View Full Version : Enforcing Boundaries?


Mittens
09-20-17, 11:05 AM
Hi there,

It's been a wee while. Hubby and I just started seeing a couples counselor who (so far) seems to gel with both of us, and she seems to be a good fit for us.

I was hoping for ideas / views / examples in terms of effective ways people have to enforce boundaries in respectful and non-combative ways?

Due to my own self esteem / confidence issues I have made the mistake of allowing my boundaries to be swept under the rug, and i would like to get back to a place of communicating reasonable boundaries in a respectful way.

Thank you,
Mittens

aeon
09-20-17, 11:35 AM
Take ownership and responsibility for what you feel, but do not do so for the feelings of others, either of your own choice, or by the coercion of others.

No one can make you feel any given way, nor can you make anyone feel any given way.

Never tell someone how they feel, or what their intent was, and in turn, allow no one to tell you how you feel or what your intent was.

Be explicit about what is, and what is not, acceptable to you. Do not think those things are implicit in nature. Listen to others in this regard, and respect what they say.

Ask for what you need, and for what you want, but do not expect those things, or be coercive about getting them, whether actively or passively.

In like kind, receive others when they ask, and remember you always have the right to say no. If other people expect things of you without communicating them, give them feedback to let them know communication requires the engagement of at least 2 people...both the listener and the speaker. If someone tries to coerce you, whether passively or actively, quickly and calmly let them know that their behavior is unacceptable to you.

Of course there are many other things to consider, regarding things like possessions, respect for privacy, need for sleep, and so on, but I hope what I have said is a beginning of basic respect for self and others.


Cheers,
Ian

MasterPain
09-20-17, 12:52 PM
Oh boy do I have some stories that relate to your issue. Oddly your position sounds like what my wife was probably thinking at the time. The short explanation without getting too personal is things got out of control and I enjoyed the ride. We separated for about 6 months although we still had sex. We went to a couples counselor twice and it only made things worse. We argued, said unforgivable things, slept with other people but kept finding ourselves thinking about each other. We both finally agreed if we are going to actually be husband and wife we need to stop the bs. No more controlling each other, no more belittling the other person, no more half truths...lets just be two flawed people trying to make it in this world. We still disagree, we don't see eye to eye on somethings but we listen and make it work because we know we're meant for each other.

Sorry if that was a long read but I wanted to give some back story. My advice is to make exceptions where you can and stand strong where you can't. Write down what makes you happy, what do you want out of life, what can you be flexible with and when should you stand your ground. When standing up for what you believe: be combative, be strong, act confident and the rest will fall into place. You can't worrying about being respectful when someone isn't respecting your boundaries.

ScatterBrainX
09-21-17, 01:36 AM
I struggled with this a lot myself.
I am the ADHD partner, but I imagine it's even harder to enforce them with someone that has ADHD, or keeps forgetting.

It depends on the specific issue, and who it's directed towards.

If it's a partner, presumably she loves you and doesn't want to hurt you.
Think of it this way: you're doing her a favor by telling her how she can best show her love to you and minimize that hurt.
It's not a you vs her, but you and her vs the problem.

When not in the heat of the moment, start the conversation with "My dear, we need to talk about something. I feel X when you do Y. Is there some alternative we can brainstorm together to avoid Y?".

Then see what you can do together.
You may need to contribute to the solution too, in terms of reminders, changing something so she doesn't have to do Y at all, etc.
See what you're ok with doing (or at least much more ok than Y happening).

If it doesn't work, bring it up again. Come up with a better solution.
Don't let her just apologize and promise to "try harder", because she may not be able to.
"We need to try smarter, not harder, and I want to help".

sarahsweets
09-22-17, 05:09 AM
Decide which boundaries for you are non-negotiable and dont allow them to be crossed. We teach others how to treat us and if we allow even 1 boundary crossed the the person will think there are no boundaries,

ToneTone
09-22-17, 11:04 PM
Some great tips so far.

