Boundaries 2: What’s Working

According to the 2014/2015 Survey of Wives of Sex Addicts, 91% of the nearly 700 respondents have established protective boundaries with their husband at some point.

I’m thrilled about this. If you’re wondering why I value boundaries, see the previous post on this topic. To summarise, boundaries are essential in defining who we are and what we stand for. They are necessary for our healing and an important part of his healing too… whether or not the sex addict in our life is looking for healing.

Below are the most common boundaries that wives set in their relationship: and the percentage of respondents who set it. Wives set boundaries around:

  • Acting out: 66%
  • Attending counselling: 63%
  • The couple’s sex life (eg who will initiate): 59%
  • Media usage: 56%
  • Technology filtering: 56%
  • Travel 52%
  • Finances: 51%
  • Accountability: 50%
  • Time with children 33%

In the text-based ‘other boundaries’ category numerous women cited creating a boundary around contacting former affair partners. Others also mentioned limitation on time spent alone with women (or ‘men’ in the case of same-sex addiction) outside of family members. Cessation of lying also came up as a common boundary as did cessation of abusive behaviours (verbal, physical, etc).

Beyond this, many of the boundaries were around the addict living a more transparent life in general. Any man who has issues with this should read Jason Martinkus’ Worthy of Her Trust (or join Pastor Steve Farnworth’s group study of this book in March. See the Freedom Unit website for more on this.)

Fortunately, more and more sex addicts are catching on to the fact that transparency is what is needed to restore their marriage relationship after betrayal. Thus, many of them are offering (before their wives ask) to have boundaries put in place that promotes this. The boundaries wives reported their husbands offering to put in place included:

  • Technology filtering: 22%
  • Accountability partner: 19%
  • Attending counselling: 18%
  • Media viewing: 16%
  • Travel: 11%
  • Finances: 8%
  • Acting out: 6%
  • (The couple’s) sex: 5%
  • Time with children: 4%

In the category of 'other boundaries' he offered were

  • Avoiding places where he had acted out (eg, bars)
  • Attending support group
  • Giving up other addictions or abusive behaviours (eg alcohol, cigarettes, yelling)
  • Adopting spiritual disciplines (eg prayer, bible reading, attending bible study)
  • Reporting breaking of boundaries or sexual betrayal immediately.

Thus, it’s clear that many couples are finding that boundaries are key to their healing as individuals and as a couple. Please let me know if there are other boundaries not listed here that have aided your healing journey – or your spouses.

Next post: Consequences: Boundaries Don’t Work Without Them.