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Boundaries vs ultimatums

Old 07-31-2012, 07:46 AM
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Boundaries vs ultimatums

I'm having trouble with my codependent self right now. I am home now after my 1 month away and I can actually say I am HAPPY. Truly joyful. And, I could care less what AH does or doesn't do right now. I honestly found a lot of peace just being away and realizing that if I choose to stay married, that's OK and that it might not look like a normal marriage but that's OK too. I also realized that I could choose to separate or divorce and that would be OK, too. It's all OK, and I have my Higher Power to thank for that. Now, here's my dilemma.

I am planning on having a talk with my AH later this week. I am going to tell him where I'm at emotionally, etc in the marriage. I'm also going to tell him that I'm not going to Costa Rica. The only boundary I want to set is that I am done accepting unacceptable behavior and that I won't live under the same roof with him if he continues to drink. Now, I know he'll lie and tell me he is done drinking and I know he'll find a way to try to weasel out of it and tell me he won't drink in front of me, etc. Blah, blah, quack, quack. I am done buying into his crap and I think he'll know it because I am prepared to be nice, be loving, speak kindly without accusations or malice, and I intend to speak from my heart. If he can't absorb words said in love even if they are hard to hear, that's his problem.

I was in Florida and I said these words to myself, "I'd rather live in my car than live in the same house with him if he continues to drink and put our family at risk." It was then that I knew I meant it and that I'd figure it out if I need to move out temporarily. I am possibly thinking that I could make a temporary move back to FL because it really was beneficial for my son's tennis training but it would be expensive and I'm not sure I want to swing it. In all this, I say temporary because I really don't want my marriage to end. If temporary becomes permanent, that's in my Higher Power's hands as I can't predict the future. I can only state how I feel today, where I want to be tomorrow(emotionally, spiritually, and physically) and grow from there. I want to grow, I want to trust God fully, and I have so much peace in these decisions that I really don't care what his reaction will be.

So, I keep wondering, though, if I am giving an ultimatum? I know it won't go well either way. He doesn't take well to boundary setting anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter. I guess I want to make sure that I am doing it FOR ME and my son, not to punish AH and his behavior. He can choose how he reacts and those are his choices.

It's funny. Last night we were watching TV and a political ad came on and he starts blathering about the lies and contradictions on the ad. I said, "You know, I really don't care for any of the candidates at this point. They're all a bunch of liars." He said something in a sarcastic retort that basically stated: I don't like your response, you don't agree with me, so now I'll go hide in my office. Honestly, I forgot what he said but it was along the lines of, "Whatever, why'd I say anything anyway?" He didn't like the fact that I didn't want to get into a political discussion and that I stated my own opinion which, obviously, was different from his. So, he went to his office to go do 'work' and hide.
He also decided to snap at me earlier in the day when I asked about his breathalyzer because he had to take the car to get an oil change. He just kept snapping, "I got this. I know what to do." Geez, I was just trying to make conversation. Note to self: don't talk about the interlock device, UGH!
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:57 AM
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I've said this before but a boundary isn't the words we use to communciate it, or even if we communciate it at all, it is the action we take to keep our life sane and happy.

you don't have to tell him at all. Most people "get" that putting their family at risk, risks the family staying together. and perhaps you may have mentioned how you feel about his drinking before once or twice?

If you want to communicate your boundary, as you say, however you word it - he is unlikely to welcome it respectfully with an open heart, so don't fret about the words.

In the end an ultimatum is one way to a communicate a boundary, it is just the final (ultimate) one: and there's no problem with that as long as you intend to follow through and the action follows.

The only problem with ultimatums is if you keep making them and not following through. ultimatums or any boundary don't "make " someone act differently, they define what you will do to keep your life sane and happy.

good luck.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:00 AM
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Alcoholics/junkies dont do well with ultimatums. BUT on the other hand, I had a hard time trying to set boundaries with a 41 year old grown @$$ adult. IMO she flat out should have "known better" at this stage in her life. But, this is also a mentally ill person, I am dealing with, with PTSD, sociopathic tendencies, and possibly bipolar??? I dont know what the hell I was expecting. She has spent so much time behind bars and in various correctional facilities that she thinks talks and acts like a convict, even outside the walls. (I was unaware of much of this, again, HAD I KNOWN I wouldnt have bothered.)...when this divorce BS is finally finalized, once and for all, and I spend about a year working on myself, my goal is to find a nice, normal NON JUNKIE/ALCOHOLIC s.o. who I dont have to set boundaries with because they flat out know better.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:16 AM
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Liz, you have pretty clearly stated what you want out of this so my question is:

What good do you think is going to come out of telling him?

I found that talking to an alcoholic while they are still drinking is about effective as talking to a tree except the tree doesn't get mad.

When I looked at my past and all the times I did this what I was really trying to do is control her drinking. That maybe this time she would get it. I have been separated for over a year now, in the process of getting a divorce and she still doesn't get it.

