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Old 03-24-2014, 06:27 PM
seakinganswers seakinganswers is offline
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Default Boundaries in relationships

I haven't posted in awhile. To remind everybody I recognize myself as poly but am willing to be Mono for my wife who wants nothing to do with the lifestyle. I cheated on her a few times roughly 5 years ago. All the trust issues got much worse recently when I told her I'm a freak in the bedroom and oh by the way I want an open relationship.

That's the cliff notes. We are seeing a therapist and I'm keeping an open mind even though the therapist isn't really poly friendly. Recently she started discussing setting up boundaries. My initial reaction wasn't great. At first I told her I don't have any. I completely trust her. And if she ever broke that trust then maybe our relationship isn't worth saving. That's how I think relationships should work in a perfect world. But reality us we don't live in a perfect world and no relationship is perfect.

So I started thinking about what my boundaries might be. So far the only one I came up with was that she is no longer allowed to look in my phone or log into my Facebook to check in on me. When she started doing it I thought full openness and honesty would foster trust. It had the opposite effect and she is almost convinced I am sleeping with this girl at work, just because we occasionally text outside of work and sometimes have some "inappropriate" humor. Even though I have 3 other guys at work I do the same with. Anyways I got tired of all the questions and accusations and decided to make that my first boundary. Is this productive? I have some friends that say they would never let their wife see their phone and they extend the same courtesy to their wife.

My other problem is that so far I have one boundary and it has to do with her lack of trust in me. I'm pretty sure her boundary list will be extensive and most will also have to do with her lack of trust in me. And on top if that we have a history of her using her being "uncomfortable" with certain situations to manipulate me and take all the fun out if anything I ever want to do. I think it's part of what got our relationship to be so bad before I cheated. So Something deep down inside me avoids boundaries like the plague. I have this image in my head of a dozen rules and boundaries having to do with who I spend time with, when, and what time my curfew is. It doesn't help that I got home at almost 4am the other day by no fault of my own. A few girls that came with us couldn't find their car and one thing turned into another and I just never felt comfortable leaving them downtown around a bunch of drunk and homeless guys walking down the street until they were safely in their car and on their way home.

I feel like I keep doing the right things and the honorable things and getting in trouble at home for it. Kind of like I can't win. And I will not agree to any curfew. At most ill agree to text her if I'm going to come home past a certain time but even that has to be flexible because I'm not about to watch my clock and get an earful just because I didn't text her in time.

Am I being ridiculous? I just don't get her mentality at all. But then again, I'm the guy that's so happy for her when she comes home and tells me a guy hit on her because I know it made her happy, so I have a hard time when I get an opportunity to do something fun and her initial reaction always seems so self centered and selfish because of all her insecurities. I guess in a sense we already have different boundaries. She can go on a cruise with her girlfriends and I can't. She can do overnight trips, she could go to Vegas, she could try out for Big Brother if she wanted to, etc, etc. I wouldn't be able to do any if these things. So maybe spelling them out will be helpful even if I think they would be unfair.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:30 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Sounds like a lop sided relationship. 2 things popped into my head

1 - that sounds like a fair boundary, but if you relationship was built on respect and trust, you wouldn't need to define it.
2 - Really sounds like most of this is stuff you need to be talking to the councilor about. From the surface it seems like you two have a different concept of what a relationship is. You have to build back trust. Some people would say slowly, others would say throw her in the fire. Up to you. You could allow her to build a craptastic amount of walls around your life, and then try to break each down individually..

Or you could decide you both have different ideas of what a relationship is.. she has very little trust in you.. those are two things that would generally push someone away.

Boundaries can be healthy.. sometimes they aren't just boundaries but little pieces of control. And on top of that, its up to each person to figure out how much control others can have over them, so the boundary is in fact, healthy for them. If her boundaries make you feel manipulated and controlled.. then that is another factor to take in

I guess the short of it is, based on what you have said you like and want.. you have 3 personal red flags about this relationship..

