Boundaries in Marriage

Boundaries in Marriage

by Henry Cloud & John Townsend


– Boundaries help us determine where something begins or something ends. Boundaries also help us determine ownership as well as responsibilities. Boundaries also Provide protection (to keep the bad out and the good in).


– 10 laws of boundaries:

1. The law of Sowing and Reaping.

– Our actions have consequences.

– The old saying that you hurt most the ones you love most is very true.

2. The law of Responsibility.

– The spouse has to feel responsible for the feelings of the other spouse.

– We are responsible to each other but not for each other. – Gal 6:2,5

3. Law of Power.

– You have the power to change yourself.

– Many times we do that which we do not want to, but we do have the power to change it.

– We have to take the beam out of our own eye first – Matthew 7:1–5

– We cannot change others, but we can influence them for the good.

4. Law of Respect.

– If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we have to respect their’s.

– Dying to your wishes and seeing things their way.

5. Law of Motivation.

6. Law of Evaluation.

– Sometimes we need to go through pain or rough times to learn a lesson.

– You must decipher if the pain leads to injury or it leads to growth… if to injury, than change, but if it leads to growth than bear the pain and learn.

7. Law of Proactivity.

– Proactive boundaries keep freedom.

– Proactive people deal with or face problems all the time, but they hold onto the love they have.

8. Law of Envy.

– Envy is focusing on what others have instead of what we have. Always comparing and looking at others.

– Adam and Eve felt envy in the garden of Eden when they had everything that they could want except for one thing… and they wanted that.

– Envy is miserable.

9. Law of Activity.

– This law states that we should take action and fix our problems instead of staying passive.

– It is taking initiative.

– Active people make many steaks and wise people learn from those mistakes.

– All that evil needs to abound is for people to do nothing.

10. Law of Exposure.

– Law of exposure states that we must be clear and talk about what our boundaries are. Your spouse should know where lines are drawn, but cannot know unless you talk about them.

– Problems can be resolved and even avoided when boundaries are exposed. When things are talked about, they can be agreed-upon.

– We must take responsibility for our own lives, we cannot shift the responsibility to others.

– Boundaries with ourselves are much more important than boundaries in our marriage.

– Anytime we put our eyes on our own good, we are taking our eyes off of our own need for love and forgiveness.

– You cannot make your spouse grow up, but you can’t let their immaturity avoid some of the consequences it brings.

– Our highest calling to our spouses is to love them, just like our highest calling as a Christian is to love God.

– We should not try to play God in our marriage – when we try to act like God, we fail to love our spouse because we are trying to fix them.

– We could not live in denial. We cannot say that we are without sin or problems – 1 John 1:8. The opposite of denial is confession.

– Thinking that the sun rises and sets on us is damaging and destructive to our marriage. We must give more of ourselves than we might be comfortable with.

– Marriage exposes our weaknesses and failures to our spouse.

– Love cannot grow in an environment of fear.

– We must respect our spouses “no”.

– Do not punish a bad decision.

– We should not use guilt to con or get our own way.

– The golden rule, Jesus’ words on treating others like we would want to be treated, is the answer to how the marriage should be ran.

– Spouses should complete and complement each other, making them better

– Mature spouses always think of the needs and feelings of the other person.

– Valuing your wife’s opinion does not mean that you cannot do it without him or her, it means you care and want to know what they think.

– Allow a person the freedom of being different

– Galatians 5:13–14

– If you try to control or restrict your spouse, your companionship is destroyed.

– We should remember that ultimately we have to respond to God for how we treat each other. Our marriage is more than just about our spouse, it is about our God as well.

– You may want to give into the temptation to ignore or not listen, snapback or not care, but remember that you must submit to God and do what he teaches and commands.

– God’s ways work and if you would just do them, your marriage will work as well.

– The Bible teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means you so deeply identify the feelings of your spouse that you identify her feelings as your feelings.

– Look past your behavior to the affects of your behavior.

– See your spouse as if you were him/her – would you want to be treated like that?

– Make a commitment to your spouse, enter into a covenant. God makes a covenant with us, that he would love us and never leave us. Hebrews 13:5.

– If someone is not committed in marriage, and if leaving is an option, then why try to work it out and go through the pain, isn’t it easier just to leave? Some do not leave physically, but they do leave emotionally… taking their heart out of it.

– A runner can not see the finish line when he’s only halfway through the race, but the commitment to finish will keep him going. And so it is with marriage, the commitment to continue may take give you what you need to see it you through.

– Commitment provide security to your spouse that you are going to continue even through hard times.

– Love is the foundation for marriage, love for God and love for the other person. It is sacrificial, giving and selfless.

– Deception undermines love; lying in a marriage does harm but the lying itself does much more than what is being lied about.

– Intimacy comes from knowing the other person on a deep level.

– If you are to have a good relationship, you must commit to each other to be honest – but remember that you must show grace when your spouse is being honest.

– Many things compete for your love. A marriage does not stay strong just because you started off with a good marriage, you must work at it.

– As a bank guards it’s money, so a marriage must guard it’s most valuable thing, love.

– Here are some intruders that weakens the bond of marriage: work, kids, outside hobbies and interests, TV, in-laws, financial strains, friends, addictions, affairs, etc. Some things are not bad in themselves, but if not careful, they can be intruders in a marriage.

– Marriage is not supposed to be the end-all of fulfillment, that would be idolatry. God is the only one who could fulfill us completely. Colossians 1:17

– Date nights are a very important instrument that can prevent intruders in a marriage. Intimacy is another way to prevent intruders in a marriage. – If you have character issues, do not blame it on your spouse.


– You cannot fix a problem if:

1. You do not recognize it. (if you will not admit it and do not see it, nothing will get better.)

2. You will not talk about it. (you have to talk about it to fix things)

3. You will not own it. (Confess, apologize, or forgive if needed.)


– Remember the basic laws of communication:

1. Listen and try to understand the other person.

2. Empathize with the other person.

3. Do not devalue what the other person is saying by defending or justifying, just listen.

4. Clarify what the other person is saying by asking questions.

5. Use “I” statements letting the person know that you understand and take responsibility.


– Boundaries work best when both of the spouses agree. Love flourishes when both spouses respect and receive the boundaries of the other.

– Revenge is not an option for us, revenge belongs to God.

– Ignoring a problem will not make it better. Time alone does not heal things, you must face it and fix it.

– Almost never is their a problem in that one spouse is 100% wrong and the other spouse 0% wrong, almost always there is a shared blame a problem.

– Forgiveness is burning the account.

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