Your friend,
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
Liz, you have pretty clearly stated what you want out of this so my question is:

What good do you think is going to come out of telling him?

I found that talking to an alcoholic while they are still drinking is about effective as talking to a tree except the tree doesn't get mad.

When I looked at my past and all the times I did this what I was really trying to do is control her drinking. That maybe this time she would get it. I have been separated for over a year now, in the process of getting a divorce and she still doesn't get it.

Your friend,
Honestly, as a Christian woman I believe this is more for me. That God does not want me to live in fear of confrontation anymore and this is how I can start working towards overcoming my fears. ALL of my decisions are fear based and, therefore, not from God. They are a part of my own weaknesses and insecurities and I feel I need to confront myself with this as well as confront him. So, I think that's why I don't care about the outcome or how he feels. I am doing it for ME, and that's what matters. No expectations. Well, really, the only expectation I have is that I face my fear and that I get stronger as I work on my fears. I could just move out, but I feel that I'd be running away and there would be confrontation at some point. I want to learn how to say what I mean, mean what I say, and not say it mean. Maybe I see it as practice? God has a plan for me, and this is all part of my plan. It's not about him, it's about me. I seriously am actually looking forward to this, it's giving a lot of peace to know that I am ready to express myself and not FEAR the outcome.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:35 AM
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no crying wolf anymore, if that is what you mean...

say what you mean, and do as you say....

actions speak louder than words....( I am in that same position also...need to apply this today at my meeting)

god bless
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:37 AM
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Hey Liz-
Haven't you already made your thoughts and feelings about his drinking and behaviour known to him many times? I think, based on what you have posted that he knows very well how you feel and how you feel doesn't matter to him. He's heard it...all before.

You are very right when you say that staying married to him is ok. Whatever you decide to do is ok. I think staying married IS what you want. But from the outside looking in, I think staying married will necessitate you accepting him exactly as who and what he is. There can't be any realistic hope for change. He didn't just happen, this has been your married life experience with him. I wish you happiness however you find it Liz. You and your Son deserve it, but be realistic.

The other thing I have been wondering is why you seem to be concerned with treating him only with kindness and love and without accusations as though he is a child. Why not just lay it out? Let him know that you are standing up for yourself and Son and you need change. Let him know that you are serious (if you are) Please don't be a doormat. I say all this with kindness.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:49 AM
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Wow, great advice so far.

Liz, do what works for you. But also know that those of us here who are asking you why bother?! have been down this road before. I hope in your case something good comes out of it, even if its only an increased sense of self confidence and less fear on your part.

I have to agree with Alucard in his post above that a lot of what you are expecting is normal, grown up behavior from a husband and father. Yet you are dealing with an alcoholic, and that makes it all different. Alcoholics don't make good relationship material...as partners or parents. It is a very selfish disease. To you (and us) your needs, feelings, and expectations make perfect sense. I hope you can also find some validation in that, too.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:54 AM
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Liz, good answer, it looks like you have really thought this out. I can honestly say that when I did it I was still caught up in the dance.

Your friend,

Mike
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:00 AM
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I don't have much to add to what anyone else has said, aside from the fact that if you set an ultimatum you have to be willing to follow through with it on your end. Are you prepared to leave if he doesn't stop?
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:44 AM
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I told my AXH that I loved him, I wanted our family to stay together, but that I would not stay married to him unless he got help and got sober and went into recovery.

He laughed at me.

He stopped laughing when I left. And then he claimed it was a complete surprise and that our marriage had been the perfect marriage and my leaving came out of thin air and he had no idea that I hadn't been happy.

So I think Alucard is right: You can tell him whatever you want to, but don't expect him to hear and understand.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:52 AM
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Dear Liz, I am going to post the same as I have before. I believe that it applies to all of us. People do not act toward change as long as they are comfortable where they are.

People (and catipilars) change when the pain of where they are becomes greater than the pain of changing.

Liz, you are still within your comfort zone. You are not yet in enough pain to go toward change.

Active alcoholics get worse over time without a program of recovery. Therefore, things are destined to get worse down the line. Moreover, personality disorders are notoriously resistant to treatment, also. It is possible, that, down the line, you may reach a "tipping point" with your level of comfort.

We all care enough about you that we are pretty much in unison as we say: Stating hollow "boundries" and ultimatums will not be of any use to you.

dandylion.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
Dear Liz, I am going to post the same as I have before. I believe that it applies to all of us. People do not act toward change as long as they are comfortable where they are.

People (and catipilars) change when the pain of where they are becomes greater than the pain of changing.

Liz, you are still within your comfort zone. You are not yet in enough pain to go toward change.

Active alcoholics get worse over time without a program of recovery. Therefore, things are destined to get worse down the line. Moreover, personality disorders are notoriously resistant to treatment, also. It is possible, that, down the line, you may reach a "tipping point" with your level of comfort.

