1. Pornography must be a safe topic for me to bring up whenever I want to. If my husband chooses to not be available to discuss my feelings about mine and his recovery, I will stay married, I will be nice, but I will withdraw emotionally and no longer be vulnerable with him. (This was my first boundary.)
2. I have the right to react well or badly to any relapse. If I am not informed of the relapse, I am deprived of that right. My husband will voluntarily disclose any relapse to me within about a day. If he fails to inform me, I will know that he is not a safe person and I will withdraw my trust. I will be less available to work on our marriage.
3. I refuse to be physically intimate with a man who has indulged in his addiction without informing me. He will tell me of any relapse before initiating or allowing me to initiate sex. If he allows us to be sexual together without me knowing of a problem, I will stop having sex with him. For as long as I want to. Maybe forever.
4. I will only stay married to an addict if he is working toward recovery. Fortunately I have not had to carefully define this because my husband is passionate about his recovery and doing very well.
5. I will not allow my children to be exposed to pornography through their father. When I leave him home alone with the kids, I take the modem with me so there will be no internet access in the house. If he has a problem with this, I can choose whether to never leave the children alone with him or ask him to leave. Since he won't do what it takes to protect our children, I will.
6. I am unwilling to live with an addict with a "pocket flask." If he wants a smart phone, I will place parental restrictions on it, including removing all access to the internet, youtube, the app store, the iTunes store and in-app purchases. If he wants unhindered access to a smart phone, he can live somewhere else.
7. I am unwilling to move because of my husband's addiction. I LOVE where I live and it took a lot to get here. If he loses his current job due to his addiction, he may either choose to find a job locally, or to move away by himself. If he loses his job for any other reason, then of course I will move with him. We are a family.
8. This is a new one that I haven't had to implement yet, but he and I have agreed on it. The first time he relapses, he will spend one night out of the marital bed. I get to determine how far from the bed that might be, whether on the floor right next to the bed, or out of our house altogether. The second time, it will be two nights, the third time, three, etc. etc. indefinitely. If he lies or does not disclose a relapse, then the length of time out of the marital bed will double for that instance.
9. He will not initiate sex after a relapse until after the first time I have initiated, which can be as long or as short a time as I choose. If he initiates before then, he will be met with a no, and I will feel unsafe so it will be much longer before I feel ready.
Those are the major ones off the top of my head. What it all comes down to for me are these few ideas:
A. Boundaries are not saying, "No you can't" but "No I won't"
B. I get to have a say in my own life
C. I will choose what I will or will not participate in.
D. (from Dave Ramsey) We don't get to decide whether someone will behave badly; all we get to choose is how much distance we put between ourselves and people who behave badly.
LOVE IT! My boundaries have increased my happiness and feelings of safety so dramatically.
(And even though my husband has resisted many of these at first, he is now fully on board with them. He sees their wisdom. And he likes me better this way!)
How do you handle boundaries in your relationship? Any advice to other women?
Contributed by Cynthia at email@example.com.