“I believe that everyone chooses how to approach life. If you’re proactive, you focus on preparing. If you’re reactive, you end up focusing on repairing.” — John C. Maxwell

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Bible (Philippians 3:14)

Joe and Jane sought assistance from a marriage counselor. Jane was a decision-maker. She liked to plan things, go places, set objectives and go for them. Joe, her husband, used to be that way too. It was probably what brought them together in the first place. As the years went by, however, Joe realized that when Jane made decisions, she wasn’t willing to change them. Since most of the decisions Jane made affected their marriage in some way, Joe learned he had basically two options: Either he could go yield to her plans or rebel. He found that rebellion was painful, so he defaulted to the easier path; he simply went along with whatever Jane wanted.

Jane felt like Joe never took the lead in their family affairs; the decision-making burden always fell upon her. Joe told the counselor that whenever he tried to make a decision it was evaluated and frequently overruled by Jane. Hence, he chose the path of least resistance – he gave in. Thus, neither of them were happy, but the battles were avoided.

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book “Changes That Heal,” has an excellent discussion on setting boundaries in marriage. Quoting Dr. Cloud: “Owning our own lives is the essence of freedom, and there is no love without freedom. Freedom realizes oneself, and love motivates us to give that self to others. When we give before we are free and truly own ourselves, we have fallen short of servanthood and into slavery. Realize what you own, and then share yourself with others. This it to fulfill the law of Christ.” The law of Christ Dr. Cloud is referring to is the second of the two commandments which Jesus said were the greatest commandments, “love your neighbor as yourself.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps one of the most important responsibilities we have in our marriages is to learn to love our spouse as we love ourselves. We humans tend to be unbalanced most of the time. We either tend to give in too easily or we focus on our own demands. Neither of these actions is good for healthy relationships.

An important prerequisite to any good relationship is first understanding who we are. If we let the wind blow us every which way, we have no direction, no definition. Much of society seems to be headed that way these days. We give into the latest pressure, whether it is to buy the latest fashions or to join the crowd in doing or protesting whatever. As you read this can you put in words some of the beliefs/actions that describe you? Or are you just part of the crowd? As the Bible points out, it was the crowd that condemned Jesus to death.

Once we have a feeling for who we are and what matters to us, it is important to set some boundaries. If we are asked to do something of questionable nature, legally, ethically or relationally, are we able to say no? Maybe, as Dr. Cloud suggests, we need to develop a “no” muscle.

In our individual relationships, there are lots of opportunities to exercise boundaries, but consider this overall context: Our God is love, and embodies both righteousness and mercy. We must learn to speak the truth in love.

Join us for a gala affair with a delicious meal, great fellowship and an encouraging message celebrating marriage and the family. Our annual Marriage Celebration will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Woodside Plantation Country Club. The cost is $70 per couple and $35 for singles. Our guest speaker will be Michael E. Perry, Ph.D. cofounder, president/CEO human performance and behavior expert. Please let us know you will be with us (contact information below). You will be blessed.