by Kevie Simon on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
The word boundaries tends to give my teenage self the shivers when said out loud. Boundaries seem like a torturous device my parents used in my past to keep me from having fun. The fact of the matter is healthy boundaries actually give freedom rather than remove it. They provide guardrails to keep from falling into activities that are not beneficial, although they may look that way from the outside looking in.
When you find out you are the partner of a sex addict, there can be a willingness to do whatever the addict says in order to save the marriage. Counterintuitively, this type of attitude is actually enabling the addict to continue in their unhealthy behaviors. In order to protect yourself and fight for your marriage, create boundaries to take care of you. Everyone’s boundaries will look differently, but the core are the same: what do you need from your partner in order to feel safe and healthy in your relationship?
Boundaries need to be clear and measurable in order to work. Asking your partner not to lust is not a clear boundary. Not going to strip clubs or interacting with past affair partners are concrete, clear boundaries that can be set in place in order to empower yourself and your partner to new habits. Through this change, you are able to keep yourself safe and begin to find your voice in the midst of a chaotic situation. Boundaries are not simply rules to keep the addict from acting out, they are framework where you as the partner begin to feel safe and secure.
In addition to setting boundaries, it is empowering to set goals for yourself throughout this process. This gives you a pathway, a set plan, to see progress within your own journey and give you something to work towards. Similar to the boundaries set for your partner, your goals must be clear and measurable. Think about it this way: what can you work on in your life that will bring you health and healing? Your personal recovery, as a partner, is the most important part of your journey. The addict needs to care for himself, as you need to learn to care for yourself.
Don’t forget to encourage and affirm yourself and your partner for sticking to boundaries and goals. This is not a negative process filled with rules to follow, but a process of learning how to move forward as individuals and as a couple. The process of recovery from sex addiction is not easy. It requires hard work and sacrifice from everyone involved. Affirmation is key to seeing the small victories that are accomplished throughout the journey, celebrating these victories along the way.