards to scanning and disconnecting. We were on vacation a few weeks ago and this trip was extremely triggering for both him and I as there were many attractive women. We were at dinner our first night and as we sat down the first thing he said was "that woman over there is giving me the vibe that she's into me". I did not even know how to respond to that! I was completely caught off guard and I automatically said who. Next thing you know our whole conversation was revolved around this woman and it made me feel uncomfortable and was very triggering. I told my husband that I felt very uncomfortable with talking about this woman, that I wanted to connect with him, that tonight was about us and enjoying each other's company. He quickly agreed and stated you're right and said all the things I wanted to hear. I thought to myself okay we are on the right track we hit a bump in the road and he repaired. Minutes later he was glancing over at her and in the middle of our conversation tuned me out to listen to her conversation. I was livid! My compassion and patience went out the window because I stated what I needed from him and he continued to cross my boundaries. When I confronted him he simply stated "I'm just a nosy person, I can't help it, my family is like this too" I felt really stuck, angry, unsafe and was unsure on what to do next. My question is how do you deal with your partner when you state your boundary and they continue to cross it? Clearly my husband's words of repair are in contradiction with his actions which raise my red flags. Not to mention being defensive when I confront him. Something doesn't feel right. I'm working on the lessons and focusing on myself but this is so hard to go through.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:47 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 666
quietstrength - I'm learning to set boundaries and am still surprised at how I never did it and how hard it is. Wish I had learned this long ago. In any event, boundary violations must have consequences. Addicts aren't good with consequences since they don't take responsibility for their behavior and blame others. But, they must face the consequences of violating our boundaries.

This issue of ogling/scanning/leering is very tough and the particular issue about eating a meal out is a problem in my relationship. Here's what I have done. I won't go out to a restaurant unless I really feel that my husband is in a pretty sober state. I have calmly explained what my problem is with this behavior (How I feel it belittles me, ignores me, devalues me, is disrespectful, exploitive and mortifying). When I first said this I got lots of push back about how he doesn't do what I say, I'm wrong to feel that way....well, you know. Just ignore that and calmly and firmly say what you think and feel. I then said if we go out for a meal and I sense he is doing anything like what you describe, I will ask him to stop, or say I am done and leave either with him or without him. Be prepared to take a cab or to walk home. I have also said I will not argue with him. He could be innocent or guilty and it doesn't matter. If I feel something is wrong, I will take action. I won't make a scene and I will be calm, but I will not subject myself to this kind of behavior. My husband doesn't like this, but, tough. I have learned I have to enact the consequences. I tell him ahead of time what they will be, but I don't feel obligated to fill him in on any changes I make. The truth is, it will take quite a while for me to trust my husband enough to go out with him in public at all. I had to learn to tolerate him in private first; then I had to learn to tolerate him in the car (harder); then I had to learn to tolerate just brief forays out in public to isolated spots. I will never go to a grocery store with him since he did so much acting out there. Weird, I know, but that is just the way it is. There are some places he acted out, that I know about, that I won't go to with him. Period.

What I have learned is to trust myself and honor my feelings. It doesn't matter whether or not they are doing what we fear, but, honestly, our gut is probably right and we're just getting addict BS from them. What matters is taking care of ourselves and not letting them abuse us. It gets easier with practice. I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I am working hard on it.


Also, how about a boundary that he cannot speak to you, EVER, about how some woman "has a vibe for him." I'm getting ticked off on your behalf. This is just not acceptable conversation when you are out together for a meal. Everything about this is just not appropriate. I've made this boundary and if my husband violates it, I just leave, WITHOUT explanation. It's that serious of a problem for me. Not a scene, but a rapid departure. Let him figure out how to pay the bill and regain some dignity. I have found that I had to enact these consequences in order for my husband to take me seriously.

And, by the by, what is the likelihood that these women really are "giving him a vibe"? I know that my husband distorted reality so much, objectified so much, and assumed everyone was as sexually obsessed as he was (except me, of course), that a waitress who smiled and asked for his order was interpreted as saying "You're hot; lets have sex; I'm in love with you." This is delusion, of course.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:11 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:22 pm
Posts: 124
quietstrength wrote:
I stated what I needed from him and he continued to cross my boundaries.

quietstrength wrote:
I felt really stuck, angry, unsafe and was unsure on what to do next.

What I've learned about setting boundaries is not to put them in place to punish someone else, but to protect myself. So it's really important not just to have boundaries, but to know what I'll do when they're crossed.

This is all about shifting the power back to you, and doing what you need to do to live by your own values. It also means having no expectation for the other person to respect or not respect your boundary.

Since you know that this is an issue that keeps coming up, why not prepare for it? First, know the value you are protecting. This is important, because you want to be clear for yourself why the boundary is there. Is it respect for you? Respect for all women? Partnership? Connection? Freedom from objectification? What the value is will be unique to you. Clearly there's a value there that's being eroded. Do some reflecting on what that is. If you've done that lesson, look there. If it's not clearly articulated in your values statement, then add it.

Now, what is the boundary? It sounds like this is already in place for you, and you were able to state it to your partner.

For you, it was the final step that was missing. When the boundary is not respected, what do you do? Again, this is not an expectation for your partner, because you have no control over him and his response. I think you have lots of options here, if you get creative. You could ask the server to seat you both at a different table. You could cease all conversation until he accepts responsibility. You could ask for a table by yourself and finish your meal. You could get up and walk out. You could ask for a to-go box and call a friend from a beautiful view on a park bench. You could take out your journal and write it down right there, reflecting on it as a sign of where your partner is at in his recovery. Ideally, the boundary should be in line with your values. Because you could also stomp away in anger and humiliation, but that probably wouldn't be in line with your higher self.

The key is to know that this is about you, not about him. I'll give you an example. My partner's addiction is voyeurism with a camera. When he was visiting with my kids last week, he asked if I would be okay if he took some pictures. I said that it made me very uncomfortable for him to be around the kids with his camera, so no, but I would be happy to take pictures with my phone and send them to him. He put his camera away, and then I took pictures for him. As soon as I put my phone away, he took out his camera and started taking pictures of the kids. I was completely shocked. I immediately repeated that I didn't want him taking pictures of the kids, and he said that it was my problem, not his. In fact, he was right. I simply said, "Ok, kids, get in the car." And left. Was I pissed? Yes. Was I upset? Yes. I'm still working on boundaries, too. It takes courage, because the SA sure knows how to try to make you feel like you're the unreasonable, crazy one. But the point is, I could either beg him to respect my boundaries and let him tromp all over them when he refused to respect them, or I could protect myself and my kids by walking away.

You have this power, too. You just need to be ready for it with a plan and have the courage to exercise it when you need to. Visualizing the scene again and picturing yourself enacting the consequence could be helpful to prepare you.

By the way, just because you didn't enact a consequence at that time doesn't mean you can't put one in place now. It's not too late. You could choose not to go out to dinner with your partner as a consequence. That's up to you. Do what you need to do to live by your values.

quietstrength wrote:
Clearly my husband's words of repair are in contradiction with his actions which raise my red flags.

Good for you for looking to his actions instead of his words and listen to those red flags. They are there to protect you. They are your truth, and proof enough.

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