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Setting Boundaries in Your Most Difficult Relationships (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 9, 2022 5:00 am

Setting Boundaries in Your Most Difficult Relationships (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 9, 2022 5:00 am

Lysa TerKeurst reflects on the death of her marriage and how she had to place boundaries in her life to protect her own mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. She offers insight, biblical wisdom, and encouragement to those needing to establish boundaries with others. (Part 2 of 2)

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In those early years, when I came to know the Lord, he and his family were so against it that they actually advised him to divorce me. Joy spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well.

Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that God just really used focus on the family and your guys' ministry to grow me and prepare me and guide my heart to live out in front of my husband what it means to follow Christ. And the best news of all is that Joy's husband also became a follower of Jesus.

I'm Jim Daley. When we work together, we can strengthen more marriages like Joy's and give families hope. Please call 800-the-letter-A-and-the-word-family or donate at slash hope and your gift will be doubled. People said, well, Jesus said, lay down your life for your friends and Jesus modeled that. He laid down his life for his friends. And that's absolutely correct. Jesus laid down his life for a high and holy purpose, but not to enable bad behavior to continue.

So we must not confuse the good command to love with the unhelpful and often harmful behavior of enabling. Well that's Lisa Turkhurst and she joins us again today on Focus on the Family. Your host is focus president and author Jim Daley and I'm John Fuller.

John, I'm excited to have Lisa back. You know, there are a handful of people that do such a wonderful job communicating their message and Lisa's one of those handful of people that do it so well with great wisdom. She really is tapping into the hearts of all of us and the topic we talked about last time were those boundaries in our life, why we should have some A and if we don't, why there will be chaos in our lives and that gap. And I thought it was an excellent discussion and if people missed it, I hope you'll go to the website, get it on your smartphone through the Focus app, however you can hear it. You can listen to part one as you listen to part two as well.

Yeah, it's a good backdrop. We covered a lot of really interesting and relevant content regarding relationships and what to do when things go south. Lisa is passionate about helping women. She is head of Proverbs 31 ministries. They reach out and touch millions of women every year. Lisa is a very popular author and she has written a terrific book called Good Boundaries and Goodbyes.

And we have copies of that here at the ministry. Call 800 the letter A in the word family to learn more. Lisa, welcome back. Thank you. It's so good to have you.

Listen, you know, the mark of a really good writer I think is how you can use humor in very heavy situations and your book certainly has very humorous stories in there. The one I connected with was how your floodlights I think are connected to some other area of the house. Yes. Tell me about that one because I am so mechanically unenclined. I am too. You know, I grew up in a good long stretch of my childhood where we didn't really have the money to call the professionals in so my mindset was always like just work around it, you know, like fix it good enough.

So that mindset is important to be the undertone of the story I'm about to share. So we did a renovation project and somehow the back floodlights of my house were connected to the hot water heater and I know if you are a plumber or an electrician, you probably are not going to believe me, but I am telling the honest truth. If we turned off the back floodlights, the hot water went out and so one time my sister came to visit and she went upstairs to take a shower and all of a sudden she yelled downstairs, Lisa, something just happened to the hot water to which I replied, sorry, I'll go turn the back floodlights back on. And so she got out of the shower and she came down and she looked at me. She said, repeat to me exactly what you said and I said, oh, sorry, if we turn the back floodlights off, the hot water goes out and she leaned in closer and she said, you know, you need to get that fixed, right?

And I was like, I know I've been meaning to put a little sign, maybe even laminate it by the back floodlights light switch and tell people don't turn this light switch off or else we won't have hot water. And she leaned in, she said, that's not normal, you know, that's fixing it, right? Exactly.

And he knows I've thought about that story. It's such an example of how we get used to our own dysfunction. It didn't even occur to me to call someone and have that fixed.