I'll add one ... There's another way to set boundaries ... and it's not very confrontational ... but this action did increase my awareness of boundaries and my ability to set them.

Speak your opinion and your values-- on movies, clothes, tv shows, sports, current events, whatever ... Practice speaking your opinion (not confrontational at all) and what you're doing is you are sort of outlining a boundary ... This is who I am, how I feel. I'm not saying you have to agree with me, but expressing my views makes clear who I am. I'm not currently partnered, but the interesting thing for me is that setting boundaries ... allows me to show off sides of myself that the other person really likes.

Let's say you express your views on music. Let's say you don't like some of your partner's favorite music (sub for "music" as relevant). If we express our view in anger, we've just fueled more conflict. The attitude I want is something like this: you can have your music preference and that's great ... and I can have my music preferences and that's great ... and we will find ways so that both of us feel that we get a chance to listen to the music we like.

One other thing that has helped me is to pay attention to my body ... When I'm compromising a boundary, I feel bad ... but it's worse than that ... my whole being/body feels bad/tired/frustrated/numb. I learned that the times when I would go numb were the times I needed to speak up for myself.

Feeling angry was often a sign that I had compromised a boundary multiple times until my resentment built up and boiled over. So I use anger as I sign that I need to speak up more for myself or say no or ask for help or whatever DURING whatever the experience is.

In an ideal world, our partners would respond respectfully and enthusiastically as we began to set clear boundaries ... But sometimes that's not the case ... and indeed I noticed that when I set poor boundaries, I attracted a partner who later resented every minor step I took toward being real.

Just keep in mind: we don't owe other people an explanation of things. If I say I don't wanna do x, that's enough. If my partner asks why, then I may explain some to them. But you don't anchor a boundary on logic and argument. I don't wanna go because I don't wanna go. Period. Takes a little time to get comfortable with feeling that in ourselves.

I'd love to hear more about where/when you think you get stuck in setting boundaries.

Tone

sarahsweets
09-24-17, 09:06 AM
BTW "enforcing boundaries" can sound sinister, Look at it more as protecting boundaries and yourself.

ScatterBrainX
09-25-17, 01:52 AM
Some great tips so far.

I'll add one ... There's another way to set boundaries ... and it's not very confrontational ... but this action did increase my awareness of boundaries and my ability to set them.

Speak your opinion and your values-- on movies, clothes, tv shows, sports, current events, whatever ... Practice speaking your opinion (not confrontational at all) and what you're doing is you are sort of outlining a boundary ... This is who I am, how I feel. I'm not saying you have to agree with me, but expressing my views makes clear who I am. I'm not currently partnered, but the interesting thing for me is that setting boundaries ... allows me to show off sides of myself that the other person really likes.

Let's say you express your views on music. Let's say you don't like some of your partner's favorite music (sub for "music" as relevant). If we express our view in anger, we've just fueled more conflict. The attitude I want is something like this: you can have your music preference and that's great ... and I can have my music preferences and that's great ... and we will find ways so that both of us feel that we get a chance to listen to the music we like.

One other thing that has helped me is to pay attention to my body ... When I'm compromising a boundary, I feel bad ... but it's worse than that ... my whole being/body feels bad/tired/frustrated/numb. I learned that the times when I would go numb were the times I needed to speak up for myself.

Feeling angry was often a sign that I had compromised a boundary multiple times until my resentment built up and boiled over. So I use anger as I sign that I need to speak up more for myself or say no or ask for help or whatever DURING whatever the experience is.

In an ideal world, our partners would respond respectfully and enthusiastically as we began to set clear boundaries ... But sometimes that's not the case ... and indeed I noticed that when I set poor boundaries, I attracted a partner who later resented every minor step I took toward being real.

Just keep in mind: we don't owe other people an explanation of things. If I say I don't wanna do x, that's enough. If my partner asks why, then I may explain some to them. But you don't anchor a boundary on logic and argument. I don't wanna go because I don't wanna go. Period. Takes a little time to get comfortable with feeling that in ourselves.

