Last week we explored the roots of codependency – the unhealthy pattern of relating to our close friends and family. Today the series on codependency narrows the focus on boundaries – a protective limit that makes all the difference.
In codependent relationships people can experience emotional, physical, or mental abuse because there are no established boundaries in place.
Draw the line
Think of a boundary like the fence around your home. The fence prevents a neighbor from building a shed in your backyard. It can keep out dogs and deter burglars.
Just as a fence keeps uninvited invaders onto your space, it also keeps you on your own property. The fence stops your children from running out into the street. It shows you how far to mow the lawn or rake the leaves.
The fence marks the line of where your responsibility lies. And where it does not.
Likewise setting a boundary in relationship can:
- Show the difference between your business and none of your ‘beezwax.’
- Prevent someone from hurting you – emotionally, verbally or physically.
- Establish healthy relationship patterns.
Steps to setting boundaries & an example:
- In prayer, ask God to give you the courage and wisdom to set a healthy boundary.
- Identify a specific boundary – I do not wish to be interrupted when I’m speaking.
- Craft what the consequence should be if/when someone crosses this boundary – the first time I will identify the offence and state the boundary, and the second time I will leave the conversation.
- Communicate the boundary and the consequence of breaking the boundary during a peaceful moment (not while in conflict) – I do not like to be interrupted when I am speaking. If you interrupt me, I will stop talking and leave the room.
We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you.
2 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
Toe the line
Once you’ve set and established your boundary(ies) with someone, you have to stick with them. If someone crosses your boundary and interrupts you, then follow through with the consequence your promised. If you don’t, you’re sending the message that ‘it’s okay to interrupt me whenever you want.’
Likewise, setting the boundary of time is important. Serving on every committee at your church is probably not how God wants you to use all your time. Agreeing to do tasks for others without considering if you have enough hours in the day to complete it AND the other obligations on your plate, isn’t wise.
Setting and honoring your boundaries may, at first, seem like the world will collapse or that everyone will abandon you. It won’t. They won’t. Though you may meet a little resistance at first while your partner learns how to better interact with you, your relationship will be better for it.
Thankfully there are a good deal of resources available that can help you better understand boundaries. Some of my favorites are:
Today, I challenge you to follow the steps to setting one boundary. Start with something simple like capping the tube of toothpaste – not a burning conflict with dire consequences.
See what happens… I dare you!
Order your copy of Dare to Respect and enjoy the journey of 6 wives who consider their own boundaries in marriage.