Fighting or distance in a relationship often occur because of a problem with separateness or boundaries. Just as every country and every state has a boundary and will fight to protect their own territory, so we each have personal boundaries. We need boundaries to protect us from intrusion and abuse. Boundaries prevent us from being controlled by others. We need this separateness.
Healthy boundaries protect us and should be maintained all the time. We need to keep our individual boundaries intact in our relationships. The State of
give up its boundary to Ohio yet both states
enjoy inter-state commerce. So, even in very close relationships we need to
keep our boundaries unbroken. Kentucky
Many of us grew up in homes where boundaries were damaged. Some of us grew up with no boundaries. Some of us have boundaries only part of the time or in certain situations. And some of us learned to put up walls instead of a boundary. If we have no boundaries we have no protection. We have trouble saying no. We expect others to be able to read our minds. We intrude on others space—giving advice without being asked, making decisions for others, or demanding they think as we do. We cling to others physically or emotionally.
Walls are a way to keep people out. They give us complete protection but prevent intimate connection with others. When couples have screaming fights they are putting up walls of anger. A wall of fear or a wall of silence is erected by people who are very withdrawn or isolated. They may run away if approached or give off a very cold message of “Leave me alone.”
If we have no boundary we will be hurt by criticism; we will feel defensive or guilty even when we have done no wrong. With a boundary we have time to think. We can stop the anger or the criticism from coming inside and hurting us. Imagining healthy boundaries will help you to develop them. You can imagine a black border around your body, like those around cartoon characters. Or you might think of a “force field” around you. Stop every request at this border and think about what you want. Do the same with criticism, deciding whether the person offering the criticism has a valid point or not.
Learn to keep your boundary intact even when your partner puts up a wall of anger or a wall of distance. Understand that he or she is doing this for protection. Then you won’t need to retaliate or intrude on his or her boundary. This alone may help your partner feel safe enough to let you get closer.
“Show respect to everyone.” 1 Peter NLT