We all care enough about you that we are pretty much in unison as we say: Stating hollow "boundries" and ultimatums will not be of any use to you.

dandylion.
Boundaries and ultimatums are fine as long as you stick to your guns. Otherwise they are hollow and useless. BUT if you stick to your guns, they work, but the alcoholic will be out of your life. I set one 12 years ago with a junkie. And stuck to it, and she was gone for 12 years.....12 years later, she was back, stating herself to be "clean" when in all reality, it was a lie. That lasted 4 weeks. There were no boundaries or ultimatums this time, but it knew what I would and wouldnt put up with. There wont be a third chance.
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Old 07-31-2012, 01:33 PM
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This is great info, and reminds me how we simply have to live our lives, and step over the A if necessary. I just read a great interview with Ozzy Osbourne, who talked about Sharon's "tough love" (Ozzy has been clean and sober for 5 years):

Q: You credit (wife and manager) Sharon with helping pull you out of substance abuse, even saving your life.

A: She gave me some tough love. One time I was having a bad comedown from some stuff at 4 a.m. and I said, "I think I'm dying." And she goes, "Die quietly. I have a meeting tomorrow morning."
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:21 PM
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Here's my take on it...

Sounds like an ultimatum. An attempt to manipulate him into playing by your rules (ie. no more drinking). Isn't going to change a thing.

I sure hope you are working on a plan for the follow through (ie. Moving out of the house)...

otherwise, don't bother talking to him.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:26 PM
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Lizatola, I recommend you get the book "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life," by Cloud & Townsend.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post
Lizatola, I recommend you get the book "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life," by Cloud & Townsend.
I've read this and other books by both authors. I hear what everyone is saying here and I understand that I am setting myself up for most likely disappointment. I still feel that I need to get past our current situation, only comfortable talking about the weather and what's for dinner. Divorce is truly my last resort and I want to be able to say that I did everything in my power to keep us together even if he drops the ball on his side. I know it sounds crazy and maybe it will lead to a temporary reprieve, that's ok. Just buys me time to get a back up plan in action.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
Just buys me time to get a back up plan in action.
You're putting the cart before the horse by setting a boundary you are not prepared to follow through on.

Get the plan in place FIRST... then have the chat.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:22 PM
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The reason I'm so emphatic about this... is I put the cart before the horse... even though I was warned not to. What happened?

I liken our little chat to "throwing down the gauntlet!" I drew the line in the sand, and my XAH had no use for being told what to do. All he!! broke loose right before my eyes as he set out to prove just how much he would not be controlled. And me? Well, I was stuck living with an out of control, angry alcoholic.... and so were my kids.

**** pour planning... and life got worse, MUCH worse before I finally got an executable plan together.

In Al-anon, we talk about having alternate plans... Plan A, Plan B, Plan C... it's about being prepared and having a general idea of what we are going to do. It's not about controlling the outcome - its about protecting ourselves.

So... what is your PLAN? You say you'd rather live in a car than with a drinking husband. Are you REALLY ready to do just that? Because if you don't have a PLAN... that may be your only option if you have to leave ASAP.
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
The only boundary I want to set is that I am done accepting unacceptable behavior and that I won't live under the same roof with him if he continues to drink. Now, I know he'll lie and tell me he is done drinking and I know he'll find a way to try to weasel out of it and tell me he won't drink in front of me, etc. Blah, blah, quack, quack. I am done buying into his crap and I think he'll know it because I am prepared to be nice, be loving, speak kindly without accusations or malice, and I intend to speak from my heart. If he can't absorb words said in love even if they are hard to hear, that's his problem.
I really stink at boundaries, and am working hard on this part myself. I feel like you need to know that prior to my post.

I view boundaries as something for myself. I view ultimatums as something I am trying to put on someone else.

I think it is okay that you want to set a boundary, and I think the information you want to share can be made into a boundary, but the way that you worded it above sounds like an ultimatum to me.

For example aren't you still living with active alcoholism in this scenario if he does lie to you about the drinking, or tries to weasel out of it? He has not in that scenario changed his situation at all....but you are stuck with a crossed line again, and that was always hardest for me.

For example for years I told my ex that if his drinking "Ever looked like that again (meaning the first drunk episode) he had." I would leave. The problem is that he never punched a window or kicked a dog again (thank goodness). However he was drunk plenty, and got out of cars in traffic, vomited, hurt himself and me (emotionally). I had no understanding that I got to set what I was comfortable living with and what I was not...I was an important member of the relationship too.

I found if I did not have a plan in place for consequences I ended up just sharing my feelings (which is important), but that my expectations that my feelings and talking about it would change something always left me disappointed.

I finally learned boundaries in another way with my ex. Writing this out for you though is making me realize how not having boundaries in a relationship is a way for me of saying that "I am not worth x, y,z." Here I thought the whole time that if I had a boundary I was saying my loved one was a bad person.

Finally (sorry so long). I am not skilled yet enough to wing a conversation with someone about my boundary. I have to have it more planned out than that. I hope down the road that is not the case, but I have found that I lose it now if I don't have it written or planned with people I trust.

Thanks for the opportunity to learn my own edge.
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