If you feel like a doormat in your marriage it might be due to a need for boundaries.
(stick around for the self-assessment toward the end and find out how YOU can be a Titus 2 woman and lead other women to this freedom in their marriages)
I remember the first time a boundary of mine was crossed by a friend. I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, but I see it clearly now.
At the age of nine, I was sitting with a friend in the theater with a box of candy. Over half the box was in my hand, because it was noisy to open the box out and dump them. As I sat and ate my Junior Mints, I realized my friend might want one. She didn’t have any money, so I was nice and shared. I whispered, “Hey, do you want some?” And I held my hand out, piled high with the little brown orbs of peppermint yumminess.
I thought she’d take a few and be thankful.
She proceeded to scoop them off of my hand and into both of hers.
I was surprised. Shocked. Confused. Angry.
And I couldn’t believe she had done that. I wanted to say, “HEY. I meant like a few of them! What’s wrong with you?”
But I said nothing, because I was afraid I would upset her. And I didn’t have any experience with exercising my voice – I thought the only option I had was voicing my anger. And that seemed mean, so I kept my mouth shut.
I spent the rest of the movie feeling sad about my three leftover pieces in the box, and lied to myself that it was all fine. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.
Here’s the thing – it wasn’t about the candy.
It was about being taken advantage of by another, even unintentionally, and failing to speak the truth.
My anger was the signal that my boundaries had been breached. Speaking my anger would not have been my truth… but saying the truth was needed. The truth was that my friend had taken more pieces of candy than I’d expected, and left me with little. The truth was that I wanted some (or most) of that peppermint candy pile back.
I should have simply turned to my friend and nicely said (without sarcasm) something like, “I didn’t mean to give you all my candy, just a few pieces. Can you please return some?”
Instead of denying my hurt feelings, I should have spoken the truth.
This is an important step in growth, because to live in denial is to undermine our ability to see what is true about ourselves.
It matters. Here’s why:
Marriages and relationships where both people do not have healthy boundaries destroy trust & lasting love.
If you are wondering if boundaries are Biblical, I assure you, they are. Here’s just a tiny bit of info about that.
For a person to practice respect and love for others, we first have recognize a number of things:
- Limits = “boundaries” for the purposes of this discussion.
- To the degree that I respect/love myself, I am capable of respect & love for others
- If I have limits to what I will or won’t do, I’m worthy of credibility, am perceived as a person of character by other people – we teach others how to treat us
- To the degree that I allow others to walk all over me (no limits) my respect/love for myself and the way others respect/love me is diminished
- Anger, contempt, disdain, or parental condescension is a relationship damaging way of communicating boundaries
- Gentleness and patience, both fruits of the Spirit, are the best way to communicate about boundaries
Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Put a check mark next to the following “I-statements” that are true:
- Have a strong concept of what I will and will not do, based on Biblical knowledge. These are boundaries I set for myself, not in an effort to control other people’s behavior.
- When I’m not clear about what should be okay or not (boundary for myself or someone else), I research it in the Bible, or ask the person it might involve.
- My “yes” means, “yes,” and my “no” means, “no.” I don’t say things I don’t mean or agree to do things that are not right for me to do.
- Don’t judge myself for making decisions that other people do not like.
- Know what tempts me and I set boundaries to protect myself from temptation.
- Understand my weaknesses and set boundaries to strengthen myself.
- Have confidence in my ability to make the right decisions, ones that honor God and respect myself and others, in most situations.
Put a check next to the “I-Statements” that are true:
- Am aware of other people’s boundaries.
- Respect other people’s boundaries and do not cross them or provide temptation to encourage others to cross their own boundaries.
- Respect other people’s right to say, “no,” or “yes,” without judgment or pressuring them to do something else.
- Understand that the bad behavior of other people has consequences that are theirs to own and not mine to fix.
- Own my own negative states of mind without blaming others for it.
- Do not own other’s negative states of mind and do not feel responsible for fixing how they feel.
- Do not enable self-destructive behavior that damages me, children, or our marriage by covering, hiding, avoiding, ignoring, or tolerating.
- Engage in “proactive boundaries” when problems are small instead of waiting for a “reactive boundary” when things are out of control.
- Communicate my boundaries in a gentle way when they are violated.
- Am aware of and evaluative of the pain my boundaries cause others.
- My boundaries are not parental in nature, designed to “punish” my husband for his “bad” behavior.
- My boundaries are designed to bring joy to our marriage.
What about YOU? Am interested in dialogue with you about boundaries today. How have you seen boundaries impact relationships, or respect for yourself and others?
Love to you,
Read the fictional book about 6 wives who are DEFINITELY NOT doormats! Dare to Respect is changing hearts one marriage at a time.
Want to get respect right with parenting? Read Debbie’s book, With All Due Respect.
Meet Nina Roesner of The Respect Dare, Debbie Hitchcock of With All Due Respect, Tammy Oberg De La Garza of Dare to Respect, and all the phenomenal women of Greater Impact Ministries at Boot Camp, where you will …