One of the hardest things to do is to assert your boundaries, graciously. Everyday we come across people, and very few of them are really good about respecting other people’s boundaries. Normally the ones who are good at it, have a keen understanding and knowledge of what boundaries even are in the first place. While the rest of society goes around clueless to the offense they constantly cause by crossing those sacred lines.
It’s not a malicious act, they truly have no clue. They themselves have no clear identification of their own boundaries so they violate out of ignorance. They just fail to see where they end and others begin.
I have always been very knowledgeable of needing my boundaries respected and just naturally adopted being respectful of others. However, it wasn’t until the past few years, when it was labeled for me that I was able to identify the feelings I had of respecting and forcing others to respect “the bubble”, both mentally and physically.
When my marriage ended, it became very apparent to me that the man I had spent the last 10 years of my life with constantly violated my boundaries, in obvious ways and not so obvious ways. In a marriage the boundaries with each other should be looser than with common friendships, (ex. not keeping texts, calls, whereabouts, and internet searching private.) And stricter when including outsiders.
In a marriage there should be nothing that would appear hidden from your spouse and there is no room for intimate friendships with the opposite sex. (ex. venting about private matters in you marriage to the opposite sex is a recipe for disaster and pure danger. The occasional, casual catch up with an old friend that is mutually agreed upon and transparent with you partner, is not at all what I’m talking about here.)
Marriage is scared and it should be treated as such.
Something that was never fought for by my ex, and constantly fought for by me was the need to keep it sacred. You can imagine how exhausting that became for me, and what a relief it was when the fight was finally over. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t ever regret fighting for my marriage, but it was exhausting to be the only one fighting.
Through the past 3 years I have been very purposeful in guarding my boundaries from other’s and maintaining respect for other people’s boundaries.
There is nothing wrong with protecting your boundaries. In fact it is very healthy to help other people understand what your boundaries are. And in extreme causes you may have to cut particular people off from having the chance to violate you, over and over again, when they just don’t get it.
And I am sad to report….that some people just don’t get it, and they never will. You don’t have to feel guilty by cutting these boundary pushes out of your life. That’s not to say that you should harbor any ill feeling or unforgiveness towards them; we are called to forgive.
Let me give you an example.
When you are spending time with a friend and they violate your boundaries you gently show them where their offense lies, with grace and gentleness, but firmly. I will do this a few times before choosing to sever contact in the area of the violation, and in some cases, contact altogether.
Some people just need to be taken from your inner friend circle and pushed to your outer friend circle.
It always breaks my heart when the recourse is to sever a relationship with someone because they violate my boundaries every time we are together. It is not something I do in haste, but after deeming that it has become a toxic friendship.
I recently had to do this with my ex husband’s girlfriend. I am very much in favor of everyone getting along, as long as mutual respect can be attained. However, when that respect is lost then it’s not a healthy environment for anyone to be around. And I certainly am not a fan of placing my children in an environment where a woman who argues the sacredness of my boundaries, despite the many times I explained them, may have a chance to violate my children’s whose boundaries I am set to protect.
I encourage you, when severing any relationship of importance that if the offender sees the error of their ways and seeks restoration, that you give it.
That doesn’t mean placing an opportunity for them to violate your boundaries right in front of them, wisdom would have us go slow. It’s ok to protect yourself, and it’s ok to protect your children. As mother’s that is what we are called to do.
But if you can get to a healthy place with your ex and his significant other, if you can choose to leave your junk out of it, if you can all remain respectful of the goal of celebrating your children, then I encourage you, do it! Your children have everything to gain by being in an environment where they are loved, celebrated, protected and cherished by everyone.
And if you can’t, if you are forced to share your children with someone who is disrespectful towards you and/or them, you can respectfully and without talking negatively about anyone, continue to teach your children the importance of protecting their boundaries and respecting other’s as well. And above all commit their protection to God and pray for the offender.
You can’t change them, but God can.
My God is bigger.