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Part 2: Embracing Boundaries: My Thoughts on the Book, "Boundary Boss", by Terri Cole

Updated: Jul 12

In my previous blog post, titled "Embracing Boundaries: An Important Piece of the Puzzle for a Happier Marriage" (Part 1), I delved into the myriad reasons why establishing boundaries in my ADHD marriage has been paramount for nurturing its growth and harmony. In this installment, I'll share my thoughts on Terri Cole's book, "Boundary Boss."

As I sought guidance and support to navigate this journey, Melissa Orlov, an expert in relationships and ADHD, recommended a book that has since become my guiding light: "Boundary Boss" by Terri Cole. Through insights gained from both Melissa and Terri's work, I've come to appreciate the pivotal role that setting and maintaining boundaries plays in sustaining a healthy and thriving ADHD marriage.

1. The Imperative of Boundaries in an ADHD Marriage

In an ADHD marriage, establishing and upholding boundaries is absolutely indispensable. Our ADHD partners often lack many executive functioning skills, which often results in non-ADHD spouses assuming additional responsibilities such as household chores, future planning, and parenting. This can gradually lead to burnout, as the non-ADHD spouse takes on more and more of these responsibilities. One common rationale for this imbalance is the belief that it's easier for the non-ADHD spouse to handle them. Therefore, setting clear boundaries is not just advisable; it's critical, as per my personal experience. These boundaries are essential for preserving your sanity and preventing the accumulation of resentments. Terri's book offers an exercise where you can delineate what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of boundaries.

2. Identifying Non-Negotiable Boundaries and Staying Committed to Them

Depending on your upbringing and environment, your boundaries may be easily compromised, especially in the early to mid-stages of your ADHD marriage when love often takes precedence. In Terri's book, she talks about how many of us are "high-functioning codependent" meaning having a dysfunctional behavioral pattern where one feel overly responsible for feelings and actions of others at your own expense. However, your happiness is paramount, and if certain boundaries are non-negotiable and significantly impact your well-being, it's crucial to stand your ground. Terri's book helped me recognize that, in addition to understanding your own boundaries, you must determine which ones are non-negotiable and avoid compromising them at all costs. This proactive approach enables you to anticipate situations in your marriage and develop strategies for addressing boundary violations.

3. Proactive Communication of Boundaries

We often hesitate to say "no" or enforce our boundaries, fearing guilt or shame associated with delivering unwelcome news. However, prioritizing your well-being is essential, and no one is better at looking out for yourself than you. In Terri's book, she provides practical steps to help you communicate your boundaries effectively. These steps offer a guilt- and shame-free framework for articulating your boundaries.

4. Practice in Real Situations: Overcoming the Fear

Implementing boundaries in real situations can be daunting at first. It's okay to feel apprehensive or scared, but remember, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become with setting and maintaining boundaries. As you face these challenges head-on, you'll find that using boundaries not only benefits your ADHD marriage but also boosts your confidence in navigating the intricacies of your relationship. In the book, Terri talked about how to overcome your fears and offer practical steps to help you not fall back to the previous version of yourself.

In my ADHD marriage, setting boundaries has become a cornerstone of our relationship's stability and growth, no matter how small or how big the issue is. It's not about imposing rigid structures but discovering a balance that works for both of us. "Boundary Boss" has proven to be a valuable resource, offering practical advice and strategies for implementing these boundaries effectively.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I strongly encourage you to explore the concept of setting boundaries. It may not be easy initially, and ongoing effort is required, but the benefits it brings to your ADHD marriage and your own well-being are immeasurable. Remember, it's a journey of growth and understanding, and with your ADHD spouse, you can collectively forge a harmonious and fulfilling partnership.

Interested in Terri's work? Here is her website so you can find even more information. Terri also create the Boundary Boss Workbook as a companion for the book so you can do all the exercises in one place . It comes out on Oct 28, 2023. Check it out here on goodies you get when you pre-order.

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