I'd love to hear more about where/when you think you get stuck in setting boundaries.

Tone

Wow, that is a great tip! I never thought of expressing preferences as being related to boundaries.

I realize music in particular is something I struggled with a lot in the past. I am getting better at it, but still feel a bit uneasy with it.

Example: I normally listen to some pretty serious metal. But the first band I ever heard that was metal-ish is Linkin Park, which I still enjoy listening to.

However, they are considered to be rather "bad" in the metal community. While I agree it's not the most metal band out there, they do have some good songs.

For years, I avoided listening to them, because they are not "true metal" and I was ashamed to do so. I've only recently started doing so again, and admitting it.

aeon
09-25-17, 02:28 AM
When it comes to music, I like what I like and that's the end of it. Similarly, other people are going to like what they like, and that's ok. To me, musical taste is subjective and beyond judgment. The idea I would change what I would listen to based on someone else's opinion is unthinkable. I'm far too selfish for that.


Cheers,
Ian

Mittens
09-28-17, 02:49 AM
I'm so sorry for taking so long to respond after so many amazing responses- I saved this to refer back too because there is some really phenomenal advice.

We were starting to talk about boundaries in counseling, but it ended up being more about language because Tester really didn't like the term "boundaries", and we ended up finding a few different 'typical' terms that really didn't sit well with him. Slightly off topic, but a big eye opener for me was not realizing how important specific language was to him, and how different things went (in a positive way) by changing things like boundaries = Rules of Engagement, or compromise = Win-win, and that sort of thing. Is this common with ADD, or more just an individual person preference?

Sorry for the side line.

I really appreciate the specific, tangible advice, and i love so many options. It never ceases to amaze me how much invaluable knowledge and understanding I have gotten from this forum and all the contributors.

As a personal note, I really appreciate Tone's suggestion of starting small of getting back confidence and sort of "practicing". I don't think I ever would have had the insight to think of it in that respect, and that's really cool.

Tester is really trying / working so hard with me to better our communication skills with each other, and I just so badly want to make sure I am standing my ground on non-negotiable's, but in an understanding and respectful way... he feels so much guilt, and it seems like each way I try it still makes him feel bad, which is what I want to avoid more than anything. Partners should build each other up, not tear them down, and I want to be doing everything I can to reinforce that ... like you guys have brought up, it should be us working together on the same team, not me vs him.

I apologise if this is sort of all over the place, I'm responding on my phone and it's kind of awkward. I'll be able to respond more specifically tomorrow on my laptop.

Thank you so much for the responses and for the honesty - you guys are freaking awesome.

-Mittens

stef
09-28-17, 03:34 AM
Slightly off topic, but a big eye opener for me was not realizing how important specific language was to him, and how different things went (in a positive way) by changing things like boundaries = Rules of Engagement, or compromise = Win-win, and that sort of thing. Is this common with ADD, or more just an individual person preference?



Absolutely it could be; especially if some term that comes up, like "boundries" was used repeatedly and in a negative way, in the past (like by a teacher).

It goes double if you have affinities for language and vocabulary in general (this is my case, anyway).

Mittens
09-28-17, 04:49 AM
Absolutely it could be; especially if some term that comes up, like "boundries" was used repeatedly and in a negative way, in the past (like by a teacher).

It goes double if you have affinities for language and vocabulary in general (this is my case, anyway).

Yes! Especially in his element of his business he is incredibly articulate and well spoken.

I feel like a putz for being married for how long and just figuring out now what an impact specific language has - he said he isn't even sure why, but something about the word boundaries has a super negative effect for him (anger / anxiety / negative association), and he doesn't know, just that he does. Some of the other words is historically based and that sort of thing.

It's just still kind of blowing my mind with this epiphany, and especially with what you said and how he totally does fit being linguistically inclined.