My wife’s therapist has told her to set boundaries. My therapist has told me to set boundaries. “How do we do that?”, was a question we asked them.
My wife’s therapist put it in these terms:
Think of it as a stop light. There are things you are totally fine with- kidding, hugging, snuggling- those would be green lights. Then there are things you aren’t quite sure about- making out, sensuality- those would be yellow lights. Sex is obviously one of your red lights.”
That was a great way of putting the advice into laymen’s terms (I didn’t really know what it meant to set boundaries). She had told us something similar when she was our marriage therapist. My bride had used it once or twice. Meaning she would get really pissed and say, “Red light!” That was the extent of the boundaries. Last night we attempted to change that.
“What are your boundaries?” was my immediate question.
She hemmed and hawed around some; not really knowing what to say. She finally said that sex was a red light. But we already knew that. She eventually threw a couple of things out, some red, some yellow; I don’t recall any greens though it may have happened.
We progressed through our discussion. It was not going very well. Another way to say that would be that if I would have kept pushing her, I would be pulling pieces of her feet out of my spleen. Instead, I FINALLY read her body language. Shit, Stevie Wonder could have read her body language last night.
Here It Comes
During her last therapy session, her therapist told her that, “He says he is putting you first. You have to come to terms with the very likely possibility that he has not done that. It is most likely that he is putting his recovery first, followed by his addiction and then, possibly, you. Can you deal with that?”
“I think so.”
We discussed this for quite some time when she brought it up. I asked her if she really COULD deal with that if it were the case. “Yes, as long as you’re making progress.”
:::Fast forward to this evening:::
Our youngest son is participating in a wrestling dual tonight; he is outrageously talented. My bride is going to the dual, alone. I am going to my SA meeting. As we were preparing to leave, she asked me if I would go with her.
“No, I have to go to my meeting.”
:::A few moments passed:::
“I’m not trying to guilt trip you, but, you know my therapist said this would happen. That you would end up having a relationship with your recovery.”
You said you were ok with it.
I’m going to my meeting.
“I wish you would go with me.”
I’m going to my meeting.
“It would just be nice that when our kids have something, you could go to a meeting on another night.”
“What are you talking about?”
I want you to stop. Red Light.
Skipping my meeting.
“Ok, sometimes I need you to explain.”
This is something I never would have done before. If there was a point of disagreement, I would push through and fight. That doesn’t work. Ever. Time for a new way to think about things. Remember, I’m operating by the Costanza Principle. My thinking has not worked, do something different.