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ummaries S Volume 2 . Issue 35

Dr. Richard Averbeck

Rev. D. Stuart Briscoe

Dr. Paul Cedar

In Marriage
Mr. Dave Coleman

Dr. & Mrs. Larry Crabb

A Quick Focus
Mr. Roger Cross
The Book's Purpose
Rev. Samuel Farina
Explain how establishing
Dr. Kenneth O. Gangel boundaries is essential for
Rev. & Mrs. Lud Golz building a healthy marriage
Dr. Howard G. Hendricks
Teach couples how values
Mr. Olan Hendrix
form the structure and
Dr. David Jeremiah architecture of marriage By Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Published by Zondervan Publishing House
Rev. Knute Larson
Offer strategies for dealing Grand Rapids, Michigan
ISBN 0-310-22151-X
Dr. John C. Maxwell
with serious violations and
Dr. Bruce McNicol betrayals in marriage level of loving intimacy which is God's
Mr. Dean Merrill intent and design.
Mrs. Elisa Morgan
Show how to protect marriage Establishing boundaries in marriage
from intruders is not a method of fixing, punishing, or
Dr. Ray Ortlund
changing your mate. It is a method of
Dr. Luis Palau
The Book's Message developing self-control.C
Dr. Gilbert A. Peterson Love, freedom, and responsibility SB
are key building blocks of a healthy
Rev. Wes Roberts
marriage. By establishing boundaries Six Main Points
Rev. & Mrs. Jamie in a marriage, spouses create a healthy What's a Boundary, Anyway? . . . . . . . . . . . 2

environment in which their love for
Mr. Jim Warren one another can flourish. The Ten Laws of Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Dr. Rick Warren
The task of setting boundaries Setting Boundaries on Yourself . . . . . . . . 4
cannot wait until later in marriage.
Couples who fail to establish boun- It Takes Two to Make One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
David A. Martin daries early in their marriages often God's Values for Marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Editors discover destructive results later. But
Michael & Cheryl
Chiapperino spouses who work together to establish Resolving Conflict in Marriage . . . . . . . . . 6
boundaries will develop the deep
A boundary is a property line that indicates
ownership and responsibility in a relationship.
When you recognize erty. They provide safety for those “People in denial are deaf to
that a certain feeling, behavior, living within the boundaries, and words of truth. They only respond
or attitude is yours~and not your they give the boundary-setters to pain and loss. Consequences
spouse's~you can take responsibi- control over what happens within show where our boundary line is.”
lity for it. This is the first step to- them. Good boundaries keep evil
out and allow the good to come 4. Emotional Distance:
ward changing any problem. In a hurtful relationship, one part-
in and stay in~while providing
tools for the individuals in the ner may need to distance herself
relationship to be self-controlled, emotionally from her hurtful
Recognizing not other-controlled. Ultimately, spouse for the purpose of protec-
self-control serves and nourishes tion until the errant spouse
that a the love that is being protected by demon-strates maturity and self-
certain issue is the boundaries. control.
your spouse’s 5. Physical Distance:
responsibility Examples In additional to physical safety
frees you of Boundaries from abuse, physical distance can
provide time to think, to heal,
from being 1. Words:
Words help to identify to others and to learn.
victimized who you are and what you expect. 6. Other People:
by it. The presence of other people can
2. Truth: create a safe environment in which
Love requires truth. When one to confront potentially emotional
The Triangles partner is not truthful with the
other, intimacy is destroyed.
of Boundaries 7. Time:
The marriage relationship is 3. Consequences: Time is a tool that can be used
intended by God to be one of joy- Consequences identify boundary wisely and deliberately for solving
ful intimacy. It is only when free- lines and reveal when they have problems and resolving conflicts.
dom, responsibility, and love are been crossed.
present in the marriage that God's CB
purpose for it can be achieved. As S
we grow in love for God and for
one another, we are freed from the
slavery of sin, past hurts, and inse-
curities. As a result, we are able to Boundaries in marriage
take more responsibility for our allow each spouse to
growth. And as we become more
responsible, we also become more take responsibility for:
loving, and the cycle continues.

