Having Boundaries

Having Boundaries I have heard it said before that in relationships, we train the other person how we are to be treated. That is at least partly true. Beyond what we tolerate or accept, how we are treated also relates to the other person’s personality and habits. But yes, what we tolerate has a definite role in how the other person treats us. We are regularly told by general authorities to treat our spouses with kindness, love, and consideration. That is a good rule of thumb and a default position. However, what about when we act kind and loving but the other person doesn’t reciprocate? Even worse, what if the other person still acts hurtful, disrespectful, even abusive to us? Is giving even more and more kindness and love the answer? No. Kindness and consideration then need to change into what we in the therapy profession call “boundary setting”.

Definition of Boundaries:

A boundary is a limit set against how someone else is acting. This typically involves saying no to stop how someone is acting (or failing to act) in some negative, harmful, or hurtful way. When a boundary is set, the other person receiving the boundary will commonly be unhappy or upset because they won’t like being told no or being put in their place. They may even throw a temper tantrum out of embarrassment or frustration. Yet their respect for the other person setting the boundary will increase, nevertheless. Why? Because, somewhere inside the person receiving the boundary knows inside that their bad actions requiring the boundary were wrong and that they wouldn’t put up with that kind of treatment from someone else.

To set a boundary is something that is supported in our church, though some people may not understand that. For instance, in the New Testament were learn the following from Jesus: Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
--Matthew 22:35-40

When Christ says to “love thyself”, that means, treat yourself well and don’t allow others to mistreat you. Also, require others to treat you with a minimal level of respect and civility, always. That is loving yourself. To elaborate on this scripture and the need to set boundaries against mistreatment, we also learn the following from this general conference quote:

If charity is not always quick to our understanding, it may occasionally be quick to our misunderstanding. It is not charity or kindness to endure any type of abuse or unrighteousness that may be inflicted on us by others. God’s commandment that as we love him, we must respect ourselves, suggests we must not accept disrespect from others. It is not charity to let another repeatedly deny our divine nature and agency. It is not charity to bow down in despair and helplessness. That kind of suffering should be ended, and that is very difficult to do alone. There are priesthood leaders and other loving servants who will give aid and strength when they know of the need. We must be willing to let others help us.
-- Aileen H. Clyde, “‘Charity Suffereth Long’,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 76

Setting Boundaries:

To set a boundary, use a firm (yet civil) tone of voice, don’t repeat yourself or argue with the other person, and follow through with the stated consequence immediately.

A decent and simple outline to set a boundary is as follows:

1) --I need you to ________
--You need to _________
(the negative thing the other needs to stop doing)

2) --Otherwise, _________
--And if not, _________
--And if you don’t, _________
(the consequence that will happen if they don’t stop the bad thing they are doing; usually involving withdrawing or withholding yourself in some way)

Final Thoughts:

The problems in life come at the extremes. When we are too nice too often and tolerate mistreatment, we let the other person know how they are acting is somehow acceptable, and the mistreatment usually continues. Therefore, it is important to put a stop to such treatment immediately and consistently. Setting boundaries is healthy and necessary. It requires being willing to be in the role of “the bad guy” because the other person will be unhappy and react as you stand up against how they are acting. Well, remember that they are the ones out of line, not you for putting a stop to their actions. Don’t buy into someone twisting it around and trying to make you feel like you are the problem. Say no, put a stop to mistreatment, and be OK with the other reacting to it. Such boundary setting is essential in healthy relationships, although this topic is rarely discussed in church settings. Doing so will help your relationships be healthy, happy, and last over time. And remember that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Dr. G
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at drgilchrist@yahoo.com.

2024-01-13 Randy Gilchrist Dating

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to drgilchrist@yahoo.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to drgilchrist@yahoo.com).