Recently a friend and I were discussing the divorce epidemic, and how it seems many people are justifying divorce without proper cause.
Both men and women are taking Dr. Henry Cloud’s teaching on boundaries out of context, and the results are devastating. I do believe there are times where divorce is inevitable, but I’m addressing something different, here.
I can’t put the dilemna into better words than he did, so I’m going to revise his words a bit and share them anonymously (with permission).
“Dr. Henry Cloud’s boundaries have their place, but people start misapplying these principals, and it’s comparable to deciding to get chemo and radiation treatments when you need a much less aggressive or invasive treatment.
So many people are taking that teaching and saying things like, ‘I’ve been telling my husband I need help around the house for years. He always apologizes and promises to help more, but it only lasts for a couple of weeks. Then he slips back into the usual. I can’t handle these broken promises, continual apologies, yet no lasting change. If he loved me, he’d change and help me more around the house. I deserve better. I’m putting up boundaries; no contact, no connection until I see lasting change. I’m so hurt, maybe I should even separate from him until he sees what he has and changes for good.’
Then enters some man showing kindness, attention, money, etc. They are already disconnected and the grass looks greener to her. Boom—marriage done.
It’s like all the “You deserve to be happy” and “It’s your time for you” folks grabbed that boundaries teaching and boxed it into a “mental health” box with pretty new wrapping paper on it, and started selling their same old secular, selfish-minded philosophy in a way that opens minds to a deceptive way of thinking.
In my opinion, it is hell’s new form of psychological warfare on believers.”
“Mic-Drop” was all I could think when I read this.
For some years, I’ve been hesitant to share parts of my story because I didn’t want people to take what I say, run with it, and keep hollering the “Stand up for yourself” cry.
But I also saw the other side of the planet where women can’t say anything without being told they’re not submissive enough. This was me. This is many, many women—and it is for these women that I write.
On the other hand, there are many men and women who take truth and twist it into self-serving, humanistic approaches to gain what they want by taking the easy way out of a marriage that has issues to work through. For these men and women, I write this caution.
Emotional health and mental clarity will never come from selfishly applying boundaries to good-hearted spouses with needs you don’t like. Your health will come from obeying Jesus and loving your spouse as you love yourself.
My parents are still married after forty-three years, not because my father fills all my mother’s emotional needs, or because my mother fills all my father’s needs. They are still married because love and commitment over-ride an entitled view of themselves that would make them ditch each other for “something better”.
Their home is established on more than unmet needs; it is established on the Word of God, the God who promises to be more than they will ever need. With grace, they love each other and help each other grow. With even more grace, they accept each other’s flaws and choose to keep loving–whether or not the other changes.
I signed my divorce papers for one thing only—and that was my husband’s ongoing affair with a minor child almost the same age as our oldest daughter. Today, the girl is pregnant and they are still together, albeit not legally married.
Hear me carefully when I say there were many things I could have divorced him over. I had no lack of “reasons” I could have used. But I refused to sign divorce papers until it became undeniably clear that there was no other way.
I am divorced with a good conscience. My plea to everyone out there is this: love your spouse, stay with your spouse for better or for worse unless it is simply impossible and your spouse’s sin meets the criteria for divorce as said in the scriptures. Don’t take this teaching on boundaries to mean you can put up walls for everything hurtful in your marriage. You will not heal your heart like this; you will hurt your soul, your spouse, and your children. You will be selfish, refusing to love until your own needs are met. This is not the way of the cross.
In God’s kingdom, the way up is the way down. Get on your knees, ask God how you can love your spouse best, and learn what specifically speaks love to him/her.
Somewhere along the way you will be surprised with inner soul freedom that is so much greater than you’d experience if you quit and ran for something you thought was better.
It won’t be better.
Every good marriage has at least one partner who is willing to love extravagantly even when the other does not deserve it.
My challenge for all of you today is this: take your spouse’s faults and choose to love extravagantly, anyway. Give 100%. Love the person you once fell in love with, and love them hard. Find out what makes your particular spouse feel loved, and just do it, without question.
What speaks love to your spouse may be entirely different than what speaks love to you. Study your spouse, ask questions, and go all out for the growth of your marriage.
You will never regret it!
Stay faithful, and God will faithfully clarify your thoughts, bring healing to your soul, and help you grow—even if your spouse’s faults continue.
Never give up unless, as in my own case, your marriage is no longer possible. Cheers to all beautiful, committed souls who grow, grow, and grow a marriage!
2 thoughts on “Keeping Emotional Clarity: Don’t Run with the Boundaries Concept (Part Three)”
Oh I love this, Sara. It is balanced and beautiful.
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From a husband, thank you. This is a freedom-giving challenge for us all, for God’s glory!
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