Relationship Boundaries – Part 1

Hi, everybody!  Today we are going to be talking about boundaries with my friend Dani.  I’ve been keeping track of Dani’s blog, God In Real Life for a while now, and there’s some great stuff in there. What Dani’s been writing about recently, has impacted me, because the topic has been about boundaries. So today, we’re going to talk about boundaries, what they are and why they’re important. I think I didn’t really know as much as I needed to about how to live life with good boundaries. I’m constantly learning about boundaries and reading over Dani’s stuff and hearing her thoughts has been pretty important for me as a mom and a wife.

Dani, thanks for being part of our first collaboration. It’s kind of exciting, so thanks for being here. I want to start off with a general question, and that is what are boundaries and how do they work in relationships?

I think the simplest way to define boundaries is a property line. So boundaries are property lines over ourselves. They define who we are and, where we begin and where another person ends. So if you think physically of a house and a yard, it would be your fence around the yard. When you think about your life, it’s everything that is in your responsibility. You have your thoughts, your actions, your body, your mind, everything that’s in your control under your authority. So boundaries help to define what those things are in our authority under that realm.

Okay. So, what would be a good example of a boundary in a relationship? Any kind of relationship, friendship, marriage, whatever.

A really simple boundary would be like if you have issues in your marriage or in a relationship, where one person is not respecting you or even like yelling, or there’s abuse or something like that. A  simple boundary would be not controlling the other person, but controlling what you do in response to them. It’s like, Okay you have the freedom to yell at me, but when you do, I also have the freedom to walk away. I don’t have to stay in this conversation and allow you to treat me that way. I can leave. Or if I’m on the phone, if you talk to me that way, I will hang up.

It’s taking control of what’s in your power. You’re not telling someone, ‘Well, you can’t treat me that way’. It’s saying, when you do that, this is what I’m going to do. This is what is in my power — my authority, Right? Yeah, so this is my boundary. My boundary line says, ‘I don’t want to be treated that way. I can’t control you but I can control me, and I’m going to check out. I’m going to say goodbye and I’ll talk to you later.’ It’s that type of thing.

Okay… great. I think that in a way you actually just answered my next question, and that would be, why would I want them and why are they important? I think that you mostly answered that, but maybe another example of an important boundary would be helpful. Why would we want to have them? Maybe a different example, like with your husband or with a friend.

Yeah, it doesn’t always have to be like a volatile relationship or someone who’s disrespecting us outright. Boundaries are important even inside a good marriage, or with a good friendship. With my best friend, I still have to have boundaries. Sure, I love her. She’s amazing, she respects my boundaries, but I still need boundaries.

So an example of that would be, I don’t have to pick up the phone every time she calls me. I might be in the middle of homeschooling my kids or a date with my husband where, you know, I’m just… that’s not what’s most important. I’m not going to answer the phone at certain times, or I have to just let her know this is when I can talk and things like that. Because she’s amazing and she respects my boundaries, it doesn’t create any kind of rift between us. The benefits of boundaries would include freedom in your relationship, like you have the freedom to make decisions. You’re also giving your friends, your loved ones, the freedom to make their own decisions. That also cultivates more wholeheartedness in your relationships, where you’re free to love, not feeling obligated to. I’m not obligated to pick up the phone. She’s not going to get mad at me if I don’t pick up.

 So the fruit of that, is she knows when I do call her on the phone, when I do pick up the phone, when I am intentional about hanging out with her, she knows that I’m doing it because I want to, not that I feel obligated. She fully understands that. She knows that when I say yes, I’m saying yes with my whole heart. It definitely cultivates more love and freedom inside the relationship. Boundaries also just give us a sense of control over our lives, which may seem contrary to what Christians would want. Oh, you know, we’re not supposed to control our lives.

We give that control to God, but self-control is the fruit of the spirit and it’s important to know when we set boundaries, we’re not taking control back from God. We’re taking control back from the people that have taken it from us or that we’ve just given it to because we didn’t know any better. 

That was the story of my life before I understood boundaries. I thought, as a good Christian, I’m just supposed to say yes all the time. If somebody wants something, I have to give it to them. If somebody wants to come over, I have to open the door for them and it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I just have to say yes. I had given over control of my life, even parts of my marriage, my parenting, and my heart to other people. How can I freely give, if I’ve just handed those things over to other people?  

Yeah, so good!

Learning boundaries was a process of taking everything back… This is how I explain it to people. I’m like, this is mine. These are my kids. This is my marriage. This is my husband. I’m going to hold it here, behind my fence. These are my things, but not in a selfish way. I need to take this seriously, because these are things that God has given me authority over, and I cannot take that lightly. I cannot let other people take control of what is rightfully mine, because God has given me authority over these things. So it was this long process of learning what is mine, under my authority. For example, my body, my relationships, my home. Things that I just let people trample over for so long.

Another thing boundaries did for me is it got rid of a lot of my resentment. Whereas, before I thought I was loving people by just letting them come in. Allowing them to trample and thinking that was the loving thing to do.  I guess, in being a good Christian I’ll do this for you. Sure, you can come over whenever you want. That sort of thing. When I felt the freedom to make these decisions for myself, when I could say yes and have the freedom to say no, then I knew that if I was ever feeling resentful, it was my own fault.

It’s true. It was because I was not making the best decision for myself. I was saying yes when I really meant no. I think that I’ve had situations where I feel obligated because a boundary isn’t very well defined. In the back of my mind, there’s a bit of resentment because I don’t really want to be doing this, but I should be. Right? Yeah, but maybe not. I mean, maybe you shouldn’t be doing that.

I think that’s really good about the resentment because I think that sometimes it happens and you don’t even know why. But once you have your boundaries in order, if you’re feeling resentment, then that’s your problem. Versus, other people having chunks of you and you being resentful because you haven’t set up your boundaries very well. That’s so good. You think, don’t they know better? Don’t they know they can’t ask this of me? Why would they do that? These are some good answers.

Thank you so much for helping us… helping me through definitions of boundaries. I think that it’s really important, like I said earlier, for us to have and to understand them. Everybody talks about boundaries and it’s like, what does that actually mean in real life? So anyways, I appreciate you coming in and chatting with me about it. We’re going to go ahead and wrap up now, but I still have more questions. If you want to stay tuned, guys, in our next post, we’re going to do a part 2, where we ask a few more questions about boundaries. My favorite one is, what happens if someone gets mad? We’re going to have to handle that question. Thank you guys so much for reading today.

Dani’s blog is God in Real Life.  She has written a number of articles about boundaries.  You can find all of her boundaries articles here.

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Resources About Boundaries

Boundaries Series by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (affiliate links)

Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk

The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero






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