It occurred to me to put a sign up and just say, don't turn the back floodlights off, right? Which you'll be happy to know I eventually after my sister's prodding did get the issue fixed, but I think it's a good example of how over time if we continue to live in dysfunctional dances, that's what I call it, a dysfunctional dance sometimes in some of our most important relationships, over time that dysfunction starts to feel normal and we normalize things that we shouldn't normalize and we get used to our own dysfunction. Wow, that's a right between the eyes kind of statement, really, for all of us to assess that. You also mentioned the damage done when we invest too much attention into how people see us. I don't mean to twist that, but, you know, people's opinions and how that influences our own opinion of us, I think some of that is hard to avoid. I mean, if somebody says, you know, Jim, you're eating a little too much, you know, whatever that might be, there is a certain objectivity to that that somebody should listen to that's healthy and then there's unhealthy.

Help us divide those. Yeah, well, I think you can always look at the intention of the statement, was this meant to harm me or help me and take a step back from that statement and just think like there's a reason the statement was made either it's an indication that they have some issue going on and they're trying to harm me or it's an indication of the great love for me and they're trying to help me and discerning those two are really important and not personalizing it so much where we automatically get defensive because, you know, that's one of the real killers of a conversation is for one person to get incredibly defensive, but as it relates to boundaries, you know, I think we have to have a realistic understanding that communication is so vitally important and there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways to have conversations and so boundaries really provide a structure for us to be able to communicate where the freedom is in the relationship and like I said yesterday, what is acceptable and what's not acceptable and we have the opportunity to state what we do have to give and what we don't have to give. The real struggle sometimes in relationships is where we feel like we cannot say what we know needs to be said either because we're afraid of the change that that might happen in that relationship. We're afraid that that person might reject us, abandon us or, you know, ghost us and here's what I say.

If we are that afraid that this person would reject us, then you're really in a relationship where that person is probably going to reject you eventually anyways and so I think boundaries give us an opportunity to have those healthy conversations that need to be had. Yeah. You share a story about a friend of yours whose mother found a baby picture. Describe the impact of that and how does that apply to what you're saying. Well, it was this beautiful moment, it's a gal that works for me, her name is Amanda and her mom gave her a picture of her when she was a baby and Amanda pulled out that picture one day and looked at it and she said, look at me before life wrote all over me.

Wow. And she could just see so much life and the light in that baby's eyes and she's like, that baby is me, but so much of life has been written all over me that, you know, it's, she sort of changed the view of her potential based on the things that happened to her. And if we want to have healthy relationships, then we have to pursue health within ourself because health bonds with health, unhealth bonds with unhealth. So if we want healthy relationships, we would do well to tend to our health, heal some of those things from the past, work on some of those things and really determined to bring the very best of who we are front and center. You know, in that description, a person like Amanda, you can feel the tread marks all over you that life has dealt you a bad hand and you could get resentful and that's what you're describing.

How do you climb out of that hole? I mean, even listening to this today, I mean, how does a person say, okay, I'm not going to let people run all over me. I'm going to create a boundary. Is that the right motivation that you feel, you know, that people have mistreated you, therefore I'm going to set these boundaries?

Is that right or wrong or? Well, we have to be careful not to let the bitterness that happens around us or the bitterness that comes at us get inside of us because the Bible is so clear in Ephesians, you know, we're told to get rid of all bitterness because there's never just a little bit of bitterness. Bitterness leaks out, not just onto the person that we feel bitter against, but it leaks out onto all of our relationships. So you know, I can speak to this really personally, at some point I had to decide if the unwanted and heartbreaking divorce that I went through, if that was going to be the epic defining moment of my life and would I always carry that banner of being a victim or was I at some point going to rise up, accept reality because mental health is a commitment to reality at all costs? Was I going to rise up, accept reality? I can still wish that that would not be part of my story, but by God, if it is going to be part of my story, I'm going to rise up, I'm going to hold up the banner of victory and I'm going to kick the devil in the teeth and make him regret he ever messed with a woman like me.

