Over the years, I’ve heard so many stories of betrayed partners who were told that the way for them to create boundaries was to sit down and make a list of boundaries to present to their unfaithful spouse.
Believing that this was the way to create boundaries, she (or he) did what she was told, only to later be faced with what seemed like boundary violations or unfulfilled expectations.
A person on the receiving end of a boundaries list that requires the receiver to act — or stop acting — in a certain way, is not required to comply with the list. And this is one of the reasons why it can temporarily feel more empowering to tell your unfaithful spouse what he will (or won’t) do, than to make a request and risk receiving no for an answer.
You can create boundaries around your own actions — what you will or won’t do — but you can’t create boundaries around another person’s actions.
The only way to create a boundary with another person is with an agreement.
And in most cases, you will need to make a request in order to create an agreement. Telling another person what they will or won’t do doesn’t create a boundary, and it’s simply not a relational way to get your wants and needs met in relationships.
When is the last time you made a request of your unfaithful spouse? Betrayed partners often don’t know what kinds of requests to make, or they hesitate to make the requests they want to make.
Asking for what you want can be equal parts terrifying, clarifying, and empowering. Requests are the quickest and most efficient way to either get what you need and want, or to find out whether or not your spouse is willing to show up and engage in the trust-building and relationship-restoring actions necessary to heal chronic betrayal.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2019)
Thriving After Betrayal blog articles are protected by U.S. copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, distributed, or re-published without written permission of the author.
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