Adults who are in significant relationships are meant to be equals and share the reality of who they are in a spirit of mutuality. Some people, however, do not want to be equals. They prefer being ‘one-up’ on the other person. They want to be in more of a parent-child type of connection where they are in charge. They have expectations for the other to be in subjection to them in some way, and are dominating in their style.
This type of “I know better” stance blocks love in a horrible way. There are a lot of “you shoulds,” that dominate the person’s thinking. They freely tell the other person how to think, live, be and what to do. The person who is “under” feels belittled, controlled, dominated and disrespected. Eventually this type of connection produces problems because the ‘one-down’ person resents the dominating one and seeks independence. Jesus said, we are to all be equals putting no one on a parental pedestal. “Don’t ever let anyone call you ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.” (Matthew 23:8,9)
Boundary problems are usually seen in someone’s inability to either say “no,” or hear “no” from others. When we have these kinds of disturbances, we either allow people to walk all over us in a way that damages respect, or we walk all over them and “trespass” against them. In the process, love is destroyed. True love respects each other’s boundaries, saying “no” when we need to, and accepting ‘no’ when we hear it.
Another aspect of boundaries has to do with requiring responsible behavior from each other in a relationship and taking a stand against evil when it occurs. True love cannot grow when evil is allowed to triumph. When we have the boundaries to “abhor what is evil,” and take a stand against it, we preserve the good in a relationship and help it to grow by solving problems.
Are you in a difficult relationship? For help with boundaries and other relational issues we encourage you to attend our Weekend Workshops. You’ll laugh, learn, and by God’s grace, be transformed.