I’m excited about the great response we had to the live streaming event, Can Abusers Change, that Chris Moles and I did last week. If you didn’t get a chance to watch, click here.
I’m going to do some more live streaming in the future on various topics and would love to hear about some of the areas you’d like me to cover. Chris and I also did a few videos while he was here and each week we’ll be posting a new one to my (and his) website for you to watch. Would love to get your feedback.
Today’s Question: Am I asking too much by setting a boundary requiring my husband to refrain from texting other women on a personal basis and do I have the right to check his phone periodically?
Considering we have been married 30 years, he has had 2 sexual affairs and too numerous to count flirting/emotional affairs. Obviously he is not taking my boundary serious. When I found he was still texting other women he got very angry and feels I am wrong to look at his phone. I required him to go to “Every Man's Battle” a Christian sexual integrity workshop and to start seeing a counselor.
He has done what I required but I'm sad to say I'm not seeing the true results of a repentant heart. I have yet to see him step out on his own for recovery. He also struggles with a drinking problem. He says he is a Christian but shows no signs of growing or seeking God. I am very tired and weary from living in this marriage.
I hate to end a 30 year marriage but I can't live in the pain I'm experiencing either. I think of the statement. There are times that one's motivation to change only happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making the change. Thank you SO much for your books and ministry they have been so much help, strength and comfort to me.
Answer: You used the word “require” several times and that troubles me. When you require someone to do something that puts you in the position of a parent or a boss, which is not an appropriate role for a spouse.
I get it. Out of your fear and your pain you want to make sure your husband doesn’t repeat his sinful behavior and so you’re trying to control him by requiring him to do what you think he should do to get healthy and stay sexually faithful.
But how’s it working for you? You said you are not seeing the results you want. His heart is angry, he’s resisting you checking his phone and although he has conformed to your “requirements”, you clearly see he does not want to be accountable to you for his behaviors with other women.
Therefore, where does that leave you if he doesn’t want to take any ownership for his problem or his recovery?
Let me repeat something I’ve said many times. Boundaries cannot be set on another person. For example, you cannot put a fence around your neighbor’s yard even when their dog keeps pooping in your yard. But you can put a fence around your own yard to keep their dog out.
In your requirements, you’ve tried to fence your husband in so he doesn’t cheat on you again. On the surface it looks like he’s complying with your requirements but you feel anxious because you see he has no heart to stay in his own yard.
Here is my suggestion. Take the fence off and tell him this: “You are now free. I am not requiring you to go to treatment, give me your cell phone, stop drinking, or not talk with other women. You are free to do what you want and be the man you want to be. However, your choices will and do affect me and our family and I will not continue to stay in a marriage with someone who cheats on me, flirts with other women and disrespects his marital promises. You decide but understand that although I will not be your policeman, if you choose not to put a fence around your own weaknesses to protect our marriage, I will not be able to trust you and if you cheat again I will divorce you.”
Now you have stopped trying to give him boundaries and instead set your own boundaries. And, you’ve informed him of the consequences if he chooses not to have appropriate boundaries in place to protect your marriage. Time will tell but you cannot MAKE someone be faithful, loving, or honest and policing him only makes him mad and you feel crazy. Stop doing it.
Friends, how have you lived in this in-between place where you have “let go” of trying to fix or control your spouse and the not knowing where they are going to land?
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