Then again, she hasn't defined her boundaries. You may be pleasantly surprised when you actually start negotiating. Councillors are virtually useless (I am saying this in a semi endearing way.. they are useless to people who already communicate well) .. they are (or should be) exceptional at one thing, mediating. Bringing two sides together to talk. They tend not to prescribe anything beyond all parties communicating.. in the end they get paid to help all parties talk. Compromise and meet somewhere in the middle to make everyone happy. If there is no middle ground. Break up.

Best of luck..
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2014, 07:53 PM
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alibabe_muse alibabe_muse is offline
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Rules - acts of control - can wave their wand as a boundary, when in reality, it's a rule. A spouse is a partner, an equal, but sometimes for their comfort level a rule gets used and is coated as a boundary. Need to discern when she states a boundary whether it is just that (her boundary for her comfort level) or a rule that controls your actions and ability to be autonomous.

A boundary hub and I have is no discussion of a want or need first thing in the morning. This is not just a trigger for him but me as well. Makes for a bad day all around. A new boundary starting to form is to communicate a need or want face to face rather via text. A text...well a text is a chicken's way out of dealing with an answer they don't want. It's not fair nor is it true communication. I'm just as guilty of it as my partner is. His texts are "wants" and mine are "issues". Usually mine come up when at work and his, well his are when I am just in another room and he can't wait to approach me in person (usually won't bring it up in person so if he wants to discuss something I'm refusing to reply via text).

Due to being new at my job (it's a professional position), living in a small community, I have a boundary for hub and his girlfriend to not kiss in my work parking lot when she picks him up (we only have one car) or drops him off the next day (oh I work long hours right now except today...a sick kiddo I'm home with until hub gets off work). That's my boundary. I'm not trying to control how they show love to each other at all. He sleeps over with her, goes out with her, etc. But as I said, new to my job and we are not "out". I don't feel a desire to have to explain to a co-worker (whom I barely know nor know to trust) what they just saw. Hub and girlfriend can respect it or they can choose to not. So far it appears it's respected.

Just remember a boundary is not a rule and a boundary can change with needs and wants.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:41 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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Initial thoughts-

1)Any rules need to go both ways. If no peeking at fb-neither of u get to. Etc. this tends to help the "stricter" person understand some of their annoying rules because they are bound by them as well *even if them doing xyz activity wouldnt bother their partner*
2) when defined as rules=things I hold you accountable for & boundaries=things I/we hold ourselves accountable for;
rules tend to backfire. Very destructive for ANY relationship, sexual or not.
Whereas boundaries are a natural occurence and discussing them tends to help partners (again of any type-not only romantic/sexual partners) clarify what they can be expected to do/be in any particular scenario. Also help an individual clarify for themselves how they expect themselves to act AND make idiosyncracies, biases, double sta dards easier to detect for ones self.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:53 PM
seakinganswers seakinganswers is offline
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I think I see what y'all are saying. I think the two of us would have a hard time agreeing what a rule is and what a boundary is. I honestly don't think her intent is to use boundaries to manipulate. I think she genuinely is uncomfortable with anything outside her control because she has trust issues. So in her mind its just a boundary to make her comfortable. When in reality it's nothing more than her subconscious attempt to control everything around her.

I should mention she already broke the one boundary I set and looked at my text history, then when I caught her she starts trying to validate her decision by saying their were questionable texts from a girl that called me a nickname. Which of course must mean I am cheating on her with this girl. And she joked about missing me when I was on vacation because last time I came back from vacation everybody at work acted like they didn't even know I was gone.

She is not sure she wants to respect my boundary because it gives me carte Blanche to cheat on her without her finding out. I keep trying to tell her that if she thinks by her not checking my phone I will run out and cheat on her then we might as well end this thing now.
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Old 03-24-2014, 10:29 PM
seakinganswers seakinganswers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
Sounds like a lop sided relationship. 2 things popped into my head

1 - that sounds like a fair boundary, but if you relationship was built on respect and trust, you wouldn't need to define it.

Isn't that pretty much true of all boundaries?
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:40 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seakinganswers View Post
I think I see what y'all are saying. I think the two of us would have a hard time agreeing what a rule is and what a boundary is. I honestly don't think her intent is to use boundaries to manipulate. I think she genuinely is uncomfortable with anything outside her control because she has trust issues. So in her mind its just a boundary to make her comfortable. When in reality it's nothing more than her subconscious attempt to control everything around her.

