Boundaries at will?
By changeup
11/25/2014 1:33:17 PM
I am trying to understand boundaries better. I feel like sometimes my wife creates new boundaries on the fly. Some of her boundaries are: no guilting, no heavy conversation, no physical contact, no inappropriate behavior.

We are currently separated, with me staying with family somewhat nearby. Because of the holiday week, her family is all coming into town. I haven't had much interaction with her family since they became aware of my addiction at the beginning of July. I texted her and told her that I wanted to reach out to them and asked if she had any concerns about me doing that or reasons why I should reconsider.

I wanted invite them to sit down with me for an opportunity for me to take accountability for the damage I have done to their family. I want them to know that I care about my family, I care about recovery, and I am remorseful that I have remained in my addiction for so many years. I feel like I owe something to them as part of their family now, and this is a way for me to honor them as a father and mother to my family.

My wife responded back later saying that she was ok with a letter or an email, but she wants to avoid heavy conversation and a sit down discussion while they're out here.

I understand having boundaries about how I interact with her, but I don't feel like she has the right to prohibit me from speaking with her parents. I looked at this as a very positive step for me, but now I don't see how it's possible. They won't want to do something that would make my wife feel uncomfortable. I just feel like I shouldn't have asked her in the first place. I should have just asked them and let them decide if they were willing to meet me or not.

Does anyone have any thoughts about this?


"Good for you for owning your addiction. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to share your challenges and struggles with others. Making amends helps both you and the people you're making amends to.

We're not there and therefore can't see/experience exactly what is going on in your relationship with your spouse. Therefore, take this advice with a grain of salt. It could be spot on...and it might miss reality by a mile.

You and your wife are currently separated. I am so sorry for that. You are undoubtedly hurting by this and she is hurting too. She knows her family very well. You have been willing to open up to them about your addiction. I wonder if her parents looking from the outside in want what's best for both of you right now. I wonder if they look at your efforts to right your wrongs are willing to forgive you and hope that you and she can work things out. I also wonder if your spouse realizes this and she's not yet in a forgiving mood. Perhaps she doesn't want you to receive their forgiveness just yet, because she hasn't forgiven you yet. It might tick her off if her parents warmly embraced you realizing that we're all human and we all make mistakes.

She has every right to her emotions, whatever they may be, just as you have a right to yours. For the sake of your relationship with her, you might want to respect her wishes even though they're missing the mark currently for what is really best for both of you.

If she is willing to go to marriage counseling with you, I would strongly advise you seek it out. Hopefully, with a therapist in the room she, and you, would feel safe enough to discuss what's going on. For myself, my therapist wanted me to get a better handle on my addiction before we started couples' therapy. She told me that there was one too many people in my marriage relationship at the moment, ie me, my wife, and my addiction.

If your wife is unwilling to go with you to therapy maybe she would be willing to go by herself. It would give her a safe environment to discuss her hurts,etc. the therapist, will most likely empathize with her, but also help her see that forgiveness is divine and ultimately will help her."
posted at 07:56:10 on November 26, 2014 by DANO42
One thought    
"I have one thought....

As you pointed out, you asked her if she had in any problems with you talking with her family to start. But when she said, yes, she did have an issue with that you then feel like she has no right to mediate your relationship with her family. Hmmmmm....seems like you might be sending her mixed messages. You messed up on this one and so it's a wash. You need to figure out YOUR boundaries first. An example would be creating a boundary that you will not allow triangulation in relationships. Each relationship is unique and you can set a rule that YOU will not create a situation where a third party is given the control between you and another person. That is a fine and healthy boundary and totally within your sphere to accomplish.

But you are still going to have to set priorities. Good manners and consideration would imply to me that it would be appropriate to ask you wife if she would mind if you set aside some time with her family since they were coming to visit HER. That is part of the relationship between you and you wife to ask for that level of consent. But how you interact with her family is between strictly you and them. Respect her time and her comfort levels but compartmentalizing the relationships is appropriate.

You didn't do that this time. That is not your wife's fault. That was yours. You set it up this way. Own it. Learn from it. Move on."
posted at 08:43:14 on December 3, 2014 by Maddy

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"If it were possible to make your road very easy, you wouldn’t grow in strength. If you were always forgiven for every mistake without effort on your part, you would never receive the blessings of repentance. If everything were done for you, you wouldn’t learn how to work, or gain self-confidence, or acquire the power to change. "

— Richard G. Scott

General Conference May 1990