“Drawing lines in the sand is not something you do in a relationship. Who am I to draw the line?”
Ever heard that before? Reality check: You need to draw a line in the sand. It’s called a boundary and you need to have healthy boundaries in healthy relationships. Cheaters hate boundaries. They want to stay in cake. You need to find a counselor that actually knows what a healthy boundary is and will affirm you in setting them.
Let’s examine some common scenarios:
A couples enters a separation period, each having their own dwelling. The faithful spouse does not allow the cheating spouse to step beyond the threshold, go beyond the stairs etc. They have set a healthy boundary. No, they do NOT want that cheating liar to come into their home. This is their home. They’re separated for a reason, they’re trying to heal etc. What does the cheating spouse do? They instantly run to the counselor, pastor, friend, whoever and play the woe is me, damsel in distress card. “They’re not letting me inside the door! They’re being controlling! I have a right to enter their house! Tell them they’re being controlling! You see what I have to put up with?!” What does the counselor do? Attack the faithful spouse for being controlling.
Turn the tables and now it’s the faithful spouse who’s at the door of the cheater. If the cheater says “you cannot pass beyond the front entryway” and the faithful spouse complains, or goes beyond the entryway, what happens? The cheating spouse cries “I’m not safe!” and the pastors, counselors, friends, family etc rally behind the cheating spouse and attack the faithful spouse for crossing a boundary, violating the safety of the cheating spouse.
So it’s okay for the cheating spouse to set boundaries but not the faithful spouse? (Insert scene from Shrek in the outhouse: “what a load of [toilet flush].”)
“Who are you spending time with?” “Friends.” “Who’s (name of suspected affair partner)?” “A friend.” “Are you having an affair?” “How is this relevant to our relationship?” (Seriously, insert face smack here). “I’m concerned you’re minimally having an emotional affair.” “I’m giving my energies to my friends.” “Stop the affair.” “(insert AP name here) means nothing, he has nothing to do with our relationship. Sure, I’ll just give up (AP) and all my friends.”
Cue the “my spouse is being abusive and controlling. He’s not letting me see my friends!” dance. Woe is me!! What a poor creature they are. The cheating spouse often times will try and get the spotlight off of themselves (see gas lighting). If they throw in friends they think they can play it off that their spouse is not letting them see their friends. The faithful spouse is setting a healthy boundary. It’s not that the cheating spouse can’t have friends. It’s that the cheating spouse can’t have friends that they’re sleeping with. Does the cheater see the connection? Nope. Seeing the connection would mean they’d actually have to stop painting the faithful spouse as the villain and own up that they’ve crossed a line. They’re trying to control the narrative. It’s power and they want to keep it in their court.
Playing the controlling and abusive card is another way they’re saying You’re Not The Boss of Me! I can choose my own friends and I will sleep with them if I want to! I will enter any house that I deem fit! I will have my way! (Insert meltdown of a two year old here).
It’s completely pathetic. Seriously.
Here are some examples of healthy boundaries vs controlling behavior.
Healthy boundary: “You can’t sleep with anyone else while married to me.” “You cannot share my bed until you stop your affair and focus on our marriage.”
Controlling: “You can’t sleep at all.”
Healthy boundary: “You cannot enter my house.” “You cannot enter my house when I’m not home.”
Controlling: “You have to wear this GPS so I know when you’re close to my house.”
Healthy boundary: “You cannot go with your single friends out to the bar until 1am multiple times a week without your spouse.”
Controlling: “I must cross-examine and interrogate every friend that you have before you can hang out with them.”
Healthy boundary: “You are married. You cannot go over to an opposite sex friend’s house at 10 or 11pm at night on a regular basis.”
Controlling: “You can never leave the house.”
Healthy boundary: “You cannot be on a dating website while married to me.”
Controlling: “You can never look at a computer ever again.”
Healthy boundary: “Wear your wedding ring.”*
Controlling: “Wear these hand cuffs any time you go out. Only I have the key to unlock them.”
Healthy boundary: “You cannot have a one-on-one lunch date with the woman with whom you cheated on me.”
Controlling: “You cannot eat in the presence of a woman other than me ever again.”
*Some couples mutually agree upon not wearing rings. That is ok. This example applies to spouses that suddenly want to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement–i.e. taking their ring off while they’re at bars to advertise illicit availability.