The Purpose Feelings Behaviors Limits

of Boundaries Thoughts Talents Attitudes
In marriage, boundaries serve
the same purpose as fences placed
around the edge of a piece of prop- Choices Desires Values
The Ten Laws of Boundaries
The following ten 4. The Law of Respect are insufficient for growth. Reactive
laws describe the reality of marriage. Respecting the boundaries of others boundaries must be replaced by
Whether or not couples choose to is necessary if we expect others to proactive boundaries set in place
acknowledge them, these laws are respect our boundaries. By respect- for the purpose of cultivating love,
operative in marriage. The decision ing and valuing your mate's boun- freedom, and responsibility.
to live within their boundaries or daries, you give your spouse the
to rebel against them will alter the freedom to love you as God intended. 8. The Law of Envy
course of a marriage. Envy is the number one obstacle
5. The Law of Motivation to establishing boundaries in mar-
1. The Law of Sowing and riage. It is an all-consuming focus
Reaping on what someone else has, coupled
Actions have consequences, both “We must be with a resentment against that per-
for individuals and for those close son for having it while we do not.
to them. Allowing a spouse to reap
free to say no
the consequences of his or her ac- before we can “Envy is miserable because we're
tions is a loving way to bring growth dissatisfied with our state, yet
to a relationship. wholeheartedly powerless to change it.”
say yes. No one
“Refusing to rescue your spouse~ Envy should not be confused with
such as by refusing to cheer him up can actually love desire, which motivates us to take
when he is pouting, sacrificing to another if he action because we want something.
pay off his credit card bill, calling Desire focuses on preserving the
in sick for him when he has been doesn’t have the goodness and the value of what
out partying the night before~ choice not to.” we have.
helps keep the problem with him.”
9. The Law of Activity
The spouse who has the prob- We should be active in learning
lem must face the effects of the If love is to be freely given in mar- and setting boundaries.
problem. riage, it cannot be coerced. Be vul-
nerable with your spouse and give “Active people make lots of mis-
your mate time and love. This will
2. The Law of Responsibility ensure that his or her choices will takes, and wise ones grow from
them (Hebrews 5:14) ...Passive
be based on your shared values, people have trouble learning be-
“We are responsible to each other, not on fear.
but not for each other.” cause they are afraid to take risks.
Because of this, they also have a
Each spouse needs to consider the 6. The Law of Evaluation harder time taking charge of their
effects his or her actions have on Pleasure and pain, in and of them- lives and boundaries.”
the other partner. We make a dan- selves, are not good indicators of
gerous mistake~and perpetuate the the state of a marriage. Some pain You should always be willing to take
problem~when we take responsibi- is necessary as a symptom of growth. the first step toward change. Don't
lity for a spouse's sinful or immature Establishing boundaries can result wait for your spouse to change
behavior. in pain. If the pain does not lead first.
to injury, it is probably the type of
pain that will lead to growth. Accept- 10. The Law of Exposure
3. The Law of Power ing and even embracing the pain
We do not have power over We should always communicate our
of growth is a step that will help boundaries to each other. Failure
attitudes and actions of others. to build a solid marriage.
We do not have the power to to do so prevents true intimacy
change a spouse. from developing in a marriage.
We do have the power to con- 7. The Law of Proactivity
fess our sinful ways, turn from We must be proactive in solving “A boundary that is not communi-
them, and ask God to help us problems based on our values, cated is a boundary that is not
overcome them. wants, and needs. Every marriage working.”
will have some boundaries that have
“Spouses often try to use boundaries been set as a reaction to problems CB
to assert power over a mate, and it that arise, but reactive boundaries S
doesn't work.”
ing to control your spouse. Spouses
Setting Boundaries seek to control one another in many
ways~using guilt, anger, or assaults
on boundaries to coerce from the

On Yourself But God’s design for marriage

hinges on each partner’s commit-
ment to submit to Him and
other partner the decision or beha-
vior that is desired.

