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On Boundaries... #85395
03/23/11 05:19 PM
03/23/11 05:19 PM
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Mark1952 Offline OP
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Mark1952  Offline OP
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Boundaries

Maybe one of the most tossed about ideas in discussions of marriage, problems within marriage and families, the word gets so misunderstood so often that discussions about boundaries seem to permeate nearly every thread of those dealing with a marriage in crisis. This is a starting point to discuss boundaries in general or generic terms rather than how to apply them to our own lives. Feel free to add to the discussion or to seek clarification but try to limit the discussion to boundaries and not application to a particular situation.


Everybody has their own ideas of what a boundary should look like or what it is intended to accomplish for their lives. Poor boundaries are often mentioned as one of the reasons for an affair and also comes up in the discussion of how to deal with an affair by our spouse.

For me, the definitive definition of boundaries comes from the work of Doctors John Townsend and Henry Cloud and their original book Boundaries. A more recent book by the same authors is Boundaries In Marriage.

The original book did more to help me fight for my marriage than any other single book I read during those dark days when the outcome for my marriage was uncertain. It helped me to realize that what and who I was and what I would become was under my direct control while also showing me that what my wife might do was not under my control, though I might be able to influence her choices by protecting my own well defined boundaries. It gave me the understanding of what outcomes were within my control and let me learn to let go of outcomes that were not under my control.

So what are boundaries?

A boundary is NOT:


  • A line in the sand that when crossed results in the interloper being bludgeoned into retreat.
  • A method of getting what you want from someone else.
  • A way to control the actions of other people.
  • A punishment for violating our rights as individuals.
  • An expectation of what someone else will, might or should do or not do.
  • A wall that separates me from another person or all other people that prevents me from healthy interaction.
  • An excuse for me to act badly or fail to respect the boundaries of others.
  • A way to avoid conflict.


A boundary IS:

  • A definition of what is mine and what is not mine.
  • A declaration of what is within my realm of control or influence as to outcome.
  • A statement of what I will do or not do.
  • A protection for me by establishing what is mine and what belongs to someone else.
  • A way for me to be respected as an individual with rights that go with being one.
  • An indication of my own self worth, value and self esteem.
  • A way to deal with conflict that respects others and requires respect from them.


You choose your own boundaries but can never set a boundary for anyone else.

If a person violates YOUR boundary, YOU determine the outcome for violation but never the actions of the other person.

A good boundary is all about YOU and never about what anyone else does.

A boundary can't be a castle wall because folks who retreat inside of castles when under attack end up starving to death as the result of siege. The enemy attacks, tests defenses, finds weaknesses to exploit, and waits out the defenders until the outer defenses finally fail. Then the only recourse is further retreat to ever smaller defenses until you're left with a single tiny room in which you live out the rest of your days as the attackers simply wait for you to die.

Walls as boundaries result in ever smaller boundaries until real life becomes impossible. Poorly defined boundaries always result in violations by others since the boundary is neither clearly defined nor well established.

Good boundaries are like hedge rows between property lines. They do not prevent interaction or the free flow of movement from place to place for either those inside or those outside. They simply establish what is under the control of one person and what is not.

My neighbor can't set conditions for what I do within my boundaries and neither can I set conditions for what he will do within his own boundaries. If he violates my boundaries, the problem is not that I have weak boundaries but that he does not have strong boundaries.

A marriage in crisis can't be saved by good boundaries but it can't be saved without them. Boundaries aren't about changing the actions of our spouse. They only define what is mine and what is not. They tell me and the world, including my spouse, what belongs to me alone, what lies within, while allowing me to let go of trying to control the things that lie without.



mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Mark1952] #85402
03/23/11 05:43 PM
03/23/11 05:43 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 1,229
Ready2Change Offline
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Ready2Change  Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark1952
For me, the definitive definition of boundaries comes from the work of Doctors John Townsend and Henry Cloud and their original book Boundaries.
This is a very good book. I recommend everyone read it. Those with children should also read their other book Boundaries with Kids

The questions I ask myself frequently to clarify my boundary is:

"Where does my responsibility end and the other persons begin?" or "Who's responsibility is this?" or "How much is my responsibility?" or "Am I enabling irresponsible behavior?"

Coach has a great post on boundaries on the DB site:

Click here to go to the thread


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Mark1952] #85439
03/23/11 06:32 PM
03/23/11 06:32 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 1,220
Coach Offline
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Quote:
A marriage in crisis can't be saved by good boundaries but it can't be saved without them.


Agree. Boundaries 101 - 402 should be required reading.