Wow. That's a statement. It's a statement, but it's also a life-saving perspective to have.

We all have parts of our story that either we didn't see coming or we didn't want or that just ripped the rug out from underneath us and I think it's good to think about am I going to hold up the banner of victim or victory because we can't hold up both at the same time. At least that fear can prevent us from creating healthy boundaries, the fear of what a person might think if we do this, whatever it might be, but we pull in from doing the healthy thing that we could do. I see that a bit in my own voice, that confrontation is not a comfortable thing for them. How do we, either in our marital relationship or in our parenting journey, how do we help our spouse, help ourselves, help our kids not have that fear of engaging people like this with real firm boundaries? I think sometimes when we think about communicating a boundary, it feels like we're having to operate in the extremes and extremes feel so comfortable. We can never have this happen again or you always do this and so I always encourage people to avoid the extremes and recognize that the boundary conversations don't have to be awful. If somebody makes a request of you that would extend you past the capacity that you have, then we can have a gentle conversation and say, my heart says yes, yes, yes, but the reality of my time says no.

Here's the deal, we're already doing this really well. I'm going to prove to you Jim, you're already doing this really well, are you ready? Do you have a bank account? Yes. Do you have a passcode on your bank account?

I believe I do. Okay. Even if you can't remember it right now, you have some sort of security so that not everyone can get your bank account. Would you feel comfortable right now just sharing your bank account information and your passcode and everything just to give all of us free access to your bank account?

Absolutely not. Why? Is it because you're unchristian? Is it because you're selfish? Why won't you just share it? Because it's none of your business.

Exactly, right? I would suspect because you don't know if we're all going to be responsible with the limited resources that you have in your account and you know that you have responsibilities that your limited resources need to handle, right? And it's not because you're unkind or unchristian, it's because you have a limited capacity and it's because you're human. Only God has a limitless supply. And so of course we wouldn't give free access to everyone because we don't know if they will be responsible with that access. We know this with our finances, but we forget it with all other areas of capacity in our life. And so I think it's a really healthy exercise even before we attempt the hard conversations to have a logical sit down with yourself and define what is my capacity in this area, in this area, in this area, so that when requests are made that hyper-extend us past our reasonable capacity, of course, always allowing the Lord to grow us and develop us, but we can simply have a logical conversation. It doesn't have to be so emotional. I would love to do that.

My heart says yes, yes, yes, but the reality of my time makes this a no. Now I can't give that, but here's what I can give. Yeah, I'm thinking of that marital conflict though where the frustrated wife, I'll just use that as the example, obviously you can put the shoe on the other foot, whatever, but that wife that's been nagging her husband, I mean it could be something silly like putting the dirty clothes in the right spot and he just has some incredible inability to put it in the hamper. I mean it goes on the floor, it goes on the bed, it goes everywhere else, but in the hamper. And I'm being ridiculous here, but that could become a real sore point of frustration. Can't you just put your dirty socks in the hamper? And it starts to chip away at the relationship.

Now we could put more serious things in there and you can keep inching up the game with the seriousness, but where does the acceptance of somebody's inability for whatever reason did God create their brain so they can't put their dirty socks in the stinking hamper? But how do you evaluate that? How do you know when, okay, this husband of mine just does not have the capacity to do this and I back down on the expectation. Or I keep pressing even to the breaking point where this really puts a dent in our relationship.

How do you know that balance? Well, okay, let's use the example of one spouse always running late and the other spouse always wanting to be on time. Okay, so are you typically, Jim, the run late person or the on time person? On time person. Okay. And it's interesting you should say that because Jean is the running late person. Okay.

Okay. So let's say you and Jean are having a conversation and Jean, we love you. There's many, many, many of us that also run late. But let's say you and Jean have this different definition of being on time. Let's just phrase it that way, right? So you like to get there 20 minutes early, Jean feels like as long as she skirts in at the last second, then she's on time.

