Core Values


As part of my early trauma therapy, I was asked to write down my core values and beliefs.

Say what? core-values

My foggy trauma brain wasn’t functioning at full capacity so I remember writing three or four sentences that included obvious statements like: “Pornography destroys marriages.” “My family is worth fighting for.” I couldn’t pull much from my core because at the time it was enveloped in a dark cloud of deep pain.

Supposedly, my core beliefs were going to help me formulate boundaries. I had written some clear “expectations” before going to therapy, so I thought writing my core values and beliefs was kind of pointless. I figured I would simply re-write my list of expectations into therapese language and voila! My boundaries would be done. No need for all this preliminary writing on bottom lines or core values.

And then a recent situation came up that forced me to ponder my core values, again. I felt the need for a declaration of my beliefs. I wanted a written document that would become the foundation for possible decisions in the future regarding addictions in general, not just sexual addictions. I wanted something that would explain my decisions to anybody that might need to know: bishop, children, husband, other betrayed wives, addicts (not just sex addicts), and therapists, if needed.


These are my beliefs regarding addiction that I have acquired in my two-plus years of seeking healing and peace after experiencing the devastating aftermath of addiction in my marriage. They are living in my core, deep inside of me, so they’re firmly planted. I might change some of the wording or add additional beliefs, but for the most part, I feel like these are solid. It’s nice to have something solid to stand on!

An unexpected reward came from my work. I shared the core values document with my husband. He appreciated it enough to email a copy to others he thought could use it. In fact, my husband and I are creating an additional document that changes the “I” to “we” and sending it off to family and couples we work with!

I pondered on my core beliefs for a long time. I can now see the value of using these as a basis for boundaries in my relationship. Today, I feel empowered because I know where I’m standing.

Download pdf here.




Fire Safety


I’m listening to the constant rumble of planes overhead in my otherwise quiet community. For me and my neighbors, circling planes are a sign that there’s a wildfire close by. We usually come out of our homes when we hear the planes and start to look for smoke so we can figure out, from the direction of the smoke’s plume, if the fire is coming our way. As a safeguard, we check, once again, to be sure we have 100 feet clearance of dry grass or shrubs around our homes. Even if the danger of fire is not imminent, we are always wary and ready. (Just a note: this particular fire is no threat to my home, so I am safe to write this post!)

I always thought containing a fire was the equivalent of putting a fire out. Not so. Containing a fire involves creating a perimeter around the fire so it cannot burn beyond designated boundaries. In our area, bull-dozers scrape away vegetation and other fuel that the fire needs to continue its growth. Wide scathes of land that have been scraped and then saturated with water or fire retardant material from the planes create a “line of control” which provides safety for any structures outside the containment area. When a line of control completely encircles the fire, we say it is “contained.”

Here’s the tricky part. A fire that is 100% contained can continue to burn for days and days. As long as no structures are threatened inside the lines of control, firefighters may choose to let the fire burn itself out. Firefighters monitor the lines of control and make sure the fire doesn’t “jump” or cross over the lines. Their vigilance in keeping their lines clear and effective is imperative in keeping citizens and their homes safe.


Our personal boundaries have some similarities to the firefighter’s lines of control. Though the word “control” might give us the idea that we can control our addict, we can’t. We don’t control our addict. In fact, our addict may choose to engage in his addiction behaviors until he burns out. We can, however, keep ourselves safe from being burned. Similar to the firefighters who create a line of containment around a fire (addict), we also need to put strong perimeters or boundaries around our own homes, ourselves.

Keeping boundaries is not an easy thing. Just like a wildfire, an addict can blow a lot of smoke! They can become defensive, minimize, or actually shift blame to others.  They might test the effectiveness of our boundaries by skirting along the edges, looking for places where we are weak so they can plunge through and continue their destructive behavior. When this happens, depending on how unsafe we are, it might be necessary to evacuate our homes or the relationship until we know our safety is ensured.

I’m often asked what boundaries look like. Well, my boundaries are not going to look like your boundaries, just like the clearance around my home, does not look like my neighbors’. I have slopes, rocks, shrubs, and trees that are unique to my property. So, I have to prune, weed, and clear around the perimeter of my home differently than someone else who has corrals, barns, or fencing to save.

Though each of our boundaries are unique, it sometimes helps to see an example of boundaries in order to have a starting point for our own. I have permission to share these partner-boundaries (click here) from an LDS wife and mother. I appreciate the loving tone of these boundaries. They seem to be written from someone who feels empowered.  Again, everyone’s boundaries should be unique, but I do believe they are best written from a place that indicates we know our worth. Fire on the horizon can instill a great deal of fear in us, but fear does not create a good foundation from which we make sound decisions.

As a final thought, firefighters sometimes fight fire with fire. If you’re living with an addict on fire, someone who bullies or demeans your self-worth, then you need to light your own fire. You need to know that you are a child of God who is worth better treatment. Feel the love of God burn within you and use that empowering feeling to guide your next loving step.

“I survived because the fire within me burned brighter than the fire around me” (Joshua Graham).









Boundaries and Self Worth

house construction


My support group recently watched a video that featured, along with some weird-looking zombies, the importance of creating boundaries.

The point of this video (see below) is that the way we see ourselves can determine how well we are able to enforce our personal boundaries. If you see yourself as a beautiful mansion that has been maintained well, you will want to put up a secure fence to keep your mansion house safe.

