This post was supposed to be released late 2014 but I’ve delayed it a bit. Hence, it may refer to posts from 7-8+ months ago.
I was going to write a post on these 3 topics about 2 months ago, and then Rollo had 3 posts on boundaries, intimacy, and vulnerability a month or so ago that pushed me to think about them more. So I finally have the time to write about them. Obviously, Rollo is writing for a secular audience, so I disagree with him and the commenters on a various number of points which I will discuss further.
I don’t know if Rollo was intentional about the release of these posts in a clustered manner, but understanding how these concepts relate together is important for any Christian, especially Christian husbands and Christian men who want to be married.
Boundaries versus Walls
The first thing I want to discuss is boundaries versus walls. They are not the same thing. If you know the difference between then you can more adequately shift your internal perspectives to cultivate relationships.
- Boundaries are cultivated out of an open heart and are meant to protect relationships. When you communicate a boundary to another person you are telling them that you place value on the relationship — you value both your time and the other person’s time. You can communicate you thoughts and actions out of a place of non-judgment in the manner that states that “this is how you have a relationship with me.” Essentially, like a rebuke, boundaries are meant to call someone higher.
- Walls are cultivated out of a closed heart and prevent you from forming relationships. A wall signifies that you are telling them that you place value on only yourself — you value only your time and not other person’s time. In most cases how you see this enacted non-verbally and plays on people’s fears.
In John 10 in the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus communicates exactly how a boundary is meant to act:
John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.
There are multiple lessons we can learn from this passage in how we act toward others in relationships.
- Jesus is the “door” for us to interact with the Father in relationship as we are one of His sheep. We can only enter into relationship with the Father through Him. This is why Jesus is seen as a mediator throughout the NT.
- A boundary always has a “door” or “gate” to allow people to interact with you in a healthy relationship manner.
- Those who try to circumvent the boundary by climbing the boundary are like thiefs and robbers who are only trying to kill, steal, and destroy.
- A boundary is clearly communicated. This is one of the most important points because it signifies that the other person is able to make a conscious free will decision in order to interact with you.
I want to look at some examples of healthy communication of boundaries and compare them against walls.
This is important because in almost all cases, boundaries must be verbally communicated otherwise they aren’t boundaries. If you have boundaries that are uncommunicated, and you hold them against people then it is a wall.
This is important to realize because boundaries inevitably communicate the value that you place your time and relationships. A man that is able to communicate the value of his time and relationships will be high value regardless of his circumstances because he fully understands that stewardship of the life that God has given him is critical to his life.
Example — on a date:
The woman pulls out her phone while you are on a coffee date to text.
Boundary — Communicate to her that it’s not acceptable because you place value on the time and relationship.
Wall — (1) Don’t communicate and just walk out, (2) tell her that it’s not acceptable without a reason, (3) get butt hurt and/or emotional over it, and (4) any other thing that doesn’t communicate the boundary clearly
The vast majority of women I’ve found when you communicate that you’re placing value on the time and relationship are more than willing to acquiesce and will inevitably gain respect and attraction for you. However, for women who are high on drama and are not willing to abide by your boundaries in an uncommitted situation like this then you should enforce. In this case, it may even mean walking out the date in the end.
The vast majority of game advocates the selfish nature of establishing value which ultimately are walls — I only value myself and not you. Whereas for Christians establishing boundaries are instead a way to call others higher in relationships.
Example — sexless marriage:
A wife doesn’t want to have sex with her husband anymore because of various reasons which we need not get into.
Boundary — Communicating clearly with your wife that you want sex, but through your body language and/or actions are unwilling to beg, plead, or otherwise be ruled by it, nor make concessions, or trades for it.
Wall — the obvious example being “dread game” which advocates being non-communicative and going out without being contactable.
The reason why I am against ‘dread’ from the beginning is because of its fear-based roots. The Christian manosphere seems fairly split on this simply because some believe that the means justify the ends. Obviously, it’s true that dread does work and often leads to a happier relationship, but its a tactic that plays on the insecurity of a wife rather than born out of a desire for her.
In both cases, a husband may decrease the amount of time that he spends around a shrewish wife, but the boundary is set that this is what the relationship needs to improve rather than having her imagine that you’re going to leave her. Both desire born out of confidence and unneediness and fear of a husband leaving are strong attractors, but only one of them given my understanding of the Scriptures is right before God.
For the most part, changing is not about her and the lack of sex. It’s about you. You communicate your needs. You change to become the masculine man that you want to be before God. It can involve some motivation like wanting more sex again or wanting to please God by walking in headship, but at the end of the day change starts from you. It’s not about manipulating the other person into changing.
I agree with Rollo that boundaries need to be demonstrated and not told, and they must come after the ‘offending’ action. A boundary that is stated up front is an ultimatum which comes off as needy and/or will send you on a game of seeing if the woman can push your boundary without breaking it which is frankly exhausting for most men.
The main thing with communicating a boundary after it has been established is that you must always be willing to enforce it. This requires a man to be a man on two levels: communicate the boundary, and then do what you have to do if it’s broken. As a man, you must be willing to embrace conflict and weather whatever storm comes out of it.
Always remember this: great leaders are born out of their ability to manage conflict. You don’t manage conflict by arguing but rather leading and facilitating even if you don’t get what you want.
Note: I had wanted to cover vulnerability and intimacy, but suffice to say they’re not bad. “I love you” from an attractive man is different from “I love you” from an unattractive man. One response is joyful, and one response is repulsed.
Ultimately, for Christians vulnerability for a husband manifests as a place where a wife can help meet his needs. In other words, helpmeet. A masculine husband is not afraid to tell his wife where she can help him and she will gladly do it. Vulnerability in these cases will help foster intimacy in bringing you both closer together.
Maybe I’ll write another post on this later, but for now this is it as I’m working on a massive post that requires that this post be released so I can link it. I will release later today or tomorrow before vacation.