Boundaries Protect Love Do Boundaries Help the Lost?

Posted by Guest Blogger on October 13, 2016 in Faith, Friendship, Marriage

What’s on the corner where I’m supposed to turn?

I can get lost going to the same store I’ve gone to a hundred times. If a landmark get’s moved…it’s all over. I could circle the block for an hour looking for the spot that used to be my indication to turn. My family jokes that I get lost on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night! So I have taken every precautionary measure known to man, to ensure my somewhat timely arrival to unfamiliar places.

I haven’t hired anyone to drive in front of me at all times to follow (which would definitely be my first choice, if that was a thing), but I do have several map and navigation apps on my phone. I also have a car that has a navigation system integrated into it, and an SOS button to push at a moment’s notice for directions or recipes or if I get lonely, I suppose!

When choosing a car my priorities were not like most people. I did not care about things like color, brand or style. I honestly didn’t even care if it had a radio. (My husband told me that was ridiculous, that you could not have a car with a navigation system and not have a radio − who knew?!)

While these map apps and navigation system help get me from point A to point B, they do NOT necessarily help with what will happen in between.

Last October I left the house when the sun was shining, no coat, no gloves…I was only going 45 minutes away. Before I could get to my destination, I was driving on a road that had just a light dusting of snow. Enough to cover the lines on the road and hiding any indication of the edges or middle of the road. To make matters worse, there was very little traffic. Apparently, everyone else got the memo that this storm was coming…but I had no one to follow that knew the roads. The invisible edge, that previously blurred into a rocky shoulder was now a shear drop off with no guardrails! It could have been three feet or 300…I’m not sure! I was too terrified to look away from the road, because I had no boundaries!

Communicating with integrity and using guardrails…

I received this text message last week from a girlfriend: “Can’t wait to see you, I need help with a new outfit!” Which was quickly followed by another text: “Please tell me this is Laurie’s cell and not Mike’s! This message is intended for Laurie, but I just looked down and my contact says Mike!” And then an entire row of the panic emoji faces!

Haven’t we all felt that sense of panic in a perfectly innocent situation? What about the not-so-innocent situations? If only there was a guardrail on technology − a warning system to alert us before pushing send on texts or emails…

My road trip with out guardrails or boundaries made me think of how important it is to communicate with integrity! I could get so close to the edge of the road and not even realize it without guardrails. I could also drive down the middle of the road, crossing over into very unsafe territory because there was no clear indication of where the lane was that I needed to stay.

In every relationship, like on every road, it’s a great idea to have guardrails in place to help navigate and guide that relationship with integrity.

I’ve been married for longer than I have been single. And in counseling so may married and unmarried couples, I can say I see this desperate need for strong, secure guardrails to be in place in marriages. For the protection of everyone involved. Occasionally situations arise before our awareness…we need to have a plan in place so we know how to navigate.

What comes to mind when you hear, “STOP, DROP and ROLL”?

I bet you remember learning this “plan” when you were in elementary school. When the bell rang, you knew exactly what to do.

Putting a plan in place BEFORE a situation arises is like stopping, dropping and rolling! When a husband is asked by a female co-worker for a ride home from the airport after a weekend business trip, because her ride cancelled or failed to show up…how should he respond? Is the bell ringing?

Stop.

Is this a good idea?

Drop.

Other words and phrases with the same meaning are: bow out, flake out, pull out, bail out, opt out, duck, ditch, dodge or run, to name a few. If the bell is going off and there is a possibility of fire…get out of the building with whatever means you need to.

How uncomfortable will this be? Maybe REALLY uncomfortable. But a 30 second awkward conversation helping someone find a cab stand will be way less uncomfortable than having a decline in trust with the person that you have promised to love, honor and cherish forever.

Roll.

Sometimes you just gotta roll with what’s coming at ya. “Oh, I’m sorry that this is disappointing and I understand you really wanted to tell me all about how sad you are that your pet iguana died…but I still need to be somewhere else and can’t take you to wherever it is you need to go.”

Boom. That’s it. Roll with it. If that answer feels awkward, roll on the ground laughing your pants off as you tell your honey that you said “no” to driving your co-worker to her pet iguana’s funeral!

With guardrails in place, when situations arise the guardrails help you to stay on the course. Causing for a significantly less stressful ride!

Let’s not drive near the blurred out, snow covered edge.

These are a few boundaries that help avoid crossing over the line and see clear edges:

  • Have each others passwords and access to all social media. Why not? My friends are his friends and his friends are my friends. I don’t particularly care about his sports and news feeds, but if I want to I can see them anytime. And the same goes for him with my home decorating and cooking  stuff!
  • We don’t drive with the opposite sex to or from meetings, etc. Simple, straight forward, even if it’s in close proximity from one place to the  next.
  • Lunch and dinner dates with the opposite sex are only if there are three or more. Never one-on-one of the opposite sex…EVEN when we are discussing marriage related topics.
  • No mentoring or “helping” opposite sex outside of office, and always whenever possible have a third party present.
  • Keep texting and emails as professional and short as possible. It’s not really necessary ever to have “emotional” texts with the opposite sex. When in doubt of the content, ALWAYS cc someone for accountability.
  • In the work place with phone calls, put the phone on speaker. It’s much harder for anyone to be flirty if there’s a possibility someone else might hear.

Men won’t ask for directions; women were designed to help with that!

Women tend to react with an emotional response to the airport incident, because they are convinced that men do not have the ability to communicate clearly. I don’t agree with that entirely…but I do think we communicate differently for sure!

Interestingly, the husbands only show concern over the incident when they found out that the situation was disconcerting to their wives! They did not have the same instinctive, guttural response. Why? Because men, generally speaking, have a completely different way of hearing a conversation.

Men often respond to questions to communicate information. Their responses are usually factual, not rehearsed or pre-thought answers. It’s just the facts ma’am.

Example:

  • Do you have a car at the airport? Answer: Yes
  • Do you have the ability to drive said car an extra ten to 100 miles and take me home? Answer: Both of my legs are not broken, so…

Women, on the other hand, hear the possibility of connection and bonding. Women know women.

Women are concerned about the woman’s heart’s intent. Could she misinterpret your husband’s kindness for compassion, and misread the compassion for attention that she’s desperate for to fill the void in her life? What about the perceived perception from anyone and everyone who would see this. What if their child’s school teacher is in the airport? A neighbor? What would they assume?

Looking at guardrails as protective and helpful instead of seeing boundaries as being restrictive can change our perspective!

In Proverbs 16:9 it says:

The heart of man plans his way, but The LORD establishes his steps.

Recognize He establishes our steps; we may have every navigation tool and a perfect plan with which direction we intend to go…the lines in the road may look blurry and the directions could be daunting…not when we let Him lead. He can be that driver that we ask to drive in front of us on every curve. He will know where the edges are for you. Push that SOS button just to talk…even if your car wasn’t wired with one!

Boundaries help us in all of our relationships.

Consider only roads where guardrails are clearly defined. If they are not there, ask for His wisdom where you need to put them in place! Boundaries and guardrails protect the hearts of the ones we love, and help us know when to stop, drop and pray!

The heart of man plans his way, but The LORD establishes his steps.
PROVERBS 16:9

Laurie SheffieldJoin the conversation and please share what you think!

Laurie Sheffield (click for more info)

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