?? about setting/crossing boundaries

Old 02-19-2010, 07:21 PM
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?? about setting/crossing boundaries

so my ah and i were seperated for quite sometime. i decided that i had to give this marriage one last try based on him agreeing to the following boundaries - no drinking and no name calling and attempting better communication. now i thought the first two were pretty concrete...but now i have a dilemma. my ah is a dj and dj's at a bar. i have not witnessed him drinking in months, but i don't believe he has stopped. tonight he told me that since he had to go work with a friend tomorrow at 7am, that after he dj'ed tonight, he was going to stay with our friend who is the bartender and go to breakfast with the guys (just stay up instead of sleep) we lived 1 mile from our friend - the only reason in my mind that he would want to stay there is because he intends to drink tonight and does not want me to know. the other reasons make no sense to here i am stuck. i want to drive down there tonight and pop in and see if he is drinking, but that would be trying to control him so i won't. i know if i ask him, he is going to tell me that he was not drinking. however, to me this really does break the boundaries i have set. do you think that i am wrong to say no drinking....even if it does not happen near me or the kids? i kinda feel like his drinking is like having a hidden affair - hiding it, and lying about it. again, i have no idea if he actually is drinking....only what my intuition is telling me. any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:40 PM
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Someone once told me alcohol is like having an affair with a 'sour grape'. Don't follow him. No you're not wrong in saying no drinking. But is he really going to listen? He knows the boundaries, and you still suspect he's drinking, I can tell right away when mine has had even one drink.

Your intuition is probably right, I think if he was coming home instead of staying out he would probably stick to the boundaries. Do his friends know about the boundaries you to have agreed on?
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:41 PM
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What if he really does want to stay up all night with the boys?
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:03 PM
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You said you set boundaries for no drinking and no name calling and attempting better communication. How exactly did you set them? What are the consequences, if he does walk all over and totally disregards your boundaries?

For me I learned that I can set boundaries, like "no drinking", BUT just because I set that boundary doesn't necessarily mean AH will follow it. I don't know if you have read the sticky on boundaries - I found that to be very helpful. Remember that:

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 descriptive 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.
If you continue this behavior - a description of what steps you will take to protect the boundary that you have set.

What I have learned in the past few months was that setting a boundary is very important, BUT you also need to be willing to ENFORCE that boundary. Also remember that boundaries are for you!!

When I told my AH that there was no drinking in the house, he didn't drink in the house when I was around, but as soon as I left he would start drinking and there was really nothing I could do about. So we ended up having one arguement after another and nothing really changed. I realized that my boundary really wasn't set up very well. I also realized that I was trying to use this so-called boundary to control and change him and it just wasn't working. Now my boundary around drinking is: If you drink, I will not engage with you, I will not let myself be pulled into arguements, I will go about my own business and I will not sleep in the same bed as you. A lot of times he doesn't respect me pulling away and wanting space when he drinks, so then I will either go into another room and lock the door or leave the house.
My boundary about name calling/ verbal abuse is also very straight forward: If you are disrespectful I will remind you to be respectful, if you continue to be disrespectful I will walk away/ leave the room or house.

So while I have boundaries in place now... AH will at times disregard them and then I have to enforce them (using whatever actions I defined as a consequence).

I am still somewhat new to this, but hope it helps at least a little. I'm sure you will get some good advice from some of the pro's here very soon
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mentallyexh View Post
do you think that i am wrong to say no drinking....even if it does not happen near me or the kids?
P.S. I think you have every right to say no drinking, BUT what are you going to do about it if he just disregards it and goes out and drinks? What's your plan? If there are no consequences then why should he do what you say? Look at it this way: He knows you don't want him to drink, but he really really wants to drink, and past behavior might have shown him that he can get away with drinking and lying about it - so why should he stick to the boundary, why not just keep doing what he's been doing?
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:30 PM
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It seems you have suffered the same dilemma I did when I first started trying to set boundaries before I came here and got a better understanding of what they are.

