Last week, in Part 2, we talked about what healthy boundaries look like in all kinds of different types of relationships, and that includes boundaries for our spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. If you haven’t listened to Part 1 or 2 yet, friend, go do that first. Because I give some important definitions in Part 1, and some examples of what would be considered violations of boundaries in our lives spiritually, physically, and emotionally in Part 2. And then, in Part 2, we dove into what setting healthy boundaries in friendships looks like, and you don’t want to miss that.
So, in this episode, we’re going to wrap-up, talking about what setting healthy boundaries in dating and romantic relationships looks like, as well as how to set healthy boundaries within our relationships with our family members. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to have to revisit this topic again sometime in the future, because there’s just so much to explore - especially in these last two areas.
Okay, let’s look at setting healthy boundaries in Dating and Romantic relationships. In new dating relationships, boundaries are critical. You are setting the tone for how you will be treated later, and the behavior you are willing to accept. But here’s the deal: You have to decide first how you are willing to be treated. You have to decide first if you’re going to have the type of relationship that glorifies and honors God, or are you going to have one that yields to your fleshly desires. You have to decide first who you want to be and how you want to act. And I would say that should come first, before you ever get into a dating relationship. That’s why in episode 37, Part one of this Boundaries series, I talked about setting spiritual boundaries that help protect your relationship with God. Putting Him first, His desires, His ways, help you to be able to set clear and concise boundaries around dating. God says your body is a temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” He says that you are His beloved (in Romans 9:25) and no one should take His place in your heart (Exodus 20:3).
Okay, let me talk frankly to some of my single listeners. Boundaries in dating or romantic relationships protect not only your physical body from consequential things like pregnancy and STDs (Yep, I said it), but also protect you emotionally. Emotional soul ties are created through sexual intimacy with partners. Setting clear, unwavering boundaries in romantic relationships protects you from devastating heartbreak, as well as any opportunity for emotional abuse. Oh, and there’s so much more we could say here.
But, a lot of times we find that we’ve allowed someone to cross our boundary because we are full of fear - fear of losing a relationship, fear of rejection, and fear of abandonment.
Have you ever thought:
· I am no one if I’m not in a relationship. or
· I will do anything to keep my significant other from leaving me.
· I spend all my time in my partners’ goals, interests, and activities and not mine
· If I just act better I know he/she will stick around.
· This relationship isn’t that great, but I’ll just stick it out. That’s better than being alone.
Friend, Healthy boundaries include:
· Making room for your own dreams, interests, and needs
· Believing you’re okay just the way you are
· Knowing that you don’t need another person to make you complete or whole
· Letting go of needing to be needed , and
· Refusing to change just so someone will like you
Friend, you will compromise your personhood if you’re afraid of being alone. You will come to rely on your partner for your happiness, and to define your value and worth if you are not spending time with God and getting it from Him. When you’re getting your identity from another person or from your relationship, you’ve lost your agency – your personal identity.
Because, the Bible says in Psalm 139 that God created you – that He knitted you together in your mother’s womb, and He said that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He made you uniquely and individually. You are perfectly and wonderfully whole, valuable, and worthy just as you are today. But even if you’ve heard that or read that in the Bible before, you will only truly know and receive it as fact if you’ve sat with God and let Him pour His love over you - Let Him tell you how valuable and lovely He thinks you are. When you put healthy boundaries around your relationship with God, and don’t let anyone else get in the way, you will know this as fact! And you will protect this truth at all cost.
Now, we’re going to talk about setting healthy boundaries around relationships within families. I saved it for last because, honestly, I think it’s the hardest. Afterall, you can pick your friends and even your significant other, but you don’t get to pick your family. And, oof, that can be a tough one. So, let’s dig into this one gently.
Some families are very healthy, and some are very dysfunctional. And some others are a little of both.
So, here are some examples of what it would look like in a family where healthy boundaries were recognized by all family members. In this family,
· Everyone allows for others’ opinions or points of view – even if and especially if they’re not the same as yours.
· Everyone listens and considers another person’s needs, putting those first.
· Everyone makes room for every person to have a ‘voice’ to be heard.
· Everyone respects personal privacy.
· Everyone speaks kind and encouraging words to each other.
· And lastly, everyone finds ways to honor one another in love.
Ok, who is this family? It’s not the Simpsons, right? The Kardashians? How about the Duck Dynasty family? They’re a Christian family? Do they act like this all the time? Does your family act like this? I can tell you mine didn’t. Not growing up, and not the one where I raised three children, either.
And honestly, I’m not trying to make light of the fact that families tend to cross or ignore boundaries set by one another. But I will tell you it is normal. But that doesn’t mean we should not set healthy boundaries with our family members. And if you’re the head of a household and you get to set the tone or even the rules of the house, let me encourage you, set these expectations - how this example family behaves when respecting each other’s boundaries - set this as the standard of what you expect from all the members in your family. That’s setting a healthy boundary around your entire family unit. That’s healthy! And to you individually, I want to say, you have a right to speak up, no matter what your age, and let your needs be known. Again, you have agency, and that means that you are responsible for taking care of and protecting your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Friend, so what if you’re like me and you’ve gone all this time in your life without any real, concrete boundaries? But you’re feeling like this is exactly what you need to do. Now!
I want to tell you that you have the right at any time to begin constructing, creating, establishing, and enforcing healthy boundaries in all areas of your relationships. Even if you’ve previously given over the authority of your agency – your individuality – to someone else, you can take it back. Right now. You are responsible for you. No one else. You get to say.
Boundaries are there to serve us, to protect us, to keep us safe. It is important for every individual to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in all of the different types of relationships in our lives. Setting healthy boundaries allows us to get close to others when it is appropriate and to maintain our distance when we might be harmed by getting too close. Boundaries protect us from abuse and pave the way to achieving true intimacy - God’s way. And, setting healthy boundaries is the most loving thing we can do in order to take care of ourselves – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.