Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

This is the first ‘boundaries’ book I have read and I must admit I found it very helpful.  On the one hand it has given me words and understanding for an aspect of Peter’s and my relationship that functions very much in keeping with what Cloud and Townsend teach and yet on the other hand it gave fresh insight into marital issues.

I think more often than not if we were to think about boundaries we think of it in terms of something that we insist the other person does (you are not allowed to do this to me) – this is not the message I got from reading this book.  It is more about taking responsibility for our own issues, for our own character growth and development.   One of the things I was challenged with is how often do I brew over something, being the martyr.  Reality is I am not living truth.  I am pretending everything is right when it is not, I am not speaking the truth when I say everything is okay when it is not, I emotionally withdraw instead of addressing the issue, and I find subtle ways to nag instead of being up front.

There is nothing that Peter does that makes me respond this way – it is my choice.  Will I be truthful in our relationship or not?  This is a blunt reminder – do we not say the same to our children?  No-one made you do that, it was your choice!

This book lists 10 different areas of our own inner life where we should take responsibility ourselves – regardless of what our spouse is doing:

  • Feelings
  • Attitudes
  • Behaviours
  • Choices
  • Limits
  • Desires
  • Thoughts
  • Values
  • Talents
  • Love

It is easy to blame whatever Peter is doing as a reason why my attitude is wrong, why I’m not doing the right thing, why I’m not making the right choices but reality is these aspects are my inner issues for which I am responsible – not Peter.

Another aspect of this book that struck me is how to address or communicate concerns over our marriage relationship.   We can come from a perspective that one of us has to be wrong and we will keep arguing until we come to a conclusion as to who it is – or I can take personal responsibility for my part in the difficulty and share my concerns with a desire to change and grow personally or to make our marriage stronger.   They also address how to approach your spouse when you do have something confrontational to share.  I felt several times that they had taken a peep into my heart as their examples and situations they talk about were very real.   But the heart of all their encouragements is to be able to build and strengthen your relationship, not to make one right and one wrong!

I thought this book well worth the read and would recommend it as a marriage help book.  My only qualification would be that you read the whole thing before you start demanding boundaries.  This book will make you look at yourself honestly as well as your relationship.

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