Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Boundary Crossing

Sister and I took a very long walk while at her house. It was a great time to catch up. One thing we discussed was boundaries and the inevitable crossing of the line that occurs. We talked about the fact that she and I are very similar and have trouble enforcing our boundaries.
I have had to learn to set boundaries. Rules and boundaries stir up a whole myriad of emotions. On the one hand I feel the need to have rules. On the other hand, I wasn't allowed to have boundaries growing up so I'm not sure what is appropriate and what is not. When my boundaries were crossed and I commented, I was laughed at. So I retreated and backed down. I still do that.

If you've been reading long, then you know the gun saga. If not, then the brief version is -- DH thinks guns are necessary for protection. I'm not a huge fan. Before we had kids, he kept a loaded gun in his dresser or on a closet shelf. When Munchkin started to walk, we made changes. The first issue was when I found Munchkin playing with the gun cabinet keys at 18 months. The keys were in the open gun cabinet door. She was interested in the keys. I was mad the cabinet was unlocked and unattended. DH & I had words and I told him it was unacceptable. Years later I found an unloaded rifle in the basement where he put it instead of putting it up after hunting. I told him if it happened again, there would be no more guns in the house. Then there was the big incident where I found a gun (he claims for protection). Husband and I created a written contract which we negotiated and signed.

So with first incident I make clear is that no guns are to be left out, unlocked. He then crosses the boundary by leaving an unloaded rifle out in the basement. I confront him and he defends saying it was unloaded and Munchkin isn't allowed in the basement unaccompanied at that age. I relent. Then there was the huge incident where he left the weapon unlocked in his dresser drawer. Boundary crossed again. He wanted a second chance. I made the contract with him and urged him to buy any gun safe he wanted. He finally bought a gun safe.

So then last week I discover he is leaving the gun safe unlocked at night. Boundary crossing. I noticed it when he did it. I shut it and told him not to do it again. He says he puts his keys in the safe so he'll never forget to lock it in the mornings. He says he's in the room when it is unlocked so it's okay. But I know he doesn't always need his keys first thing in the morning. I know 90% of the time he ends up on the couch or downstairs because we're switching off baby duty. I know that the kids love to crawl into bed with me (or him) and that they can reach the safe. I know Munchkin tried to access the safe recently because we keep her money inside it too.


I just let him violate my boundary, cross the line, break his verbal and written word. My thinking was that it was a "little" issue because I discovered it immediately and he quickly agreed not to let it happen again.

Two nights later I had a horrible nightmare that Munchkin was standing on the bed looking out the window and noticed the safe open. She wanted to count her money (we keep it in the safe until it accumulates enough to put in the bank) and moved the gun to count the money. The gun fell and went off, just missing Bugaboo who was playing on the floor. Horrible dream. Not outside the realm of possibilities though.

I'm not sure what to do now. Do I give him one more chance? I already have, really. Do I go back and insist the guns get out? Do I talk to him and let him know he crossed the boundary and while I may have let it slip, it's weighing on me?

Sounded like a good topic for this week's T session. So last night I discussed that with T. As well as the fact that Husband has still not enforced the rules with his parents. His father promised to build a gun safe and put his guns in it. He has one safe, but insists he needs some guns in the basement - they hang on the wall now.

I sat down with Husband last night and handed him the written agreement to review. He denied it being a violation and tried to argue a loophole. I tried not to act all "lawyerish" but pointed out that it was really clear that this stuff wasn't allowed. He finally conceded it might have been a gray area, and that he had read the contract to see if he could argue his point before doing the actions. I managed not to blow a gasket at that. I suggested next time there was a gray area that he discuss it with me. I told him I would not tolerate my boundaries being crossed again. I also told him that it would be wise to discuss things with his folks when he goes in this week because Christmas is coming and he surely wants to take the kids to his folks' house then (which won't happen if the gun issue isn't resolved).

So he's going to have to talk to his parents which will be really difficult for him. But he has his T's number so it's on his plate now. We'll see what happens.


Anonymous said...

I hear you and as a neutral 3rd party, I want you to know I agree with everything you've laid out-you've exercised tremendous self control in your conversations- especially on such an emotionally charged topic (the safety of the kids)
This is the nitty gritty stuff that all healthy strong marriages get to work through. It can be SO VEXING when you're in the middle of it, but @ some point you will come out the other side of this gun issue,...sounds like you're on track

Marcy said...

Sounds good to me, too. You have good concern both for maintaining the relationship and your self-respect.

Erin Merryn said...

Good for you for laying it out with your husband and having good communication.

jumpinginpuddles said...

ohh guns and kids make us shudder. Over here its illegal to own a gun without a permit and goo bloody reason why, and after reading this i can see why perhaps our rules are better.

Colleen said...

I think you are right to be upset and nervous about the guns and he is wrong to play games with your children's lives. Good communication. You were open and honest. Good for you! Hugs.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I'm glad you're being strong about this. I know it's hard. I think I'm kinda like you. I've gotten better at setting boundaries, but I back down when somebody keeps pushing. Still need to work on that one.