There was a time when I thought all activities needed to be a group project. You know what I mean – Lary and I do them together. Ahh, the bliss of couple life. What I began to realize is that when one of us doesn’t really want to participate, the bliss can become misery for all involved. Law four and five should have been utilized and we would have all been happier.
We’ve been discussing the “Ten Laws of Boundaries” in Boundaries In Marriage by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend these last few weeks and today we touch on three more.
Law # 4: The Law of Respect – When we become stronger emotionally and begin to set limits and learn to say no a bit more, it feels so freeing. But, when others begin saying no to us and setting limits where we are concerned, it just not exciting at all. “Loving your mate means desiring and protecting her (his) freedom of choice. It means dying to your wish for her (him) to see things your way and appreciating that she (he) has her (his) own mind, values, and feelings.” And this, “Tell your spouse you want your boundaries respected, and ask him if he feels his are being respected also. Let him know that you value and desire him to be free to say no, even if you don’t like the answer.”
As I thought more about this, I am reminded of Christ’s love for us. He wants us to choose to love, to choose to be in relationship with Him. God is such a gentleman. He respects our right to choose, even when He knows He won’t like the answer. It is His will that no one die without a relationship with Him. The cross and the empty tomb are testaments to His desire for us to be with Him forever. He made a way. Such love.
Law # 5 The Law of Motivation – “states that we must be free to say no before we can wholeheartedly say yes. Having to do anything is a sign that someone is afraid.” What are some of those fears?
- Fear of losing love
- Fear of a spouses anger
- Fear of losing the approval of others
- Fear of not reciprocating the love someone has given (thus hurting his for her feelings)
The Drs. list eight fears in total. As I read over these, I see my motivation for many yeses in my life were founded in fear. No one wants someone to say yes to us because of fear. Did Lary say yes to me for some of those blissful activities because of concern or fear over how I would react? As I begin to understand boundaries better, I see where fear definitely motivated my yes too many times with him. He wouldn’t want that and I don’t either.
“The Law of Motivation keeps fear out of the picture.”
Law # 6 The Law of Evaluation – This one really hits me hard. I am a fixer and I do not want anyone I love to be in pain. This law asks us to do an evaluation, “We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do they cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?” This reminds me of something Beth Moore once said, “Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong and just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.” The Docs say it like this, “Just because someone is in pain doesn’t necessarily mean something bad is happening. Something good might be going on, such as a spouse learning to grow up.” The book goes into much detail with examples – another good reason to read it.
I watched a show last night (documentary) letting me be that proverbial “fly on the wall” in a family that was in a serious financial situation. Husband, “She has to stop spending so much money (wife had grown accustomed to lots of disposable income to spend). If she doesn’t I am going to reduce her credit card limit.” He did not and she did not stop. This is a great example of when pain leads to growth. That action would have hurt, but would have been a great decision for the family.
Boundaries in any relationship can be uncomfortable. Downright painful – even for the one setting them. Gil Martin, our counselor, once told me that a boundary can look like a “I don’t love you.” to someone. That might not reflect how we feel, but that might be how they perceive it. Hopefully those issues can be worked through when both parties want to be healthy.
If we could just learn how to love and respect like Jesus, our relationships would be so much healthier. He set the original boundary lines for relationships.