Boundaries helps us manage not only how we view people, and each other, but how we experience a good, right, excellent, noble, and wonderful life.
Boundaries. They’ve long been in the news on a large scale. How should the United States enforce its
boundaries has been the question put in front of us. There seem to be varied ways to look at such a large scale situation, but it comes down to how we decide to preserve and protect the citizens of our country. Boundaries helps us manage not only how we view people, and each other, but how we experience a good, right, excellent, noble, and wonderful life. The answer to a good life? Well there might be several answers to that question too, but the best answer is: “boundaries.”
We love our premarital couples. They come in wide-eyed, and slightly ruffled, but otherwise bushy-tailed. They’re not all young couples in their first marriages either, and yet while some have more experience than others, there seems to be a common disposition amongst them – they’re excited and in love, but are often a bit dazed by their very real, very exclusive relationship. Our conversations begin the normal way – “How did you meet?” “What do you do together for fun?” You know, stuff like that. But not long after the sweet part of the conversation we begin a conversation about boundaries that we’ve realized is not a common conversation between couples. Conversations we’ve had with people after relationship workshop lessons have made us aware that maybe only a few of you have had the conversation as well.
We Want Boundaries
Boundaries protect my freedom, my connection and relationship to my bride, as well as protect her from heartbreak and humiliation.
We want boundaries. To exist without them, even for a moment puts your relationships at the frontlines of a brutal war between the pariahs and the protected. We want to live within the boundaries of our house where we want to feel protected from the outside world, such as weather or thieves. Some of us would protect our home with significant force and systems. We protect our bedrooms and bathrooms with doors, and locks. We’re not limited to protective boundaries at our home. We protect our vehicles with alarms, codes, locks, even bullet-resistant glass in some cases. Nearly all new cars come stock with airbags, and are being built with crash-resistant technology, and safeguards including back and front-side cameras. Boundaries are not contraptions of the paranoid, they’re essentials for the wise. You need some examples? The following will hopefully answer your questions.
1. Your children. Your children (young & adult) need your protection, and yet the safest places, such as the womb, are the places where boundaries are often dissolved. We must learn to protect them, including their growth and autonomy. As parents of your young children, you watch closely as they learn to climb steps, and then ride a bike, and later drive a car. Your children need freedom. Your child’s freedom doesn’t mean they’re busting through boundaries. With every freedom comes the parameters that protect their freedom and autonomy, and that keep them safe. Getting good vehicle insurance helps protect the driver, and standing behind your child at their first tentative moments on the steps protects your child as they make their mighty climb or descent. Even your adult children who are free from parental control, often are not outside of the need or want for guidance, or even significant help.
2. Let’s consider your best relationships, such as your marriage. Your spouse is their own person, as you are. You have skills like golf skills, or professional skills, and you have your own friends. Of course your spouse enjoys the same privileges … essential privileges. You can’t provide your spouse’s every need. He/she needs their friends, even needs acquaintances. Friends validate, and acquaintances can help your spouse achieve certain goals. The boundary that allows your spouse to live, achieve, and grow is trust. The trust is a belief in the humanity of your partner, teammate, and spouse. But with independence also comes solidarity, and fidelity. Freedom requires individuality, but does not establish morality and love. You do that. You create a boundary that says you will be faithful to the love of your life in all things, and that you prefer him or her over all others. My wife and I have our own lives to a certain extent, but if I have lunch, or an activity with one of my friends, my wife knows who it is and where I am. If there was ever a time I had a lunch with another woman, our boundary is that she will always know where I am and who I am with, and that the gathering place was also with other people, or in a public place where we could or would be recognized. Boundaries protect my freedom, my connection and relationship to my bride, as well as protect her from heartbreak and humiliation.
3. The boundaries you set for your spouse also protects your friends and family. Your fidelity to your marriage also communicates to others where the line is. For instance, your other favorite people know that you’re not going to threaten them sexually. Your sexual relationship is to be safely tucked into place within your marriage bed, and yet this is the boundary that spouses often disregard. A disregarded boundary between your relationship and the world leaves your spouse exposed, naked, and completely alone. The marriage bedroom is sacred. When the door closes behind the couple, the space is their own. The room then becomes the place where two can become one. The marriage room is the safe space the tells your wife or your husband that she or he is safe … safe to become naked and unafraid, safe to breathe and let love and passion find its truest sense of goodness. Boundaries guards the good. This one boundary, that a couple does not trade themselves for adventure outside of itself allows you to safely enjoy all of your relationships, and they with you in wonderfully safe, fulfilling, boundary-driven ways.
Boundaries = Freedom And The Pursuit Of Happiness
Healthy humans, including your children, love being surrounded
You have certain freedoms, such as the ability to hang out with the “boys” at the pub. And sure, give your children some freedom, let ‘em learn the hard way sometimes. A child doesn’t necessarily bust through boundaries by taking hold of their independence. Healthy humans, including your children, love being surrounded…protected by them. Boundaries that have been busted or escaped from are a person’s or couple’s most painful and confusing time of their lives.
Remember this, taking control is not the same as establishing boundaries. Control systems are often used to create fear, and pain. Watch closely. In time, you’ll be able to tell the difference. Boundaries = freedom. Boundaries lift, and allow you to encourage those you love to go get their lives, and do well with them. Boundaries promote health, life, and the pursuit of happiness.
I Got Your Back
Lastly, here’s the piece we wanted to put up on the whiteboard of your hearts. One of the best ways to protect your significant other is to have her or his back. Sometimes that person might even be wrong in a quarrel with someone else. Doesn’t matter. Your boundary is to step in front of the other and defend your spouse, family member, or best friend. These people need you to be FOR them even when they’re being obstinate, crabby, or just plain wrong. When you compromise your favorite relationships by isolating them in front of people you do not have the same fidelity to, you are erasing the boundary and letting them fall out of the relational shelter into the lonely cold. And when it comes to your spouse, you prefer them over all others. It isn’t always clear how to have his or her back, and some of your attempts might feel awkward. But be awkward if that’s how it happens. The point is you are tending to your boundary with your spouse, and no one is to cross it … ever. You can have whatever conversation you need to have in private, and away from spectators. Keep her or him safe. That’s the job.
To Preserve The Good
Preservation is not selfish … it’s self-full
Preservation is not selfish … it’s self-full
We’re about self-preservation, and that’s ok. Boundaries preserve the good. At the macro level Boundaries matter to every country in the world, and they’re worth protecting because they preserve people that exist within them. But taking a view over your relationships, boundaries also preserve the life of yourself and another. For instance, sometimes when a client calls they want a time that’s reserved for family time. You get to preserve you and your family by establishing a boundary around them. Preservation. Preservation is not selfish … it’s self-full. Hold on to who you are, and you will be able to preserve you and those around you. There’s a tenet found in the Christian bible that’s important to note, I believe. The text reads, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This means to be self-full allows you to love fully, and preserve your “neighbor” as well as yourself. The same is true with your spouse, your best friend, or your family members. Boundaries matter. Hope long, be just, but love mercy and grace, and love well.