His principles. Each partner must If you are attempting to con-

Often, when be concerned about correcting his trol your spouse, these steps will
problems arise in a relationship, we own shortcomings~not his spouse’s. help you establish boundaries:
face the temptation to blame our
partner, but such blame-shifting is “You are Realize the cost of your control.
usually a futile oversimplification of
the real problem. But when we de- responsible You may be losing your spouse's
love and intimacy.
cide to stop blaming our spouse for half of Ask your spouse to let you know
and own the problem as our own, your marriage how your control affects him or
we are then in a position to make her.
the necessary changes. and all Recognize that you are helpless
It is rare that a problem in
of your soul.” to change your spouse.
Learn to accept and let go of
a marriage is wholly the fault of one what you cannot change; grieve
spouse.Usually, both husband and Setting boundaries on your
own character weaknesses is a lov- if necessary.
wife have some responsibility for the Work through dependency
difficulty. Consequently, the "inno- ing thing to do for your spouse
since it creates an environment in issues, and make sure that your
cent" spouse needs to consider what spouse is not the only person
part he or she plays in the problem. which your spouse is free to mature.
As you grow in relationship to God, who can meet all of your emo-
Then he or she must take an active tional needs.
role in working toward a solution. you will become more empathetic
and supportive toward your spouse, Find your identity in yourself,
The "innocent" spouse must resist not in your spouse~so disagree-
the temptation to dwell on the other encouraging her by your love.
ments will not be seen as personal
partner's problems, to feel victimized Above all, set boundaries on attacks.
by the relationship, or to be judg- your attempts to control your Value your spouse's freedom as
mental of the spouse. spouse. If you do not respect your you would want your freedom
spouse's disagreements with you, valued.
We are often tempted to be- if you punish your spouse for choos- Set boundaries with your spouse
lieve that our primary task in mar- ing differently than you, or if you instead of controlling him or
riage is to “fix” or control a spouse. do not value your spouse's free- her. CB
dom, then it is likely you are try- S

It Takes Two to Make One herself, and will expect the same
Marriage is intended “A marriage made in from those that he or she loves. This
by God as a union of two complete Heaven is one where a man requires honesty and a willingness
persons. It is only when two mature to confront areas of immaturity.
and whole individuals come togeth- and a woman become more
er in marriage that their union will richly themselves together Valuing the
be complete. Marriage is not de- than the chances are either
signed to be a shortcut to maturity,
of them could ever have
Treasure of Your
a way of completing yourself. Ra-
ther, God designed marriage as a managed to become alone.” Spouse’s Soul
As a mature person, you should
way for two distinct people to come ~Frederick Buechner value your spouse's feelings, attitudes,
together and create something big- perspectives, and talents, seeking in
ger and better than either one could everything you do to nurture, devel-
achieve individually. Spouses should A mature, complete adult will op, and take care of those precious
complement one another, not com- take responsibility for himself or aspects of the one you love.
plete one another. continued on page 5
IT TAKES TWO continued from page 4

You must recognize that your

spouse is not an extension of your-
self; you need to give him or her
permission to exist and grow as an
God’s Values