When I told XABF I would have to leave if he continued to sit in the house and binge drink (because I saw that it always caused him to be verbally abusive to me).

He saw the issue as being about drinking in the house so he started drinking before he ever got home and would sit off in his truck somewhere to get drunk. I was either trying to track him down by driving around looking for him or I was sitting at home upset and stewing about his behavior. When he did finally get home, the abuse continued.

I stayed stuck in the same loop because I felt I had failed. Technically he did what I asked of him.

It helped me to think of boundaries as rules for me, not rules for my XABF. I can police my actions and my responses to what went on in our house. I had no ability or for that matter energy, to police his actions. That would have been a full time job anyway.

My boundaries became more about how the behavior affected me and what I intended to do about it rather than stopping him from doing what he was hell bent set on. So I stopped caring when he drank, where he drank, how much he drank, or whether he drank at all because in reality it wasn't the drinking at all that was the problem, it was the abuse. So when he would be verbally abusive, I'd walk away. I'd leave the room, go to another part of the house or even leave the house entirely.

He started to get the message but still associated his behavior with drinking and vowed to quit. He was a retched dry drunk for a week nasty as ever. I stayed far from him. When he argued with me why I was still walking away because he hadn't been drinking, I did tell him that it wasn't about the booze it was how I felt I was treated and I would continue to protect myself as long as the behavior continued. He tried hard to change but the alcohol wooed him back and never good string enough non-nasty days together. I still hovered on the fence for a while about leaving due to finances, but eventually I had to.

It seems to be your AH has interpreted your boundaries as being really just about drinking. He probably thinks if your don't catch him drinking than things will be fine. Of course, if you catch him drinking, he'll have an excuse for it for sure.

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Old 02-20-2010, 03:11 AM
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thank you all for your replies. when i said no drinking if we were going to work on our marriage, this is what i meant. i told him that i would not live with him anymore if he was going to drink.....but i can't enforce that if i am not sure if he is drinking. btw the reason i said no drinking at all is because - first he is horribly verbally abusive when he drinks and second, he has gained so much weight and i am very concerned for his health. he is only 38 and i am 35 and if he continues this way it won't be long before he has a heart attack or something like that, and i believe that all his drinking has very much deteriorated his health. i don't want to take care of someone for the rest of my life because they didn't take care of themselves. mabye that is selfish, but it is reality.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:59 AM
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I would assume that you've been at this long enough to know when he is drinking or exhibiting the behaviors of an alcoholic. The boundary issue is tough - we've all set boundaries, and tell our A's the consequences, but if we haven't followed through, they know these are idle threats. I am divorcing my AW because my boundary was no drinking and driving with the children in the car. This boundary was set after she had a car accident with the children, and a BAC of .33 on a Saturday afternoon. She went to in-patient, and lived in a halfway house for 12 months before she came home. She was truly offended when I told her it was over after she drove with the children 10+ times after drinking. I was convinced that she wouldn't do it, so every time I thought that she had, she would deny it, and I would try to figure out what else could be causing the behavior.

Don't worry about finding evidence that he is drinking. I gave my AW once last chance and it has been miserable, but now I can walk away with my four children and no regrets.

Good luck and give Alanon a try. It has brought me inner peace.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:20 AM
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here are my thoughts, mentally:

you are in the "one more chance" stage. curious how long he has been back in the house. if my guy was away for months or even weeks, wild horses would have to keep me from being in the same bed with him, whether i had an early wake up call or not.

you have some intuition for a reason. all too often we don't listen to what it is telling us, although i do realize that sometimes it goes haywire because of broken trust.
but don't minimize what you are sensing. you know him.

imo if he is not working a strong program, he has no chance of being sober. he can knock off the booze for awhile, but he will be white-knuckling it. which is probably what he's been doing, which is probably why, if your hunch was right, he wanted to stay at the friend's and induldge.
is he doing aa or a different program?