I should mention she already broke the one boundary I set and looked at my text history, then when I caught her she starts trying to validate her decision by saying their were questionable texts from a girl that called me a nickname. Which of course must mean I am cheating on her with this girl. And she joked about missing me when I was on vacation because last time I came back from vacation everybody at work acted like they didn't even know I was gone.

She is not sure she wants to respect my boundary because it gives me carte Blanche to cheat on her without her finding out. I keep trying to tell her that if she thinks by her not checking my phone I will run out and cheat on her then we might as well end this thing now.
The fact that she can't seem to help checking your phone seems rather obsessive-compulsive. It makes me think of the classic hand-washing to keep the germs away ~ the phone checking to keep the outside women away. How long did she go before she broke your agreement?
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:51 AM
seakinganswers seakinganswers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
The fact that she can't seem to help checking your phone seems rather obsessive-compulsive. It makes me think of the classic hand-washing to keep the germs away ~ the phone checking to keep the outside women away. How long did she go before she broke your agreement?
I don't think she made it a week. lol
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:04 AM
Kernow Kernow is offline
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I think I can see this from your wife's point of view because I have been through a very similar situation. In our case the outcome has been good and things are much better than before, but we had a lot of ground to cover to get there.

I think you are wasting your time with therapy and the sort of boundary setting that you mention. You say that you love your wife (and I'm not doubting you on that) but your words and actions are not adding up as far as she is concerned. Think of it from her point of view, you cheated on her, you have announced that you need to be poly, you have told her that you want an open relationship, you have mentioned swinging and you have revealed bdsm needs/wants that she probably doesn't understand. She didn't 'sign up' for any of this and at best she probably thinks that you are having a mid life crisis!

From her point of view, none of this makes sense and until it does she is never going to trust you or be in a position to accepts your needs and wants. Looking back I realised that my husband tried to tell me two or three times, but I 'shut the conversation down' because it was scary/weird/perverted and a lot of other words of that sort. After that I just got half truths and lies which simply didn't add up and that made me even more suspicious and even more determined to work out what was going on. At that point setting a 'boundary' of not checking his phone or computer would have convinced me that he had something to hide. Suspicious partners are resourceful and you are not going to be able to hide much from her, she will find out by fair means or foul.

In our case once I had an idea what was going on I took some time to think it through. Then I wrote down exactly what I wanted to say to my husband (so that he could look at it again after we had spoken). I then chose my moment and I told him that I had a fair idea of what was going on. I told him that if he didn't think we had a future he was free to go with no hard feelings, but If he wanted to stay I was prepared to give him a 'clean slate' and what I wanted in return was absolute truth. If we were going to move forward all the skeletons had to come out of the cupboard. We agreed to go away together to give us time to talk things through. Some of it was very hard to hear but the truth was so much better than lies.

If your wife isn't poly by instinct she will probably have similar questions to the ones I had. Most of all I needed to know Why? Then there were issues such as why aren't I enough for you? what will people say? what about the kids? why all the lies? Surely that (bdsm) is against the law? I needed a lot of reassurance but the truth gave me the strength I needed to accept his poly lifestyle. We agreed that I had the right to other relationships too, but at that point I was clear that I didn't want any. If you can get your wife to accept your poly lifestyle don't try and push her towards poly too. That may or may not come later and if it does it will happen in her time and on her terms.

So rather than fencing each other in with rules and boundaries that are designed to control, be brave and have simple rules/boundaries about truth, honesty and respect for each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seakinganswers View Post
I feel like I keep doing the right things and the honorable things and getting in trouble at home for it. Kind of like I can't win. And I will not agree to any curfew. At most ill agree to text her if I'm going to come home past a certain time but even that has to be flexible because I'm not about to watch my clock and get an earful just because I didn't text her in time.

Am I being ridiculous?
I think you are just not seeing through her eyes. Remember that you are the one who cheated and you are the one who has changed the goal posts. It takes a very long time to regain trust in someone who has cheated. If you want to stay married you need to behave as if you are married and show her some respect. Arriving home at 4am unless it was pre planned or your lateness was very clearly explained by phone certainly isn't showing her respect. How do you think she felt? If my husband didn't get home until 4am I would be convinced that he'd been involved in an accident!

