Being married to a sex addict can be very difficult at times. To help me feel safe in my marriage I chose to create a boundary agreement specific to our situation. I'm posting my second version here (mine continues to evolve) to help others who are in a similar situation and remind them they aren't alone. There are lots of us out there. I hope this helps someone draft one of their own if they think they need it. Please take what you want and leave the rest.
Be well and shoot me an email if you have any questions.
Be well and shoot me an email if you have any questions.
I hope you understand this is not an effort to control you. It’s a way for me to maintain trust in you so we can keep a healthy relationship. It will also help me not to shut down when I feel like my emotional boundaries are crossed.
So, here it is, in a much healthier format than before (at least to me ;p)
Your progress in your recovery has made the relationships in our house thrive, especially with the kids. Your hard work shows by how you interact with all of us, even when you feel hurt or angry. You’ve learned to explain your feelings and not isolate. I’m so proud of you.
It would help assure me that you’re in a healthy recovery if you shared with me what inspired you, or touched you, during your meetings. Telling me what you felt and learned, versus if the meeting was crowded or uncomfortable, lets me know you’re still active in your recovery and mentally present in your meetings. I know I’m smart, but I still can’t read minds. Not yet, anyway.
If I don’t see any change, or that change happens and then slips backwards again, I’m going to have to end our relationship. I feel I’ve been patient, and I can’t stay if things stay the same. Work your recovery like our marriage depends on it, because it does.
Please be honest with me. I feel being lied to is worse than what the actual truth may be. Whether it’s being deceived about a slip or a simple omission about an everyday event, not being told the truth the first time around or having to dig for information hurts. It causes me to lose trust and not want to be affectionate. Then that causes you to withdraw and before we know it, we’re stuck in an unhealthy cycle. Neither of us wants that. I know we can make our marriage work if we keep working on it.
The damage from the past makes any lie, big or small, equal to the same thing for me and causes me to go back to that hurtful place from years ago. As the sayings go, “It’s better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie” and “The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.” Lies just suck and they destroy my trust and faith in you.
I ask for honesty during our first conversation about whatever it may be. If I don’t get the truth, or if I have to pry it out of you before you tell me what’s going on, I will enforce a consequence.
If you aren’t transparent or keep secrets from me, I want you to sleep in the other room for two nights. If lying or omitting the truth becomes frequent, I’ll have to end our relationship. I can’t handle being continually lied to. It makes me feel like I’m not worth anything to you. And I know that’s not true. I know you love me and want our marriage to flourish just like I do.
Slips and relapses:
I need you to understand I am a safe person to come to if you slip. Whether it’s porn, masturbation, or anything else in your inner circle, I’m at a place in my recovery where I can handle it and won’t judge you for it. I promise not to scream, cry, or attack you. Those days have long since passed and I know you deserve better.
I understand there are potentials for slips, but I expect full transparency and to be told when they happen. I ask that you tell me either the day it happens, or the day after. If you forget, then the consequence will be sleeping in the other room for three nights and only basic affection (kiss goodbye, etc).
While this may seem extreme, to me it’s an extension of lying and deceit. When a slip happens and you don’t tell me, it causes me undue anxiety that causes me to trigger and become hypervigilant, and that’s an unhealthy place for me. It also makes me feel like you’re not in a good place in your recovery, and I deserve to know that.
If you tell me right away, there won’t be any consequences. I understand slips may occur. I just want honesty about them. We’re a team. The more honest we are with each other, the more emotionally connected we’ll continue to be.
I also ask that you figure out why you slipped. As our counselor said, slips don’t just happen. There are reasons behind them whether it’s stress, boredom, or anger; it’s up to you to figure it out, so you can prevent them. If your slips become a relapse, then I will have to leave. We are at a point in our recoveries where relapses shouldn’t happen. Especially with me not knowing what’s going on. The more we work together, the happier we’ll each be in our relationship.
Emotional and/or Physical affairs:
It goes without saying (and yet I’m saying it anyway just to be clear), I will file for divorce the moment I find out you’ve had another affair or inappropriate contact with someone.
I want us to succeed in our marriage. I want to be more than just cohabitants; I want us to be best friends, lovers, and supporters of one another. I know we can continue to do it, it just takes continued work on both our parts.
Never forget how much I love you and how important you and our marriage is to me. You’re a good man, a wonderful father, and you’re more than your addiction to me.
There’s a bit more to it, but that covers the big stuff. Feel free to use it as a guide for your own boundary agreement. Remember, you’re not punishing the addict for their addiction. You’re safeguarding yourself from it. For us, we've gotten to a place in our recoveries that this BA isn't really necessary. Now we sit and talk things over because it's been so long since he's had a slip. However, when slips were happening two, three times a year, I felt I needed to have this for my emotional well-being. Remember, everyone is different. The important thing is that you're feeling emotionally safe and secure. What works for me may not work for you, this can be used to help get you started.
For tools and tips on how I navigated my way through Relational Trauma I wrote a book, Steps Along My Shore, My Personal Tale & Tips When Discovering You're Married to a Sex Addict. Or if you have any questions, feel free to email me. Remember, you're not alone and there is hope.