*Before we even get started on this cautionary tale from my marriage let me just say this: I realize being in a relationship with a relationship blogger is risky territory. So, I’m going on record as saying I’m responsible for the things that weren’t working in my marriage. My husband is a saint, and his ex-wife is a lovely human.
A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them, my husband and I almost never fight. Really. It’s such a rare occurrence I can’t remember the last time it happened. We have a lot of safeguards in place that prevent us from going to far off the trail of marital bliss. However, it hasn’t always been that way. In our first year together we never fought about anything, except when we were fighting about his ex-wife.
My beloved and his ex-wife had the kind of divorce most people don’t think is possible. They parted friends. In fact, they were quite friendly. Not is a creepy way. Nothing was going on that gave me a reason to think anything suspicious was happening. They were friends when they were married, and they remained friends. It was that simple.
When we first got together, I thought it was awesome. In fact, one of the things I found most enduring about him was the way he talked about her with so much respect.
However, as the weeks and months passed, that friendliness started bugging the sh!t out of me. We frequently traveled his for work, and because she was in the same field, we shared more than one vacation with her. She ended up going to work for him, spending more time every day with him than I got. I tried to be cool about it all. We included her and her family in our family events. However, she’d show up when I wasn’t expecting her.
My irritation often swung in the direction of anger, and we fought about it. We had the kind of fights where I threatened to bail from a moving car on the freeway. We had the kind of fights where we were icy to each other for days. It wasn’t constant, but it was frequent. One day I wanted to be more understanding and felt guilty for being a bitch. The next day I was at my wit's end. Every day was unpredictable. He never knew for sure where I was going to land, and honestly, neither did I.
We fought right up until it stopped.
Why did it stop? I set a hard, fixed, immovable boundary. I didn’t want to be the second Mrs. Howell. I wanted to be the only Mrs Howell. In a moment, my husband knew where I stood. He knew without question what would work and what wouldn’t.
In the years that have passed, we have had one pretty heated discussion on that subject. However, I wouldn’t say it rose to the level of an actual fight.
The fighting wasn’t his fault. The fighting wasn’t her fault. It was mine. I hadn’t set a boundary. When I did, it ended.
Paige is married to Edison. Edison drinks too much. He always has. However, before they got serious it wasn’t that much of a problem for her. After they got married and had kids, everything was serious.
Paige and Edison fought a lot about his drinking, almost every day. Paige understood it was hard for him to manage. His father was also an alcoholic. He’d grown up thinking that kind of drinking was the norm. She tried to be understanding, but it would often boil up on her.
They were fighting more and more and sometimes in front of the kids.
Edison played the game. He knew she wanted to be supportive. In his defense at times when he was stressed Paige would even suggest he have a beer. Both of them knew it was co-dependent. Both of them knew the conflict was escalating.
Then one night Paige said it. “If you don’t stop drinking AND go to AA, I will take the kids and leave you. I will move in with my sister until I find a place. I will not come back.”
The next day Edison found a meeting. He hasn’t had a drink since. It wasn’t Paige’s fault Edison drank, but it was her fault they were fighting about it. She’d never made a hard, fixed, immovable boundary. Once she did, it stopped. At that moment, Edison knew where he stood. He had a choice, and Edison made it.
Anytime you are fighting with anyone about the same topic all the time, or a lot of the time, it’s on you to fix. Set a boundary. It’s that simple. Setting boundaries can feel hard, hard to set, and hard to hold. However, trust me, doing it is easier than turning a relationship into a battlefield because you don’t have the guts make a stand and stand your ground.
Boundaries create both safety and freedom. They create clarity. Boundaries make being in a relationship about choice, not chaos.
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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.
Posted on 04/14/2016 at 12:00:00 AM