Boundaries or control? Advice?

I have been married for 20 years to my husband who is addicted to porn and strip clubs and he has periodic episodes of binge drinking and driving drunk.He does not drink daily but tends to over drink when out with friends. He also disclosed to me in 2002 a one night stand and in 2011 an affair. We have been off and on in individual and couples therapy and in 2012 attended couples group and individual groups but he stopped all forms of therapy by 2013. He has had small stretches of sobriety then long relapses which he does not disclose until I find proof. 8 months ago I discovered more SA behaviors and told him I needed us to both get back into individual therapy as well as SA and Sanon groups with sponsors. I told him my boundaries to help me feel safe and for us to heal are the following: Both attend therapy with a CSAT. Both attend at least one weekly 12 step meeting and have a sponsor. Both do weekly reading/homework as recommended by our CSAT and I asked him to abstain from going out to bars at night and to limit his alcohol to 2 drinks if he is out for a work function ( his office has social activities where free drinks are offered about once a month for team building). I told him I don't mind him going out golfing or bowling etc. But that I prefer he limit the drinking while doing so. He tells me that my boundaries feel like I'm controlling him, that I'm telling him how to recover. He said 12 steps meetings are not his thing and he refuses to attend. He is going to counseling with a CSAT once every 2 weeks and he is reading a recovery book a couple times a week. He does his homework from his counselor about once every 2 weeks for 20 minutes or so. He meets with a sponsor from his old group back in 2012 once every 3 weeks to have breakfast and check in. Last week he had a social work activity where he promised me he would only have 2 drinks. He came home slurring/stumbling drunk having driven home. I told him that because he broke our agreement on limiting drinking while out, that my boundary changed. That I no longer feel safe with him drinking any alcohol while out and I requested completely abstaining from drinking while out. He told me "I like to have a beer or two when out and I know I can control it." and refused to abstain. ( he does control his drinking while out sometimes). I decided and respectfully told him that I do not feel safe because he is refusing to meet my boundaries. I told him I do not see the true recovery behaviors I need to see in order to rebuild trust. Because I do not feel safe without my boundaries being met, I told him " I have asked for what I need, you have chosen not to and that is your right, however, I do not feel safe and it is difficult for me to sleep next to you when I don't see you doing the recovery work. You have told me that you need to do recovery at your own pace and that you can't just do things to appease me, that you have to choose to do them on your own and you are not ready to. You are right, These things should come from you, you have to decide on them, all I can do is ask for what I need to feel safe. I have asked, you have refused, so now I need to protect my heart. I think we should have a therapeutic seperation so I can continue my own recovery without feeling uncomfortable around you and you can work on your own recovery." He responded by getting angry and telling me I am giving him an ultimatum and trying to control his recovery. I need advice. Am I being controlling? I feel I am simply asking for what I need to build trust and protecting my heart by separating because I do not feel safe without the recovery behaviors. He has stopped going out at night, he is attending therapy with a CSAT and he claims to have been sober from all SA behaviors for the last 8 months. I fear he is just white knuckling sobriety without regular recovery work though and fear another relapse is inevitable without the recovery work being done. Any advice is appreciated. Please be kind as I am very delicate right now. Thank you
  • 6 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • @Issues96 You are exerting control over your life, so by definition you are being controlling...AND THAT'S A GOOD THING!
    He seems to have a lot of the attitude I had 7 or 8 years ago until an experience with the law was the final thing that straightened me out. My wife, kids, parents...none of them were going to stop me from drinking (and it's always 2 drinks, isn't it?) and my pornography addiction. It was the law that took me down.
    Let's assume the law isn't going to take him down. The bottom line is that you gave him your list of boundaries and he isn't meeting it. Now it's your time to step up and enforce those boundaries. If you don't, they meant nothing, and will mean even less moving forward.
    He's not doing the work. People who aren't willing to do the work don't really want to change. If he doesn't like the fact that you have a set of rules that you need him to follow, he can leave. He has caused damage and you have explained what is necessary to repair it. He isn't interested in what you need. He will do as much or as little as he wants and that's the end of it.
    Let him bitch and moan. You won't have to hear it once you're out the front door. You sound like a peacemaker and someone who avoids conflict, but this is going to be a stressful situation. You need him to see you're serious and then it's either up to him to get the help you've requested or not. Either way, you'll be better off.
  • Thank you so much JoshuaShea. It is very helpful to hear another persons perspective especially one who has gotten through similar struggles. You are right on by the way. I hate conflict and am a peacemaker but I am learning to be stronger. I will hold to my boundaries. He will make his choice. Thanks again!
  • Had a respectful conversation with husband last night. I changed my wording to him. I added that I need the boundaries so that I not only feel safe but also said " I need these things to repair the damage in our relationship. If the damage is not repaired and trust is not built, I will not stay in this marriage." He got very angry and started swearing at me telling me he has no time to go to one meeting a week. I stayed calm and respectful and repeated That I love him and want to repair our marriage but without the recovery behaviors I can not stay. He got angrier, swore more and began hitting himself in the head saying " its just too much!" I walked away, told him again that I love him
    and I hope he can find peace and healing. I am going to request an appointment with both our counselors to initiate a therapeutic seperation. Its interesting to me that he always found the time for strip clubs, porn and going out drinking but he tells me he has no time for recovery. Seems to me if it was important to him, he could take a fraction of the time he spent acting out and dedicate it to recovery. Hope you all stay strong and have a good day today. Hugs to all.
  • @Issues96 hey there. joshua has given great insight and advice thus far.... i am proud of you for setting and now keeping your boundaries.... it does sound like he is not willing to own up to his "stuff" and work on himself.

    love how joshua said let him bitch and moan... you won't hear it when you walk out the front door. omg...this is wonderful....

    YOU deserve to have what you want and need in a relationship... so stay strong... continue to do your work...and hold him accountable.

    and know we are here!!
  • @Issues96 You've taken control and that's not something that he's familiar with. It's strange how when someone is taken out of their perceived power center how they react. Some, as you've seen, don't know what to do other than lash out and hit themselves, as if they were four years old. Unfortunately, much like with me at the time, there may be certain life skills, survival instincts and coping methods that haven't evolved since he was four years old. He has to want to learn what those are change them for himself. You can't make him change anything, but you don't have to be part of the slow car crash.
    Be a little leery of either therapist trying to keep you together at the moment. Stick to your guns that your husband is ignoring and disrespecting your boundaries and you will not be staying. Also, don't drag out the separation. "Initiating a therapeutic separation" sounds like slowly peeling off a Band Aid and it's not fair to you or your husband. You're going to hurt him no matter what happens here. He knows this and has used it against you for your entire marriage. Sometimes you just need to yank the Band Aid off quickly because it hurts less in the long run.
    Good luck, let us know what happens.
  • Thank you both for the supportive input. My goal of therapeutic seperation is to give both my husband and I some space to figure out what we both want and need and to work on our own recoveries without arguing. It is my hope that this space will bring us both clarity. Right now we are both so frustrated it seems all we do by talking is make things worse. Hoping we can both find our own individual healing then come back together and heal our marriage. Wishing you both a peaceful weekend.
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