Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Our marriage at the 20-year mark looked okay on the outside but inside there was an issue that I had not had the courage to address. A boundary against angry words. I was so fearful of rejection I had let it go year after year. Sure, we had had some great times, but I found myself tip toeing around to avoid disharmony for the kids’ sake. But unresolved conflict in a family passes down from generation to generation. God was on my case to begin to stand tall as a godly woman, wife and mother for a peaceful and harmonious home.
Once I felt this was a God thing, next I had to examine the cost to me and the family to try to bring change. No one likes change and bringing this to the surface meant it could look a lot worse before it looked better. I call this World War III when preparing my clients for how bad things could become. Thinking a new boundary through is critical. For me at that time, I could have left things as they were, feeling disconnected, dishonoured and unhappy or I could stand up for what I felt was right. The worst-case scenario, in other words the cost, might mean our marriage.
I couldn’t do it alone, so I got some help from a trusted friend and supporter. She was praying and texting me during my World War III. Whilst it was terrible on one hand, on the other hand it was amazing to have her there for me. I believe we all need someone to believe in us and stand with us in our battles.
Deuteronomy 27:17 talks about the sin of trying to move others’ boundaries. In life this translates as others doing things that can cause us to feel unsafe, dishonoured or violated. If someone isn’t happy with the actions of another there needs to be an agreed common ground where both feel there is a safe, equal and a win-win environment. If it feels like win-lose it could mean one person doesn’t have a safe boundary in place.
The day I put in this boundary is imprinted in my memory. It looked bad, as bad as it could get. There was a possibility we wouldn’t stay together. I felt God lead me to say to my husband “I love you; I want to stay married, but I need this to be different for all of us so that our kids don’t reproduce our behaviour in their families one day!” I needed to own my bad behaviour too. I could be angry and demeaning and I needed to repent of that.
I hope I was kind, loving and firm. Rather than pointing the finger I was working towards love, grace and forgiveness. I didn’t back down! That week we had our pastor friend come and talk to us together and individually—more godly support. Thank God for a church family.
Our situation ended well because my husband is a kind, generous and gracious man. Like most men when feeling threatened (or nagged), higher testosterone levels can create a warrior response which may result in louder than normal words. My husband has learned to mitigate anger responses. I have learned to tread gently when testosterone increases and pick a calmer time to discuss a happier, more equitable win-win solution for both of us.
Here are some boundary tips:
1. Ask yourself and God: Is this a godly boundary or is this me wanting control? See James 4:10.
2. Count the potential cost: Be prepared and pray to God for strength, it might look worse before it looks better. See Philippians 4:13.
3. Get godly support: It’s invaluable. See Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10.
4. When you are ready and prayerfully prepared to put in your boundary, remain firm. If you back down, it will be much harder next time. See Matthew 5:37 & 1 Corinthians 16:13.
Further boundary verses: Proverbs 15:25, 25:17; Micah 7:11; Acts 17:26.
Believing for you
Love Peta XO
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