this thing about checking up on him. for one thing, if we continually are checking up, it is exhausting and it makes us crazy, plus takes away from what we should really be doing.
if this set-up occurs again, i say it would maybe be worth it to do what you were thinking about. and it's because it would put all of this to a stop. at least then you'd know what you now suspect, you could follow through with terminating the marriage and put this all behind you. otherwise it can just drag on and on and on and that too is unhealthy.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:23 AM
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I don't see where he has crossed a boundary. You didn't specify he had to sleep in the marital bed every night. Anything else is speculation on your part.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:44 AM
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Mentally, what I see is that you set boundaries for him, not for yourself, and expected him to follow them.

Boundaries are things that we set for ourselves, that belong to us. Instead of saying a boundary is "He will not drink" - a boundary for YOU is "I will not have a relationship with someone who drinks." Things you talk about with your partner about how you would like them to behave are "expectations" and not boundaries. Expectations are things we have no control over - we would LIKE our partner to do certain things and we communicate this - but our partner may or may not do what we expect. Often times, especially when dealing with alcoholics/addicts/etc, expectations lead to disappointment.

Your boundary, on the other hand, is something you DO have control over, because you are only looking to control your own behavior. If your boundary is "I will not be in a relationship with someone who cheats on me" and your partner cheats on you, then YOU control your own behavior, honor your boundary, and leave the relationship. It puts the power over your life into your own hands.

I hope this makes sense. What are YOUR boundaries, and how will you honor yourself both in the setting and the enforcing of them?
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:22 PM
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I agree with the others - boundaries are about you and what you can control. Consequences are a big part of setting boundaries and if not followed through on - it doesn't work.

I started setting boundaries awhile ago - at first they were about me taking stands for the things I would or would not do - and left it to him to either stay or go. When RAH was not sober - he would threaten to leave me if I didn't do things his way - so when I stopped being afraid - he never left and found some way to resolve his issue. On a greater scale - it eventually led up to our separation - set by me b/c of outrageous behavior -and then he got sober. We have not been reunited though tried - b/c I am still setting boundaries - it was never with the drinking - but the behaviors - those could be controlled more easily. So that even in sobriety - I can still set boundaries and he has to deal with the issues. I am certain that he may one day decide not to come back or I may decide I want to move forward without him - but for now - I am setting boundaries.

I found that when setting the boundaries and following through with the consequences - it has been much easier for me to see what is real - and it I feel more confident in my choices. I may not like it that he is not around - but I know the reason - it wasn't a decision made impulsively or based on emotions.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:58 PM
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I see what you are saying about setting boundaries for myself....that makes sense. I can't imagine what he would do if I said I wasn't coming home one night I was staying at friends....oh the accusations he would make. But then, as always, he gets to live by his own standards, my own set by him are much higher! We were seperated for 3 months, and due to me being in the hosptial briefly and some other circumstances in our lives he is now's been a week....we'll see is all I have to say!
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Old 02-21-2010, 04:24 PM
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One other thing about boundaries that occurs to me, and sometimes a difficult step for codependents.

Sometimes other people will get mad at you when you enforce your boundaries. For instance, for years I was very upset by my husband's love of pornography. I do not like porn, I think it is unhealthy, and he was very into it.

We had a long talk this weekend about taking next steps to move on, since he has begun seeing someone and spent the night with her. We talked a little about the porn issue, and he got defensive and mad, trying to tell me I was silly to have a problem with it.

In the past, I would have apologized or felt like I should do something so he wouldn't be mad about it. I would have questioned my boundary. That's so typical for me as a codependent.

This time, I just said "I don't need your permission to have a boundary. They are MY boundaries, and just because YOU don't like them doesn't mean they don't exist for me. Be mad all you want, I don't owe you an apology for disliking porn."

Remember that it is OK for others to be angry. I don't have to own their anger, control or fix it. They are responsible for their own feelings and I am responsible for mine.
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