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Need advice: Fine line between "helping" and enabling

Old 05-09-2008, 12:31 PM
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Need advice: Fine line between "helping" and enabling

I don't have an appointment with my therapist until next week and some questions are nagging me so thought I would pose them here and see what you all thought...

My AH is in recovery (DOC: crack - clean for 3.5 months) so we are both working on ourselves and working programs, etc...

Yesterday he got himself into a bind when he wanted to go to this men's group (for addicts in recovery) yet he needed to pick up his son as it was our night to have his kids. He did try to get him a ride to our house but nothing worked out so he was faced with having to ask me to do it or his ex-wife. He knew that I would not be happy with having to do it since our two kids have been sick at home for the past few days and I have generally made it known that I will no longer pick up his pieces when he over-commits himself.

So my question is... He was pissed when I told him that I wasn't happy about having to do it. I also did feel it was important that he attend the men's group but when he said something like 'How do you think it feels that I can even ask my wife to help me'... I felt like I was being manipulated. So where is the line between helping someone without enabling?

Thanks
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Old 05-09-2008, 12:47 PM
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I know...it's so hard to distinguish.
I usually follow this rule of thumb...If a request from someone makes me uncomfortable then I won't do it for them. You felt uncomfortable for a reason....this responsibility belongs to your husband. That comment he made was to inject guilt into your decision thereby causing you to rethink your decision...end result...maybe he'll get what he wants. Maybe you can suggest that he make arrangements with his exwife. They are their children after all. So you can stay home and take care of your kids. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-09-2008, 01:00 PM
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When I do for others what they can and should do for themself...that is enabling.
In the case you put before us... My "opinion" (so take it or leave it)
A balance of what is best for the child along with a need for him to be at men's group would of had me say yes I will help but maybe let him know he needs to check his schedule better.

If it is and has been a boundary you have placed and used in the past...you did right to hold it firm. If it is a new boundary...communication of that fact and letting him know it won't be done again would be a support and help to him.
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Old 05-09-2008, 01:01 PM
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Thanks Cupicake. That is a good rule of thumb. And he is all about trying to make me feel guilty because that has always worked in the past, but now that I am working on myself I can see all the things that I was doing before that were making me feel horrible.

Not to be harsh about my stepkids, but I feel like they have two parents who are actively involved in their lives and the two of the need to make arrangements to care for them. I think what ticked me off was when he told me that his ex has said she had dinner plans that she would cancel in order to pick up her son but my husband said to me 'I don't really feel comfortable with that' and I was left feeling that it was okay for him to inconvenience me but not her??! Trust me, I will be bringing that one up in our therapy session next week!
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Old 05-10-2008, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by jackjack View Post
I think what ticked me off was when he told me that his ex has said she had dinner plans that she would cancel in order to pick up her son but my husband said to me 'I don't really feel comfortable with that' and I was left feeling that it was okay for him to inconvenience me but not her??!
Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if we could just avoid being uncomfortable all the time?! I completely agree he was manipulating you, and good for you for establishing boundaries for when he over-commits himself!
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Old 05-10-2008, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jackjack View Post
Trust me, I will be bringing that one up in our therapy session next week!
Was thinking counseling sounds like what is needed and then I read what is quoted.

Good for you. You are using the right tools.
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