“Carmen, you have the opportunity to help Lary be a better man.” When Gil, our counselor, spoke those words it almost seemed like he was speaking in a foreign language.
We married when I was only sixteen years old. He, twenty. By the time Gil said that, our marriage had long established behaviors (ruts). The concept that I should do anything that might make Lary uncomfortable or upset (on purpose) seemed ridiculous. I saved those times for when I was determined an issue should go a certain way. You know those kind of issues – everybody being upset seems worth it.
In Boundaries in Marriage, Drs. Cloud and Townsend just put it out there, “God designed marriage to be a place not only of love, but of growth.” Oh Lord, growth. That usually means pain of some sort. It sounds like they are saying that God expects us to help each other grow up.
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT or, As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT
Today we are touching on three of the laws of boundaries in marriage. I mean touch. Please take the time to dig in this book.
- The Law of Sowing and Reaping – “Our actions have consequences. When we do loving, responsible things, people draw close to us. When we are unloving or irresponsible, people withdraw from us by emotionally shutting down, or avoiding us, or eventually leaving the relationship. Our response could range from mentioning how our spouse’s behavior hurts our feelings, all the way to setting a limit on the behavior.”
- The Law of Responsibility – “We are responsible to each other, but not for each other. We need to avoid taking ownership for our mates life.” So, Lary is not responsible for my happiness.? He is responsible to me to be the best husband he can be. But, my happiness and his happiness are our responsibilities. “Spouses must refuse to rescue or enable the sinful or immature behavior of their partners.” For example, your guy gambling? Then “appropriate limits need to be set such as canceling credit cards, maybe separating joint accounts or insisting on professional help, to force him to take responsibility for his problem.”
- The Law of Power – “We have no power over the attitudes and actions of other people.” “We do have the power to start identifying ways you are actively or passively contributing to the problem, and you have the power to change over time.”
See, I told you it would be uncomfortable. I’m going to be honest, sometimes I just stink at boundaries. I am a pleaser and a peace keeper rather a peace maker most of the time. What I am learning is that when we don’t keep boundaries firmly, it’s uncomfortable anyway. Life just gets out of whack (is that a technical term?) and we all end up unhappy.
Let’s work on making those we love better people and humbly allow them to help us be better too.