You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end which you can never afford to lose with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Coach] #86129
03/24/11 06:25 PM
03/24/11 06:25 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,309
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LovingAnyway Offline
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Coach, Puppy, R2C...do you think you guys could make a guide using your combined posts from the thread you linked above? I really like the specific examples, which seem to me to take Mark's post even further.

I think the book recommendations could be at the end, too, R2C, as one comprehensive post, if you all permit your individual posts to be combined.

I'm thinking of Mark's "What are Boundaries" and the combined one from DB (my image) as "Boundaries at Work" or Implementing Boundaries.

Brainstorming here...not deciding. Would love to know what you think.

LA


The Paradoxical Commandments

Married 28 years/Together 30
Recovered 10 years
MALovingAnyway@gmail.com
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: LovingAnyway] #86235
03/24/11 10:11 PM
03/24/11 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted By: Mark1952
This is a starting point to discuss boundaries in general or generic terms
Originally Posted By: LovingAnyway
make a guide using...Brainstorming here...not deciding. Would love to know what you think.


I think that distilling all the information into a "final post" is the goal to help others quickly gain insight.


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Ready2Change] #86238
03/24/11 10:16 PM
03/24/11 10:16 PM
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Ready2Change Offline
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Here is a simple boundary:

https://www.marriageadvocates.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php/topics/85993/#Post85993
Originally Posted By: Telly
...Anyway, I think that simpler is better. Best technique I ever learned was to simply say OUCH and walk away.


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Ready2Change] #86711
03/25/11 10:53 PM
03/25/11 10:53 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
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Originally Posted By: catperson
A boundary is about YOU. What YOU will accept in your life.

The other person is FREE to do whatever they want, but you have informed them what YOU will do if what THEY do oversteps your boundary, because you are protecting yourself.


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: LovingAnyway] #88894
03/30/11 11:44 PM
03/30/11 11:44 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 81
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Gaining Wisdom Offline
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Originally Posted By: LovingAnyway
Coach, Puppy, R2C...do you think you guys could make a guide using your combined posts from the thread you linked above? I really like the specific examples, which seem to me to take Mark's post even further.

I think the book recommendations could be at the end, too, R2C, as one comprehensive post, if you all permit your individual posts to be combined.

I'm thinking of Mark's "What are Boundaries" and the combined one from DB (my image) as "Boundaries at Work" or Implementing Boundaries.

Brainstorming here...not deciding. Would love to know what you think.

LA
I would love to see this! I'm new and still learning - there is so much valuable information here! I would love to see a guide for boundaries. I'm having some trouble understanding the difference between walls and boundaries. I'll have to pick up the book as well.

Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Gaining Wisdom] #89294
03/31/11 10:54 PM
03/31/11 10:54 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 1,229
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https://www.marriageadvocates.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php/topics/88898/#Post88898
Originally Posted By: TimeHeals
I always figured good boundaries are mostly about taking responsibility for your own self, your own emotions, treating people with respect, not allowing somebody to continually disrespect you, and generally knowing which stuff is yours and which stuff is theirs, and things like that.

Most of the time when I get the impression that somebody has poor boundaries it is because they are openly disrespectful, put themselves in compromising situations, are manipulative, or they do the codependent pleaser/martyr thing, or they expect people to cater to their whims, or they tell people what they ought to feel and those kind of things.


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Ready2Change] #89749
04/02/11 02:04 AM
04/02/11 02:04 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
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LadyGrey Offline
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I totally don't get the boundaries thing because, to me, it comes down to if/then. Doesn't matter how you dress it up.

And if/then is a threat.

I know I'm not doing this right because all of my boundary enforcements have resulted in removing people from my life entirely. And I have about run out of people to remove (my husband has been very helpful in using the Affair Broom to sweep people out of my life).

So he's gone hunting again and if I speak to anyone besides my son this weekend, I'll be seriously surprised.

Academically, I know I'm not getting boundaries.

I'm flummoxed.


Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: LadyGrey] #89824
04/02/11 01:48 PM
04/02/11 01:48 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
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Mark1952  Offline OP
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LG,

You see, your perception of boundaries is exactly what I am trying to get folks to see as not being about boundaries at all, but rather about control. Specifically, it is about controlling someone else and that is not about personal boundaries.

Boundaries have nothing to do with punishing someone for doing something, including crossing your boundaries. The boundaries themselves are what defines what belongs to you and what does not.

