Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for recovery. Keeping your boundaries helps prevent relapses.   

You must "own" your boundaries. At first, you might create a boundary at the request of your wife, a therapist, or after getting someone's advice. But in the end, a boundary must be your own. You must believe that the boundary exists to protect you. You must keep your boundaries not because someone else is forcing you to keep them, but because YOU want to keep your boundaries to prevent yourself from slipping into addictive behavior.

A boundary needs to be a firm line that you do not cross. Your boundaries sometimes might seem strange or annoying to others, even to relatives. Some might try to talk you out of keeping certain boundaries because they aren't convenient or "normal". But you know the reasons for your boundaries and why they are needed.

 

For example, perhaps you realize that surfing the internet after 10 pm on your phone is a common time when your thoughts stray, your resolve weakens, and you end up indulging in pornography. Your new boundaries could be: no using the internet after 10 pm, and no using my phone in my bedroom after 10 pm. 

Triggers are plentiful when it comes to media, therefore it is wise to have straightforward and firm boundaries regarding media. It is hard to stay in recovery and stop relapsing without being very careful and strict with TV, movies, internet, and social media. 

Here are some examples of my personal rules and boundaries:

1. I will be 100% honest with my wife. 

2. I will not flirt or seek connection with other women.

3. I do not watch YouTube, unless on rare exceptions when it is required for work purposes.

4. I never take my phone into any bathroom.

5. When traveling, I call my wife as soon as I arrive at the hotel, as well as right before going to bed and share daily accountability with her. 

6. I avoid TV and movies, except on rare occasions. 

7. I do not hug members of the opposite sex (except my wife, daughter, sisters, my mother-in-law, and mother).

8. I will not manipulate or gaslight my wife. 

9. I do not go to places where triggers are strong and prevalent, such as swimming pools and gyms.

10. I do not use social media apps. 

I build on my list of boundaries as the need arises. Whenever I find something that is a trigger, I create a new boundary to help me stay safe from that trigger.  At first, it bothered me that I needed multiple boundaries. But now I am grateful for all of them. I own them. They help me stay safe and clean. They help me to trust myself, and they create trust in my marriage relationship.

 

If you relapse, or have unclean thoughts that cause a desire to relapse, find the trigger! Be honest with yourself and recognize what it was that planted the seed for the bad thoughts and/or relapse. Perhaps it was a video game, a book you read, or a television commercial you saw. Maybe it was socializing/flirting with a co-worker, picking up a magazine in a waiting room, or the movie you watched over the weekend. Once you realize what the trigger is, write a new boundary FOR YOURSELF. Then commit to keeping your boundary!