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Is this a boundary?

Old 03-23-2011, 07:43 PM
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Is this a boundary?

Looking for thoughts on this,

Some may know, AH and I are separated over a year now, 20+ year marriage, 3 kids. AH not really in recovery, Alanon is helping me, as well as therapy and SR

Most recently AH got DUI and at this same time I was deciding to stop couples counseling and focus primarily on my own recovery.

AH indicated he was going to take care of his DUI status and attend some kind of outpatient treatment - not really sure what this is.

We decided to take a break from couples counseling.

I told AH that I didn't see myself going back to couple counseling and working on reconciliation unless during this interim period he worked on his recovery with either a counselor (he stopped seeing his counselor a couple of months ago) or a AA sponsor involved (he never got one). This was my decision and his choice.

I felt good about saying this and truly feel I will move in a different direction if he chooses not to do this. At first he said I was asking for a final outcome and I firmly stated no I was not, I was only wanting a counselor and/or sponsor to be part of the process.

It seems like boundary setting but not sure since that is something I have trouble with. I just feel if I don't establish this I will just continue in a cycle where AH claims he is working on not drinking and recovery and I won't believe him but with counselor or sponsor I might have some input other than AH to help me feel comfortable that he is at least making an effort.

Maybe I'm still being codie, but if so maybe it's a little less codie that before.

Wondering how others view this?
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:40 PM
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I'm somewhat new to all this too, but the way I understand a boundary is based on what behavior you are not willing to deal with and then making it known and what you will do if the boundary is crossed. Example: it upsets me when you drink, so if you chose to drink then don't come home. Go drink somewhere I don't have to be around you. OR since you snore when you drink, and therefore I can't sleep you need to go sleep on the couch.

What you have discussed above seems more like a demand. You will not do X until he does Z. I think you could make it into a boundary by rephrasing it .... If you chose to drink, then I don't want to waste my time in counseling. If you chose the path of recovery I would be open to going back into counseling.

I have a hard time with the difference of setting a boundary and having consequences for negative behavior. Can they be the same? Seems like it to me.. you drink, you snore, the consequence is sleeping on the couch.

What I am having trouble with currently is understanding if I have set a boundary, simply punishing him or letting my reaction be the consequence to his behavior (everyone says they need to feel the consequences of their behavior) . I reached a new low with my AH. With all the lies, continued drinking, moody attitudes, walking on egg shells, being a married single parent, etc, I have no desire to be intimate with him. He crossed my boundary of how I deserve/need to be treated, and now the consequence is me not wanting to be with him. I'm sure he feels it is punishment. Can it be all three, and is that okay? I've decided I needed to do this for ME for my recovery. There has been way to many times I have been intimate with him out of fear of his attitude if I didn't. It made me feel very unloved and used, which is not a healthy way to feel.

The people here have great wisdom with this stuff. I'd like for them to help us both out on this one. Gets a bit mixed up in my head as you can see.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:47 PM
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Sorry Dancing... I kind of tagged along in your post. I hope you don't mind. Your question was something I really need to get a better understanding of too.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:13 AM
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Thanks Alone, no apologies needed.

How you describe your understanding of boundaries is clear and makes sense to me.

Its similar to you where I am at with my feelings toward AH.

Sometimes I think it's so complicated and my reactions to AH behavior were not good in the past, so AH and I are probably both paying the consequences for them.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:53 AM
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I think it could be a boundary.

What you're really looking for is some sign that he is working on his recovery more than just giving lip service/checking off boxes of "Yep, went to an AA meeting today," etc.
Going to marriage counseling without him working a recovery program only gives him the opportunity to try and throw the responsibilities for failure back onto you, so this is certainly a fair request.

I guess basically it comes down to your thoughts behind this.
If he didn't get his own counselor, and didn't get an AA sponsor, but did something else that seemed to be in that same vein and showing that he was interested in his own recovery, would that fulfill your request in your mind?

If yes, then it's a boundary, and you're just giving him examples of what you need to see from him before you commit your time to a process that right now doesn't feel like it's working for you.

Just my thoughts.


I think the main difference between an ultimatum and a boundary is our mindset.
If we approach it trying to change someone's behavior, it's not a boundary.
If we're just defining how we feel about things, and putting protections in place for our feelings, without any expectations from the other person's side, then it's a boundary. (Note: Expectations are different than hopes and guesses.)

I also like what Alone22 posted.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:39 AM
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your life, your decision...does not matter if it is, or it is not...you state a fact for you...wether he complies or not...

what you see has opened your eyes...he is doing NOTHING to get better for himself...

good for you! taking charge of your new life is an awesome feeling....
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:04 PM
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It's a boundary if you stick to your word. It's sound and fury, signifying nothing, if you don't.

Good luck. I know it's hard.

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Old 03-26-2011, 03:26 PM
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Well so far I am sticking to my boundary and yes in some ways it's hard but I think there are two ways I'm looking at it -

It's hard to change the way I have been expecting AH to be there for me as a partner but if I put in some effort to get through and do things differently - reaching out to others for help and taking care of myself and setting better boundaries with AH and with my kids and with work folks - it seems it will get a little easier.

OTOH it's hard for me to stop reaching out to AH and expecting him to be embracing recovery - he's not doing it now and nothing I do will make him do it.

So basically we are no contact, except for me bringing DS to him every other weekend. I stuck to my guns when he emailed me if he could get a ride to DS soccer game this weekend DS is with me. I emailed back - When you are in a recovery program we can interact with each other.

It took great effort for me to just do that and let it go. Haven't heard from since and seems he is trying to get my 17 yo DD to bring him over here to get his bike. Yeah, right he's going to start getting fit - sort of like the arm lifting exercise, only he's going to go the short distance on his bike to liquor store.

Got to get out of this mode now because it's not helping my attitude. It is hard, sticking to boundaries that are best for me and having the attitude to go with it.

Thanks SR friends for providing a place to vent and get rid of my bad attitude and for everyone's support.
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