I really hope you can both work it out, but if you can't it may be kinder to both of you to go your separate ways. To give you a bit of hope, I was probably much like your wife (I also had a strict religious background). I was scared and confused by all the 'stuff' that my husband was into. Now (4+years later) I am very happy with our life as it is now, and I wouldn't want to change it.
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Old 03-27-2014, 03:16 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I'm sorry you struggle.

Quote:
I recognize myself as poly but am willing to be Mono for my wife who wants nothing to do with the lifestyle.
Quote:
Trust issues got much worse recently when I told her I'm a freak in the bedroom and oh by the way I want an open relationship.
So which is it that you want to be doing here? Monoshipping or polyshipping?

What is the goal of therapy? To be in a healthy, trusting monoship where you can express your poly thoughts and feelings to your wife without her having a cow about and leaping off to "surely there's cheating again!" extremes? Something else? What's your desired outcome in all this?

I am confused as to what you are seeking. So it's hard to advise.

As for this...

Quote:
I will not agree to any curfew. At most ill agree to text her if I'm going to come home past a certain time but even that has to be flexible because I'm not about to watch my clock and get an earful just because I didn't text her in time. Am I being ridiculous?
I find the word "curfew" odd -- who says that? You or her? Like you are some kid who will be grounded if you miss curfew? Neither of you are kids. You are not each other's parent. You are spouses.

I think it's reasonable and polite to tell my spouse I'm going out and will be home by X or if plans change I will call/text by X. It's not like he can "punish" me if I am late, but as his spouse I'm not out cause him undue stress/worry just because I can't be bothered to check in. I could stay out all night and he wouldn't mind. He just wants to know what time to expect me home so he can go to sleep free of worry. All I have to do is state what time and then... be there at that time. Most of the time I'm on time or if I run a bit late he has a text explaining I am running late because of traffic or whatever and it will be more like Y. Not a biggie to either of us. He can relax because I am consistent and considerate. I can go have fun when I want. So can he.

Is your hesitance to do that behavior (ex: let her know when to expect you home and you stick to what time you said) because you fear her giving you an earful if you miss it? You don't like being accountable? Something else?

What is "earful" mean to you? Does she have a tantrum? Yell? Break things? What?
  • Just don't miss it and you don't get earful. Your behavior is in your control.
  • Or if you DO miss it, apologize. And ask her to express her disappointment in a way that is acceptable to you and not "earful way" if you dislike that (esp if she's in the habit of pitching a fit, yelling or throwing things, etc. )
  • If you don't like being accountable to someone else -- why be cohabitating marrieds? Be a footloose single and answer to nobody but you.

You say she has trust issues. How do you contribute to creating a trusting environment if you don't want to do things like say when you will be home? Do you do other things that help build trust in your Word? Her peeking at your stuff when she promised not to is not her helping to build trust in her Word. But what about your side?

I note that you both "explain it away" rather than "own it."

Quote:
she is almost convinced I am sleeping with this girl at work, just because we occasionally text outside of work and sometimes have some "inappropriate" humor. Even though I have 3 other guys at work I do the same with.
She can't just be mad you are engaging in "inappropriate humor" with ANYONE? Because it isn't appropriate?

Quote:
she already broke the one boundary I set and looked at my text history, then when I caught her she starts trying to validate her decision by saying their were questionable texts from a girl that called me a nickname.
You can't just be mad she broke her promise? Because she broke her promise?

When you explain away behavior that upset someone, that is not apologizing -- it goes off into "blame game" weirdness rather than "solve the problem."

I also think that "not owning it" adds to conflict between you. You don't have to get WHY it bugs someone. You just have to accept it DOES bug them, and apologize and do something different next time. Learning to "own it and not explain it away" would apply to both of you if you both are in the habit of that. Maybe that's something to talk to the counselor about since you are covering boundaries.

Figure out the boundaries surrounding
  • my stuff, my responsibility
  • her stuff, her responsibility
  • our stuff, SHARED responsibility

So that both of you can be healthy together in whatever shape.

HTH!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 03-27-2014 at 02:50 PM.
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