Read an Excerpt
What 's a Boundary, Anyway?
In this session, you will
* See that love, freedom, and responsibility are necessary ingredients if a marriage is to grow and thrive.
* Define 'boundaries,' look at examples of boundaries, and consider their importance.
* Recognize that you are responsible for your feelings, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, choices, thoughts, values, limits, talents, desires, and love, all of which lie within your boundaries.
* Freedom, responsibility, and love---something incredible happens as these three ingredients of relationship work together.
* Stephanie was suffering from the emotional distance that being on the wrong side of a one-sided relationship creates.
* Stephanie realized that there was really very little of her in the marriage. She had adapted to her husband and had complied with him so much that she could no longer even remember what it felt like to be herself.
* Stephanie realized that she could not blame Steve for her loss of herself. She was the one who, afraid of conflict, had complied with his wishes. She had to take ownership of her passivity.
* Stephanie took responsibility for her own misery and began to work on it in the relationship. She didn't---as many people do---leave the relationship to 'find herself.'
* As Stephanie took ownership and responsibility for her life, Steve was forced to take responsibility for his own, and their marriage improved.
* Steve also learned to love Stephanie's freedom. He began to be attracted by her independence instead of threatened by it.
TIME FOR THOUGHT
A Look in the Mirror
You will be doing this exercise on your own. Take 5 minutes to answer the questions below and reflect on your own marriage.
1. What, if anything, did you see of yourself and your marriage in Stephanie's situation?
2. If you were Stephanie, what could you do to improve your marriage?
3. If you were Steve, what would you want Stephanie to do to let you know that she is drifting away from you?
4. Why are you taking this Boundaries in Marriage course? What do you hope to learn?
Love, Freedom, and Responsibility
* Marriage is about love. But while love is indeed at the heart of marriage, it is not enough.
* The marriage relationship needs freedom and responsibility to grow and thrive.
*When two people are free to disagree, they are free to love. When they are not free, they live in fear, and love dies.
* When two people together take responsibility to do what is best for the marriage, love can grow. When they do not, one takes on too much responsibility and resents it; the other does not take on enough and becomes self-centered or controlling.
* This course is about promoting love, growing it, developing it, and repairing it. We want to help you develop love through providing a better environment for it: one of freedom and responsibility. This is where boundaries, or personal property lines, come in. They promote love by protecting individuals.
TIME TO TALK
Love, Freedom, and Responsibility
With your spouse, turn to another couple near you and take 10 minutes to share your answers to the three questions listed below.
1. Marriage is about being bound together by the care, need, companionship, and values of two people, which can overcome hurt, immaturity, and selfishness to form something better than what each person alone can produce. Love is at the heart of marriage, as it is at the heart of God himself (1 John 4:16). When have you seen or perhaps even experienced the partnership of marriage being 'something better than what each person alone can produce'? Give a specific example. 2. When two people are free to disagree, they are free to love. When they are not free, they live in fear, and love dies.
* Why does genuine love allow the freedom to disagree?
*What fears come into play when people are not free to disagree---and why do those fears cause love to die?
3. When two people together take responsibility to do what is best for their marriage, love can grow. When they do not, one takes on too much responsibility and resents it; the other does not take on enough and becomes self-centered or controlling. What, if anything, do you see about yourself, your marriage, and/or marriage in general when you look through the lens this statement offers?
Boundaries in Marriage
* For intimacy in marriage to develop and grow, there must be boundaries. A boundary is a property line. It denotes the beginning and the end of something.
* If I know where the boundaries are in our relation-ship, I know who 'owns' things such as feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. I know to whom they 'belong.' And if there is a problem with one of those, I know to whom the problem belongs as well.
*A relationship like marriage requires each partner to have a sense of ownership of himself or herself. The first way in which clarifying boundaries helps us is to define where one person ends and the other begins. What is the problem, and where is it? Is it in you, or is it in me? If we can see that the problem is our problem and that we are responsible for it, then we are in the driver's seat of change.
* Three realities have existed since the beginning of time: freedom, responsibility, and love. God created us free. He gave us responsibility for our freedom. As responsible free agents, we are told to love him and each other.
*When spouses are free to not react to each other, each takes responsibility for his or her own issues and loves the other person even when he or she does not deserve it. Free from each other's control, each gives love to the other freely, and that love transforms the individuals and produces growth in their marriage.