Boundary Issues in Marriage
This is part 5 of a 5-part series on Boundaries by Megan Coggins.
Read Part 1 (Boundary Issues with Family) here.
Read Part 2 (Boundary Issues with Friends) here.
Read Part 3 (Boundary Issues at Work) here.
Read Part 4 (Boundary Issues in Marriage) here.
It’s late, the kids are in bed, you are exhausted and just need a quiet moment to yourself. You walk into the kitchen promising to just eat one cookie this time as a way to treat yourself after a long, hard day. Before you know it you have consumed half of the bag of cookies and have moved on to starting to eat that favorite bag of chips sitting in the cupboard. How do you keep winding up in this position?
The man in the cubicle next to yours is going through a messy divorce and you hear most of his phone conversations due to his loud yelling at his ex-wife. After work you go out with a coworker for dinner, briefly mentioning this distraction and how it impacts your work productivity. You mean to just keep it about work, but you can’t help but dive into a few of the details you overheard.
Maybe you find yourself spending time on your computer or phone looking at pornography. You might feel isolated and ashamed of what you are doing, or maybe you see no harm. The problem becomes that your desire to view pornography only increases, which eventually can lead to isolation and a sense of hopelessness that you can’t stop your actions.
When we do not respect or know our needs and desires, we can begin operating blindly in life, hurting others and ourselves along the way. Overeating, gossiping, and pornography use are only a few examples of how we can have poor boundaries with ourselves. Willpower alone is not enough to create healthy boundaries with ourselves.
First off, it is vital to figure out what the symptoms of your lacking boundaries are. Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, or isolation? Next it is important to figure out what the root of the boundary problem is. Did something happen growing up that is impacting you or do you have unmet emotional needs? Then look to see what the boundary conflict is, take ownership, and then begin to address creating healthy boundaries while developing a trusting relationship with someone who can keep you accountable. This can be a friend, pastor, or counselor.
Cloud and Townsend in their book Boundaries, offer great insight into the grace that you will need to have for yourself while developing these healthy boundaries with yourself. They recognize the need for allowing yourself to fail, acknowledging the fact that you are a human! They also emphasize listening to empathic feedback from others who are supporting you and to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. You cannot do this alone!