Yeah, pretty much, and she does a lot better job now than she used to. Okay, perfect. But you can have a conversation, you could say, Jean, I absolutely love going places with you. I love going to church with you. Let's just use that as an example. I love going to church with you.

And Jean, I have an issue. So you're taking ownership of your own thing. I have a different definition of being on time than you. I can't feel comfortable in church and receive everything that I'm supposed to receive if I don't get there 20 minutes early.

So here's my proposal. If we can go 20 minutes early, that's great. If we can't, though, I'm giving you freedom to take all the time you need. And we will still sit together in church, but maybe we need to ride in separate cars.

But here's the great bonus. I will arrive at church. I will save you a seat.

I will make sure you have notes. I will set it all up so that we're both successful. And it doesn't diminish our love if we ride in separate cars. It just simply means we go to church, we just don't ride in the same car. And so, of course, that's a simple example, and I know many relationships have complicated nuances to it. But isn't it better to come up with a solution like that than to always sit in church with your spouse feeling annoyed and frustrated and let those simmering resentments grow to the point of a real serious issue in the marriage?

Absolutely. And those little things can do that. They can be blown up into big things, and it's unhealthy. You had to make a heart-wrenching decision, and again, we talked about it at the beginning of the program last time, to say goodbye to your marriage. And I can't imagine all of the angst and the writhing of going through that, and you're very respectful to your ex-husband, Art, but you say that goodbyes can be healthy. Now, people are going to jump at that and say, how can that be, because God hates divorce?

And that's one specific area, but how can goodbyes be healthy? Well, and it's interesting you brought up the verse from Malachi, God hates divorce, because in the original language, that interpretation didn't come about until the King James Version. In the original language, it actually says, when a man hates and divorces his wife, he does violence against the very one he should protect. And so when I did research on that, and I started to understand that, you know, of course, God would hate what divorce does to people, right?

But God doesn't hate divorced people. And so, you know, it was gut-wrenching. I did not want a divorce.

I fought really, really hard. We were married 30 years, and the last eight of those years, they were the hardest years of my life, and he would probably say they were the hardest years of his life as well. But there were some things that shifted our marriage from a difficult marriage to a destructive marriage. And when I realized that there were choices being made that were not keeping in line with a biblical marriage, at some point, you know, it was not about me walking away, it was about me accepting reality.

And here's the thing that I had to choose, though. This was a very heartbreaking goodbye, but it was also, at times, a really messy goodbye. Heart-wrenching, actually. But I read that the original phraseology of goodbye, it actually comes from, God be with ye. And then it was shortened to God, B-W-Y, and then it became goodbye. And so, as I thought about that, I thought, I want a little more of God be with ye in my goodbyes. And so, I had a marked moment where I took all the heartbreak and all the devastation, and I acknowledged it.

It's real. I will not deny it. But I started to pray, God be with ye. And it became a better goodbye.

I mean, that's powerful. And again, people are dealing with all kinds of different things, right? And they don't understand the full situation that you went through, and you're very discreet about how you share about that, but you did fight. And there was biblical reasons for you to terminate the marriage. Yes.

And, yeah. And I think that's why it was important in this conversation of good boundaries to also include the goodbyes, because in all of my years of attending church and studying the Bible, I had never really learned, how do you say a biblical goodbye? Is God even okay with goodbyes? And there were so many examples that I found in Scripture. I mean, we look at Paul and Barnabas. They had a sharp disagreement, and it wasn't because either of them were terrible people. It's that they had a different vision of the next missionary journey and who should go with them. But even though they separated and they went their separate ways, and there's no indication that they ever really came back together and did ministry together, there was a softening on both of their hearts where they walked away, but they didn't bash the other person. They didn't discredit their ministry, right?