Enforcing boundaries might be seen as a threat, but the first enforcement necessary is always to identify your own boundaries so that you don't feel threatened by everything outside of your control. Once you actually take control of your own life, and stop allowing others to define you, you will find that others violate their own boundaries much more often than they violate yours. Knowing what you are in control of and what you are responsible for and refusing to take on more of either can be such a freeing experience. It removes the responsibility for how others feel, act and act out.

Lizzy is afraid of everything. So she has created this glass box she lives in. She sees the outside world but does not participate in it. She is fed, warm and cozy inside the box, but feels trapped because she sees the outside world and knows there can be so much more to experience. Yet whenever she is allowed to venture outside of the box, she feels threatened by everything, because she hasn't lived in a clearly defined world of identifying threats and learning to see them before they place her in immediate danger. She is so used to living in that box with high protecting walls between her and the rest of the world that she doesn't detect threats until they are upon her. Her boundaries have gotten to be so tight and so unseen that until she is actually being attacked, she isn't even aware of the threat to her safety.

So as she ventures into the world, on short trips with little purpose beyond exploration of the unknown, she finds that everything she sees and encounters is a potential threat. She sees any movement or sound that she detects as a threat because she has never experienced such things outside of her glass box and so doesn't know that the cricket might be actual food and not some monster coming to inflict harm. She doesn't understand that the large animal, almost too tall to see all of from her perspective is in fact the source of her food and protection because all she has ever seen of him is his hand as it brings food and water into her glass walled world.

If she could just learn to distinguish between imminent danger and a threat far off in the distance that can be avoided by changing her direction before it is upon her, she'd feel safer, more in control of her own life. She might also learn that there are some threats that only require her to raise the skin around her neck, puff out her chest and hiss threateningly for it to back away. The problem she has is that she responds that way to everything she sees as a threat and because she hasn't yet established a clearly identifiable perimeter that takes into account the actual threat level, her response is always immediate and final, even chasing away those things that might be of benefit to her in the long run.

And when she has been frightened enough for the day and the stress of having to remain on constant guard, driving away all who approach in case one might be a predator, she scurries back to her glass box, where she knows she will be safe and secure and where someone will provide her with all she needs to survive. Once there, she sits and looks at the world around her, longs to experience so much more but because she can't identify her own safe zone under most circumstances, she only feels genuinely safe inside her walls of glass.

If only Lizzy could learn to identify what has the potential to inflict immediate harm before it was upon her, she might be able to change colors warning away the potential threat before raising her ruff and hissing is her only defense. But that would require that she teach the threat what her colors mean and it is simply too dangerous to try to live life that way. Perhaps she could change colors to blend into her surroundings more completely so she wouldn't be seen herself, but alas, that would require constantly being aware of her surroundings and learning to recognize a real threat long before it could surprise her.

It's just so much safer to go back inside that two foot box where things are under her control, or at least where she knows what to expect...

Boundaries are not about "If you ___, then I will retaliate by doing ___." Boundaries are actually about "This is what I have under my control, and outside of this control is not mine to control, be responsible for, to defend or to defend against."



It's so much easier and less fraught with fear to simply retreat inside those glass walls and avoid having to set a viable perimeter. Just let someone else control everything outside the box.

Until the glass walls begin to feel like a prison again...



mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Mark1952] #93888
04/13/11 04:55 PM
04/13/11 04:55 PM
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The way I get over the then/if thing is to really think only about me....I just think about what I want from life, who I am and what defines me and sometimes I even just do a double check on myself to make sure I'm not doing something with punishment in mind.

Boundaries I most have to enforce are with my mum - she can act the martyr and throw up guilt trips and practising them with her has been useful for my M. It is a relief not to feel that guilt anymore.

I don't want to hurt her (at times I have wanted to hurt J) I know how it feels to safely enforce a boundary with her and I can translate that into how I enforce boundaries with J.

With J I enforce to prevent fear and occasionally guilt.



Married 22years (this year) ~13y since dday(?)
DD17 DS14
Which way do you like yourself? ~ Stosny
Re: On Boundaries... [Re: Mark1952] #227900
04/28/12 05:28 AM
04/28/12 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted By: SpinFree
Originally Posted By: Jayne241
It is not "controlling" to have the boundary that you won't remain married to someone who wants to "explore other options." You aren't trying to control her. You are stating your boundary.


Truth.

Controlling would be trying to "arrange" things so that she can't go see him.

Controlling would also be trying to see him without her husband knowing.

Boundary means that she is completely free to see him and she understands the consequences of those actions.

SF


Everything is an opportunity. There is no failure. You either learn or you succeed.

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