One of the most important practical steps to recover from betrayal trauma is to create boundaries. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend describe a boundary as a personal property line, the line where you end and someone else begins. A boundary defines what is your responsibility (your feelings, attitudes, choices, and behaviors) and what is your spouse’s responsibility.
One of the most important boundaries Brandon and Tonia set was using the accountability service provided by Covenant Eyes to monitor what Brandon did on his computer and phone (sign up today for free: https://rb.gy/gb9zkn). They picked a different friend of Brandon’s as his ally to hold him accountable, reducing the burden from Tonia’s shoulders. (In fact, we at Covenant Eyes highly recommend that someone other than the spouse acts as the ally—it reduces additional hurt to the spouse, and keeps her from having to act like a police officer or mom.)
Now is a very good time to consider implementing this boundary in your own marriage. Choose a trusted friend as an ally and take this important step. Yes, it may be a hard step at first, but it will be worth it. Click here to sign up today for a free 30-day trial from Heroic Men and Covenant Eyes: https://rb.gy/gb9zkn
You can learn more about how Covenant Eyes works in marriages here: https://bit.ly/3QHqzbI
Another boundary they established was 30 days of separation. Tonia slept in a different room, refrained from any intimate activity, and didn’t even ask how he was progressing on his porn use. This allowed her to create a safe space for herself—physically, mentally, and emotionally. That degree of separation may be extreme for some of you, but it’s important to note that many recovery experts recommend 45-90 days of abstinence. This means neither of you can weaponize sex. It also gives him time to detox and reboot his body, as well as providing time to pursue intimacy in non-sexual ways.
Other common boundaries include seeking counseling, leaving the room when the tone of a conversation gets heated or when blame-shifting starts, or setting limits to avoid triggering material (like keeping the phone in the kitchen after 9 p.m.)
As you consider (or reconsider) boundaries in your own marriage, remember to set both negative and positive consequences. For example, you may set a rule like “If he removes Covenant Eyes from his phone, I will call his ally to see if the ally is aware, and if we need to downgrade him to a dumb phone.” Alternately, the rule may be “If he meets weekly with his ally, I will verbally affirm that I see growth in his life and will seek ways to show I trust him more.”
Those positive consequences are very important. Barriers provide an objective measure of behavior to rebuild trust, so show him that you trust him more as he works on his behaviors.
1) Have you set boundaries in the past? How have those gone? Are there any you’d like to change?
2) If you haven’t already, download Porn and Your Husband and look at the section on boundaries here: https://bit.ly/3QHqzbI. Which ones can you implement today?
3) Read Galatians 6:1-2. How do boundaries help restore people? How would it be beneficial to have someone outside the marriage act as the ally to “carry one another’s burdens”?
Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.