And the Bible says it actually even served to further the gospel even more. So some goodbyes are just hard and horrific, the end. Some goodbyes, it's not because either the people are terrible people. It's because they had a division, a die vision. One had a vision to go this way. One had a vision to go this way. But they kept their hearts soft in the process. Yeah. That's such a good thing to remember in the circumstance you're in. And again, Lisa, right at the end here, it may not be an act of infidelity or addiction or the things that occurred in your situation, but the woman that's just frustrated, she feels like, is this it?

Maybe the man that's in that spot, is this it? Is this all that can be? It's just arguments and just chaos. Why isn't it more than this?

I thought that day we got married, it would be something different. And it's not. And it's gotten worse. What word of encouragement do you have for them to say, it doesn't have to be that way? Well, I would say sometimes you have to call a timeout and call in a professional. And if there's one thing that I would really encourage them to do is get out of the swirl of their own echo chamber of what they've been fighting about. Because sometimes you can get in such a dysfunctional dance that it really does require outside people to speak into the marriage. And so I would say, do everything you can to fight for that relationship. And have outside people that are good, wise, trained people to speak into your relationship. Because I would give anything, absolutely anything, to not walk through a divorce. And so do everything that you possibly can to not just save that relationship, but treasure it. And at the same time, recognize if it's shifted from difficult to destructive, a separation may be necessary. Jesus called us to forgive 70 times 7, but He did not call us to stay in a situation where someone's abusing us and hurting us. And to stay close in that forgiveness, you can create some distance and enough distance to where you can forgive that person if they never change 70 times 7 without getting destroyed in the process.

Right. That is such good advice. And a great way to start, obviously, is to get Lisa's book, and it's not just the marital relationship. It's, again, all relationships. What are healthy boundaries? What are unhealthy boundaries?

What are my motivations to set those boundaries? We've covered it all, and Lisa's book goes into even more detail on how to do that. So get a copy.

Order it directly from Focus here. If you can help the ministry, you can make a donation of any amount. We'll send it as our way of saying thank you. And if you could do that monthly, that's great. If you can't afford it, we're about getting the resource into your hands.

So let us know, and we'll send you the book and trust others. We'll cover that cost. The other thing Lisa said there is so true. Hope Restored, our marriage-intensive program, is such a good program, 81% success rate. That's two years after the couples have come through the program. Many of those couples have signed divorce papers, and it's still a very high success rate.

And what they're doing is exactly what Lisa is talking about. They're going to teach you how to understand each other's triggers, how to love, how to build an environment of trust, to give your marriage the fighting chance to be something far better than what it may be right now. The starting point for help is 800, the letter A, and the word family. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word family. We're stopped by the show notes for details about Lisa's book, ways you can donate to the ministry and to find out more about Hope Restored. Also, Jim, I think it'd be good to mention that we do have a team of caring Christian counselors, as Lisa indicated. We'd be happy to connect you with somebody in your local area so you can have an ongoing conversation with someone to help unpack some issues that you might be dealing with.

Again, 800, the letter A, and the word family. And as we enter the season of the holidays here, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Jim, it's time that we can encourage people to give families hope. At Lisa, again, I'm sorry for the heartache that you've gone through. I'm really impressed by your ability to turn that into something that others will benefit from. I mean, it's really, it's touching to see how you've done that, so thank you for being with us. Absolutely. And, you know, that's been my prayer.

If I have to walk through this, I want God to get, somehow, get the glory from it and create good in other people's lives because of it. And on behalf of Jim Daley and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. Man, I knew my marriage was falling apart.

I just didn't know how to fix it. I felt like I would always be alone, even if I stayed married. At Focus on the Family's Hope Restored marriage intensive, we offer hope to couples in crisis so they can have the marriage they've always dreamed of. For the first time, I felt like my husband truly heard me. I've received some great tools from the counselors that have changed my life and my marriage. To begin the journey of finding health, go to today.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 08:21:15 / 2022-11-09 08:27:38 / 6

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