1. See your spouse as a person, not

as an object whose only impor-
tance consists in meeting your
for Marriage
Each marriage develops its own unique
needs. character, shaped by the spouses' values. So your values are the primary
2. Allow your spouse to have his boundaries for your marriage. What you value determines what you
or her own experience, joining will allow, what you will fight against, and what you will pursue in your
in it, identifying with it, under- marriage. Consequently, you should cultivate godly values in your mar-
standing it, being empathetic riage. Think long-term. Invest time and energy in developing and de-
with it. fending your values, and it will yield valuable dividends~not the least of
3. Allow your spouse the freedom which will be a deep relationship with your spouse.
to be different from you. Value
your spouse's differences and The Worst Value Ever
treat them with respect. Em- Personal happiness should not be the highest goal, the most sought-
brace the differences between after value in a healthy marriage. Happiness is not an end in itself; it is
you and your spouse as the ma- a product of hard work and patience in the relationship. There will be
terial out of which love grows. times in any marriage when one or both partners is unhappy, but this
4. Cherish your spouse's existence. unhappiness might be the direct result of painful personal growth. And
Appreciate your partner for who this growth is a key component of the relationship's long-term vitality.
he or she is, apart from what
you get from him or her. Boundary-loving spouses will work through these tough times to-
gether and will usually reach a deeper happiness as a result. But if happi-
ness is the highest value for the marriage and it is absent for a season,
Guarding we will assume that the relationship itself is the problem.
Freedom “People who always want to be happy and pursue it above all else are
Humans were created by God some of the most miserable people in the world.”
to become independent from their
parents and to be free. If you are con- Surprisingly, when we are most unhappy, good things are probably
trolling your spouse, you are inter- happening~if we will let them!
fering with your spouse's freedom,
and you are acting as a parent to God’s Values for
him or her. Because of God's design God has articulated several values that form the bedrock of strong
for human maturity, it is natural for marriages. We must know them, cultivate them and work on them dili-
a spouse to rebel against a control- gently.
ling, parental mate. Those who seek
to control end up destroying love. “Stand against anything in yourself or your spouse that would de-stroy
them. This is righteous indignation, and your marriage may depend
“The ability for each partner to al- on it...Pursue them with everything you can muster. They will not fail
low the other to be a free, separate you in the end.”
person is one of the hallmarks of a 1. Love God
solid relationship.” When you hold loving God as your primary value, your attention
stays on your relationship with Him. This helps you to remember that
Ultimately, a balance between you are not the one in control, and this helps you to establish boundaries
separateness and togetherness is re- in your own life. God tells you how to change and gives you the power
quired for a healthy marriage. When to do it.
each spouse is a complete person
with individual interests and pursuits, “When loving God is our orienting principal in life, we are always
the time spent pursuing individual adjusting to what He requires from us.”
interests actually produces a God-
given longing for togetherness which 2. Love Your Spouse
enriches the marriage. But if, because God designed the marriage relationship to be one nourished by
of a controlling spouse, there is no agape love, self-sacrificial love focused solely on the good of the other
separateness, then there can be no person. Agape love is based on a commitment to the relationship and
genuine togetherness because there is active in preserving and developing it.
are no longer two complete people continued on page 6
involved in the relationship. CB
GOD’S VALUES continued from page 5
4. Faithfulness spouses are willing to forgive one
“This kind of love may cost you. It another. In order for marriages to
may put you out. It may be difficult “A faithful spouse is one who can
be trusted, depended upon, and survive the crises they will face,
for you. But if you were the other, husbands and wives must be ten-
it would be good. And to love her believed in, and one in whom you
can rest.” der-hearted toward one another.
as yourself means that you want it
for your spouse as desperately as you Faithfulness in marriage goes “Hardness of heart, much more
would want it for yourself.” far beyond the physical aspects. than failure, is the true relation-
When you love your spouse Some spouses are physically faithful ship killer.”
with agape love, you will be sensi- but emotionally unfaithful. Faith-
tive to the ways your choices will af- fulness means being able to be trust- Tenderheartedness involves a
fect your spouse. You will place top ed in all aspects of the relationship. recognition of our own ability to
priority on improving your spouse's sin, a vulnerability with regard to
life, and you will desire the other’s The faithful couple will: our own weaknesses, an empathy
best even when he or she is unable Trust each other toward our spouse~and a willingness
to see what that is. Have confidence in each other to repent.
Be assured of each other's
3. Honesty character and dependability 6. Holiness
Be convicted of your ability A holy person is one who is
“Anything, large or small, is for- to trust each other pure and blameless. When you and
givable and able to be worked Be certain of each other's your spouse pursue holiness, it
through in a relationship~except fidelity means that you are both striving
deception.” Be true to one another to become the person God would
Be certain of one another have you to be, the kind of person
Dishonesty damages any rela- who can be truly loving.
tionship because it subverts the pos- Be permanent to each other
sibility of knowing one another as Rest in each other
“In marriage, holiness is anything
you truly are. Honesty is, therefore, 5. Compassion and Forgiveness but boring. It is the kind of purity
a pre-requisite for the growth of Remember that your spouse is and trustworthiness from which
any relationship. However, honesty imperfect, just like you. At some the deepest kinds of passion flow.”
must be coupled with love, commit- point, your mate will fail you in some
ment, forgiveness, and grace to way. But nothing in a relationship
listen to and to deal with the truth. will permanently destroy it if

