Boundaries

Married to an Unbelieving AlcoholicPremium Content

Ask Angie: My husband is an alcoholic. Although I have committed to staying with him, I can't help but regard him with disgust even AFTER he's been drinking. Thanks to the biblical principles you teach, I'm learning how to detach when he's drinking, but in the days following a drinking binge I don't feel any affection for him. In the early days of our marriage (we've been married 20 years), I was able to warm up to him once the drinking passed. Now I am just filled with disgust. Please give me some advice. Thank you.

Marriage Guidance: We commend you for your commitment to your marriage. This shows your love for God and your willingness to please Him and do His will. You are an inspiration for others who are living with an alcoholic spouse.

Your feelings are understandable seeing that some alcoholics can be sloppy in behavior and unclean in appearance and habits. The behaviors and appearance of the alcoholic can cause much resentment build up, which is what’s happening with you. You are just now learning to detach and part of detachment is separating the alcoholic behaviors and sickness from the person you met, loved and married. When we allow the alcoholic behaviors to overtake our own thoughts we will become disgusted and resentful over the alcoholic, even during bouts of sobriety.

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Another Look at CodependencyPremium Content

Some who work in the recovery field are hindered in their efforts to minister to others because of their own codependency. Here are a few common symptoms experienced by these "wounded warriors":


Inability to detach. Staff members who lack personal acceptance and a good self concept tend to look to their clients for affirmation and a sense of worth. They take their work home with them and tend to feel terribly guilty and personally responsible when a client leaves the mission and messes up his or her life.

Caretaking & Enabling. They do not allow their clients to become responsible for their own actions and attitudes. Instead, they cover up for them, make excuses, and blameshift. By doing this, they become "enablers", allowing people then to stay in their sins, addictions, and other problems.

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Am I Codependent or being a Good Christian?Premium Content

On the surface, codependency messages sound like Christian teaching:

    "Codependents always put others first before taking care of themselves."
    (Aren't Christians to put others first?) .

    "Codependents give themselves away."
    (Shouldn't Christians do the same?).

"Codependents martyr themselves."
(Doesn't Christianity honor its martyrs?)

Those statements have a familiar ring, don't they? Then how can we distinguish between codependency, which is unhealthy to codependents and their dependents, and mature faith, which is healthy.

Codependency says:.

    I have little or no value.
    Other persons and situations have all the value.

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Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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Lies Adult Children of Alcoholics BelievePremium Content

1. That I can control my emotions.
2. That I can control someone else's emotions or actions or thoughts.
3. That I deserve:

  • to get something good.
  • to get something bad.
  • to be punished for mistakes.
  • to be rewarded for perfection.
  • to be rewarded for good behavior, intentions, thoughts, feelings, whatever.

4. That I can "make" sense out of anything. ("Making" sense is not the same as "discovering" sense.)
5. That I am responsible for

  • for outcomes.
  • for other people's feelings, thoughts or actions.

6. That I am not responsible for my own actions - that it is all someone else's fault.

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Eight Ways to Help the HomelessPremium Content

What do you do when you see someone holding up a sign, “Will Work for Food”? Do you roll down your window and give them money? Do you pretend you didn’t see them?

Nobody likes to be confronted by the homeless – their needs often seem too overwhelming – but we all want to treat them fairly and justly. Here are some simple guidelines to equip you to truly help the homeless people you meet:

1. Never give cash to a homeless person
Too often, well intended gifts are converted to drugs or alcohol – even when the “hard luck” stories they tell are true. If the person is hungry, buy them a sandwich and a beverage.

2. Talk to the person with respect
Taking time to talk to a homeless person in a friendly, respectful manner can give them a wonderful sense of civility and dignity. And besides being just neighborly, it gives the person a weapon to fight the isolation, depression and paranoia that many homeless people face.

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When Loved Ones Resent Your RecoveryPremium Content

It is not uncommon for those who start a new life in recovery to encounter resentment from their spouses, loved ones and/or friends. If this is the case, you will be put to the test by those who care for you most. This can be confusing because those who should be encouraging you in recovery are actually making it more difficult.

Your spouse may become resentful because you are spending more time at recovery meetings and less time with them. Stand strong and lovingly explain to your spouse that you need to take time for yourself in order to get your life back on track. Suggest that they come with you to open meetings where the loved ones are welcome so they can better understand your recovery process.

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Tough Love in Addiction Recovery ProgramsPremium Content

How do we properly cope with the emotional distress that some staff members experience when called upon to dismiss residents for violating recovery program rules?

A. The Principle of "Tough Love" -- One of the keys to overcoming staff difficulties in this area is educating them in the important principles of "tough love." While it can be extremely difficult to dismiss certain people from a program, we really are doing what is best for them. For those in denial about their problems, consequences can be their salvation! People continue to abuse alcohol and drugs (and persist in dysfunctional behaviors) as long as they feel the benefits outweigh the costs.

Additionally, being dismissed can often serve as an important learning experience. Such people may return to the program with a much better attitude, having had a chance to get a hard look at the pain and destruction in their old environments. Someone once said, "It's hard to go back to digging around in the garbage after you've been feasting at the King's table!"

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Avoiding Burnout in Addiction Recovery WorkPremium Content

Working in with needy people can be overwhelming at times. Staff members of outreach ministries are surrounded daily by those in need and they often struggle with limited time and resources to help them. So, learning the art of "self-care" is essential. The key to this is developing healthy attitudes toward our ministries and ourselves. Here are a few tips that can help you to avoid "burn-out" and find more joy and fulfillment in the work of the Lord:

    A. Learn to Detach – Whenever we're focusing our energies on people and problems, we have little, if any time for care and nurturing of self, and meeting our own legitimate needs. We must remember that it is God who does the real work in the lives of hurting people. This helps to take a little of the load of responsibility off our own shoulders.

    B. Learn to Practice "Professional Distance" – This does not mean being callous or uncaring toward those whom we help. It does mean keeping good boundaries between ourselves and our clients. It means not becoming so wrapped up in their lives that we carry their struggles home with us at night. Over-involvement can cloud our decision-making process to the point where we end up playing "favorites." This will jeopardize our relationships with our other clients. We cannot assume responsibility for the decisions our clients make.

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Setting Aside Our Will

1 Corinthians 13:5a RSV
[Love] is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way...

  • Love is not arrogant or rude.
    • The KJV translates this phrase: "Charity (love) doth not behave itself unseemly." This certainly isn't a phrase that we use much anymore. In fact, to be honest, we're not very concerned at all about behaving in a courteous or seemly manner in our society. To behave "seemly" is to conform one's behavior to standards of conduct and good taste. As our moms used to say, it means simply to behave properly and according to good manners.

      So the scripture here is actually more than just not being arrogant or rude, though I truly believe that rudeness is motivated by arrogance, the idea that it's "my way or the highway." When we are arrogant, we do what we want and say what we want without regard to the effects that it might have on other people. In other words, we simply don't care about anyone else (at that moment), only about ourselves, our rights, our opinions, our own actions.

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