On the other hand, if you’ve abandoned your house and left it in disarray for a while, you might not feel the need for a strong fence or any fence at all to protect your house. I think living with an addict year after year can do a lot of damage to our personal houses that are built in our hearts. I have to admit, there have been times in my life when I felt like my house, (or me), was in a neglected state and in need of repair. When I viewed the abandoned house depicted in the video, I felt sad because I could relate to the feeling of being that kind of house.

Fortunately, I’m a good fixer-upper and I have spent periods of time here and there for house-cleaning, repairing, and sprucing up my house-self. I count this as a gift from God. I didn’t discover my husband’s addiction until decades into our marriage and I often wondered why God hid these secrets from me. I may never know the answers for sure, but I can now see this as a huge blessing because God gave me time to really work at fixing up my house. I didn’t end up with a mansion, but I feel my foundation has always been solid and my framework is sturdy and reliable. You see, I’ve never doubted that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me. My foundation is built on that testimony. The knowledge that I have divine worth, has helped me keep my house in good condition, but it has taken years of work to get to that point.

So, when it was time for me to create personal boundaries, I was blessed with some good building material from my fixer-upper house inside my heart. There was just enough left in my house to build my safety fence. In fact, some of my first attempts at fence-building probably ended up looking more like a brick wall with razor wire on the top instead of a boundary fence! I may have made a few ultimatums, but they worked for me until I figured out a better approach.

Betrayed wives are often counseled to create boundaries right away. I think an important step is missed in such counsel. I think betrayed wives must first learn to love themselves and discover their true value. I believe this comes from relying on God and believing that He values us as His children.  When we believe in our own self worth, we understand the need for protecting ourselves, the houses for our souls, from behaviors that show no respect for our true value.

In the end, loving yourself is not about tooting your own horn or conforming to the world’s view of self-esteem. It’s about being who you are—a unique child of God—and knowing that who you are is a good thing. When you understand your eternal worth and you live in a way consistent with your divine heritage, you will gain a lasting self-esteem that is better than anything the world can offer (Truth, Lies, and Your Self-Worth, By Mindy Raye Friedman, New Era, Jan. 2014).

A strong sense of our eternal worth is the best thing to keep the homes in our souls, our heart houses, beautiful and strong.  I once took a white board marker and wrote on my mirror, “You are a daughter of God.” I left that message on the mirror and daily repeated the words until I felt like I regained my sense of worth. Regardless of our circumstances, our mistakes, or our moments of faltering faith, we are daughters of God and we deserve houses that are safe.


Where Trust Is

Two days after discovering my husband’s secret life, I took a drive to get away from home. I found a quiet place, parked my car, and pondered. I wasn’t prepared to write down my thoughts, so I had to improvise by jotting down notes on a small strip of card stock I found in my purse. My writing surface was no bigger than a 3×5 card, but the notes that fit on that small space made a big difference in the days ahead.

I finished my notes at my daughter’s house. She was the one who discovered my husband’s online dating emails. After sobbing for what seemed to be forever, I went through my notes with her and added a few more. I needed someone to confirm that I was being reasonable.

Those notes were things that I needed in order to feel ok about giving my marriage a chance. They came from somewhere deep within me. The list included things like using internet filters, taking another employee or family member on business trips, and having another individual take care of business and personal finances.

I presented my list to my husband soon after writing it. The list was still written in a rough format on my tiny card stock slip. I hadn’t read Melodie Beattie’s book, yet. And I hadn’t heard of “boundaries” in a marriage. I just followed my instincts that told me I needed to know things were going to change and they were going to change MY way.

My husband enthusiastically embraced my list when I first presented it, but when I started talking about boundaries, his response was a gruff, “You can’t control me!” He was right. I can’t control him nor can I control anybody else in my sphere of influence. I revised my boundaries so that my expectations were clear and the consequences were such that I could control them. For example, “If my husband lies, I will not sleep in the same bed with him until I feel safer.”   

As I worked on formalizing my boundaries, I constantly referred to my first list, which actually seemed to cover most everything I needed. I tried to write my boundaries without letting my emotions take over, so they ended up reading like a business document. I took advantage of that and made my boundaries into a contract and had my husband sign it.

But I wasn’t satisfied.

I wanted a short bulleted list so my husband could always remember our contractual agreement. Then it hit me. If my husband could just be honest and transparent about everything, I could feel safe. Honesty also coincides with many of my boundaries regarding reporting slip-ups and financial integrity. Honesty. That is the core of everything I need.

The Healing Through Christ workbook has a beautiful quote from Sister Barbara B. Smith:

“Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.”

I need trust. I need love. I need honesty from my husband. I figured if my husband could remember those things, everything else would fall into place. So, I made him a small card that fits in his wallet with a message that has become our marriage foundation and pact:

Our marriage will be based upon a relationship in which there is transparency, honesty, and trust. These elements are the foundation for an enduring, eternal, and fulfilling relationship. “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish” (Sister Barbara B. Smith). I want our love to flourish.


My husband put the card in the front flap of his wallet because he wanted to see it often. Every time he opens his wallet, I can see the card and it reminds me that my husband is doing whatever it takes to work on his recovery.  This little card has become a nice gift for both of us.