Resolving Conflict In Marriage

Resolving conflicts the sin in the life of the mate should your early dating days. But in the
is not a "one-size-fits-all" proposi- do so without being judgmental, close proximity of the marriage
tion. There are different kinds of but without minimizing the sin relationship, those faults are bound
conflict and proper ways to handle either. At all times, couples need to to surface. When they do, it is im-
each. Most conflict in marriage is deal with the sin as a team fighting portant to accept your mate's im-
not about right and wrong, so it for what they value in the marriage. perfections, and recognize that
is often counterproductive to focus “The best thing that anyone can do they are not sins, but perhaps areas
on who's right and who's wrong. in the face of the sin of a spouse is to where maturity is needed. Be honest
What is important is identifying demonstrate the same attitude God with your spouse about these prob-
the type of conflict you are having has toward someone who sins: ‘Be lems, communicate your support
so you can work together toward kind and compassionate for one ano- to your spouse, and humbly recog-
re-solution. Most conflicts fall into ther, forgiving each other, just as in nize your own areas of immaturity.
one of these six categories. Christ God forgave you’” And work together to develop a
(Ephesians 4:32). plan of action for overcoming the
Conflict #1: difficulties.
Sin of One Spouse Conflict #2: Conflict #3:
In this type of conflict, there Immaturity or
is a definite right and wrong. In
this case, the spouse who confronts
Brokenness of One Hurt Feelings That
the sin must consider his or her at- Person
Are No One’s Fault
Every person has areas of sen-
If you "fell in love," you prob-
titude carefully, remembering that sitivity; innocent comments and
humility and grace are essential for ably idealized and overlooked the
faults of your sweetheart during actions often result in pain.
healing. The spouse who confronts
continued on page 7
continued from page 6
Conflict #5: affect the course of conflict resol-
Desires of One ution~the issue itself and the atti-
“What is important is that we Versus the Needs tudes of the people who must deal
learn how to deal with the kind of with the issue. If the attitudes of
hurt where no one is really wrong.” of the Relationship the people dealing with the conflict
There are times when one are good, usually the issue itself
Here are some hints for work- spouse desires something that puts
ing through this kind of hurt: will not be a problem. But when
a stress on the relationship. A spouse bad attitudes prevail, the problem
1. When you are hurt, acknow- may desire to go back to school is compounded.
ledge it to yourself. Don't ig- or relocate for a job. In such cases,
nore how you feel. the husband and wife must decide Those who see their problems,
2. Communicate your hurt to together what course of action to seek to solve them, and accept
your spouse, but don't blame take. Ultimately, you must strike limits are boundary-lovers. Those
your spouse for it. It is your a balance between prioritizing the who resist change, refuse limits of
reaction that is the problem. relationship and meeting the needs any kind, and deny their own faults
3. If you are the one whose of the partners. The marriage re- are boundary-resistant.
innocent actions have caused lationship must never be subser-
pain, empathize with your vient to the desires of only one A person's attitude toward
spouse, and don't devalue or spouse, but if both spouses are boundaries will dictate the methods
minimize the pain. growing through individual pur- that will be effective for resolving
4. Know what hurts you and suits, the marriage itself will grow conflict.
work proactively to avoid stronger as well.
being hurt in the future.
5. Pursue healing so that your “In the end, the Resolving Conflict
sensitivity will stop interfering marriage benefits as with a Boundary-
with your life and relationships. Loving Spouse
6. Remember that there is no each member grows.
right or wrong here, and thus But keep it A boundary-loving spouse
no judgment to be cast; guard in balance, is open to the truth, to his or her
against the temptation to making sure that spouse's freedom, to responsibility,
"go to court." and to love. Thus, the path to con-
the marriage flict resolution is easier because
gets served first.” both partners have the same goals
Conflict #4: for the relationship and can work
Conflicting Conflict #6: together through the conflict. As
an overall strategy, conflict resolu-
Since marriage is the union Known Versus tion with a boundary-loving spouse
of two complete persons, there will Unknown must begin with observation and
be times when a husband and a In many ways, your spouse confrontation. You cannot fix what
wife desire different things for their may know you better than you you cannot see or discuss. To deal
relationship. When this occurs, a- know yourself. To grow as an indi- with the problem, ownership, grief,
void making your preference the vidual and as a spouse, you should and apology are necessary. If you
only right choice, treating your be open to hearing what your have caused the problem (or con-
spouse poorly for disagreeing. Em- spouse can tell you about yourself. tributed to it), you must own your
brace the way that your spouse Covenant with each other that role in the conflict. Confess and
thinks and acts differently from the you will be honest and open with apologize for any hurt you have
way you do. In fact, remember one another. When your spouse caused, and extend forgiveness for
that your differences are a part of pain you have suffered.
what attracted you to each other. con-fronts you, do not be defen-
Make every effort to meet your sive. Accept the feedback and learn
spouse's desires before you meet from it. Above all, be gracious to After you identify your part
your own. (You may find that you each other, remembering that nei- in the problem, you must repent
grow and expand your horizons as ther of you is perfect, and that and commit to change. Recognize
a result of trying the things your change takes time. that problems do not go away im-
spouse prefers.) Weigh your mo- mediately, so allow time for change.
tives, confirming that you desire Conflict But be active in the process of
what you do for right reasons. If seeking growth, and establish a
an agreement still cannot be reached, Resolution plan that will force you to make
record who gets his or her way, In any situation of conflict, sure that the problem will be held
and take turns being the decision there are two major elements that in check.
continued on page 8
continued from page 7 point of view, and that you
want to accept the truth in
Resolving Conflict

