I have been thinking a lot about Boundary Agreements this week. In fact, I am in the process of creating one. I haven’t shared it with Mr. Mess yet, but I plan to soon – once this current crisis has balanced out a bit.
I think one of the best resources I have found so far is a blog post by Mock Turtle’s Musings. Here is a link to the post: http://mockturtlemusings.com/2012/06/boundary-agreement.html
Because she uses Blogspot instead of WordPress it is difficult to reblog her posts. I have copied and pasted the information here because I think it is so powerful.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I have two Boundary Agreements with Devin. One is signed and dated and the other is an email we sent back and forth months later, a more “common sense” agreement.
The idea behind the Boundary Agreement is two-fold. It allows the partner to set their boundaries while enforcing consequences when the boundaries are broken and helps create a safe environment for the partner. Secondly, it informs the sex addict of what the partner is willing to tolerate within their relationship and what to expect when the boundaries are crossed. It helps to define guidelines of acceptable behavior within the relationship.
It would seem that a mature couple would already have these guidelines, dare I say, rules, established before they get married but surprisingly most married couples make the assumption that their partner will not cheat on them or that they both have the same understanding of what cheating means.
However, not every person feels the same way about what the definition of cheating means or what is acceptable behavior within the confines of a relationship.
One couple may not have any problems with their spouse exchanging emails with someone of the opposite sex and not knowing it’s being done, what’s being said or perhaps that pictures are being exchanged but another couple may not feel that’s acceptable. There are of course levels to these emails; I took it to the extreme.
Some couples may feel fine with their spouse going to lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex and confiding in them about personal problems that are going on at home, while other couples may feel that is crossing a line. What about a simple smack on the ass at work or a neck rub? Where does that fit?
One couple may need to know where their spouse will be during the day or after work while another may not have any concerns at all and be confident that their spouse is just “doing their thing”.
Everyone is going to be different and in my case all the above is off limits for Devin. They never used to be but they are now.
Of course, when dealing with a sex addict, that Boundary Agreement is a contract that must be written or at least verbally agreed to in a way that the partner can stick to.
For instance, in my Boundary Agreement, I have written and signed that if Devin cheats on me on-line or in person, I will leave. This is something that I know I can abide by under no uncertain terms.
I also have if he slips and/or relapses I must be notified by him within 24 hours or I will withhold affection for three days.
Sounds crazy right? Like I’m punishing a child? In a sense, I am punishing a child, a grown man-child. Sex addicts tend to stop maturing at the age of their first sexual acting out and/or experience. They need to know there will be consequences for their actions or they will not stop the behavior. That’s why it’s so important to create a boundary that can be enforced by the partner or it’s useless. Much like the mom who says “Don’t make me take that toy away!” and then does nothing when the child continues to misbehave. Nothing is learned.
Devin thrives off of my affection for him. He loves to be loved and feel my hugs and my kisses and when I take that away, it hurts him. It hurts me too but I have to stick by the consequence…and, in all honesty, as time has passed the typed document has changed and been tweaked verbally. I was a week after Disclosure Day and a mental nut case…a dictator with a crushed heart. I knew next to nothing about this addiction and it shows it my Boundary Agreement. ****eta (after writing this post I updated the BA in writing)
My “common sense” agreement I still stick to because, well, it’s common sense. Text me when you’ll be running late, things like that.
Devin HATED, HATED these things when I first put them in place. He felt like I was trying to control him because, at the time, he had been so completely out of control. Now, it’s simply second nature and he’s not bothered at all.
Also, a great book that has nothing to do with sex addiction but is about how to trust again after an affair: Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass – it rocks!