his or her viewpoint.


with a Boundary- 5. Love your spouse. Communi-


cate that your goal is the re-

Resistant Spouse storation of a loving relation-
A boundary-resistant person ship that is being hindered
refuses to acknowledge any wrong- by the crossing of boundaries.
doing and will not accept correc- 6. Earn the right to ask your Volume 2, Number 35
tion or feedback. The basic attitude spouse to change by admitting Publisher
of someone who resists boundaries how you are contributing to David A. Martin
is this: "I should be able to do what- the problem and deliberately Editors
ever I want to do in life." Ultimate making changes in yourself~ Michael & Cheryl Chiapperino
free-dom is the highest value for even if your spouse does not
such a person. But boundaries dic- change. Published on the World Wide Web at
tate that you cannot do what you 7.
Make clear and specific requests
want all of the time. for change. The mission of Christian Book
When confronting someone 8. Be patient with your spouse Summaries is to enhance the ministry
who violates boundaries, remember and give him or her time to of thinking Christians by providing
that sometimes ignorance is the change. thorough and readable summaries
of noteworthy books from
cause. Your spouse may be crossing 9. If your spouse persists in
Christian publishers.
your boundaries without knowing violating boundaries, establish
it. Always approach the issue from deliberate, reality-based, en-
this perspective first. If your spouse forceable consequences which The opinions expressed are
accepts the feedback and repents, will eliminate any benefit your those of the original writers
spouse receives from crossing and are not necessarily those
the conflict will already be on the of Christian Book Summaries
road toward resolution. But if your boundaries. These consequences
should be designed to protect or its Council of Reference.
spouse resists, prayerfully consider
these steps: you and preserve your spouse's
freedom, while encouraging The Authors: Dr. Henry Cloud and
1. Gather around you a circle him or her to change. Conse- Dr. John Townsend are popular speak-
of godly friends from whom quences should be immediate, ers, licensed psychologists, co-hosts of
you can draw emotional appropriately-severe; they the nationally-broadcast New Life Live
support during the time of should not be humiliating. radio program, and co-founders of
conflict with your spouse. Design them to be modified Cloud/Townsend, Inc. Both graduates
as your spouse grows and of Rose-mead Graduate School of Psy-
2. Make sure you are right with chology, they maintain private practices
God and growing closer to changes.
in Newport Beach California. They are
Him. 10. Warn your spouse before im- best-selling coauthors of several books,
3. Identify the specific issue plementing limits and conse- including Boundaries.
that is the source of conflict. quences.
Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry
What boundary is being vio- 11. Follow through. If you don't,
Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, copyright
lated? How does this viola- you are just nagging~an inef- C 1999 by Henry Cloud and John Town-
tion affect you and your love fective substitute for real send. Summarized by permission of the
for your spouse? Is this a boundaries. publisher, Zondervan Publishing House,
pattern or a rare occurrence? 12. Observe and evaluate over 5300 Patterson Ave. Southeast, Grand
4. Demonstrate to your spouse time, making changes in Rapids, MI 49530. 255 pages. $19.99.
that his or her feelings are boundaries or consequences ISBN 0-310-22151-X. Available at your
important to you, that you as necessary. favorite bookstore or by calling
want to understand his or her CB 1-800-727-3480.