Strong Relationships Include Healthy Boundaries

Wait, What? Aren’t Boundaries Meant to Keep People Out?

Today I continue my series on Pursuing Healthy Relationships…with God, Ourselves and Others. This week we’ll dig into why strong relationships need healthy boundaries.

What Is a Boundary?

In the simplest sense, a boundary is a property line.  Boundaries indicate the beginning and end of something. They define who we are and who we are not. In relationships, boundaries give us a sense of limits…what we will and will now allow. Boundaries also help us determine who is responsible for what.

God’s Example:

  • God is a bonded person (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), yet each aspect of Him is separate having their own talents, responsibilities, and ways of relating.
  • God is connected to us, yet is separate from us.
  • God continually defines Himself by who He is (Gen. 15:11; 17:1, Ex 20:5, 22:2), what He feels (Jer. 4:19, 15:6), etc.

What Boundaries Are:

Boundaries bring health to relationships because they protect those in the relationship so that love is free to grow. Boundaries promote love by making things clear, and protecting individuals from harm. There are two components of boundaries. We need both freedom and responsibility for love to grow.


  • To be different
  • To have “needs”
  • To disagree
  • To be two different people
  • To love, or not love


  • Both parties take responsibility to do what’s best for the relationship.
  • If this does not occur, one will take too much responsibility and then resentment and bitterness sets in, because they are giving too much. One will take too little responsibility and becomes self-centered and/or controlling.
  • Each person takes responsibility to work on their own issues, regardless of whether or not the other person is also doing so.
  • Problems with freedom and responsibility will cause love to struggle.

What Boundaries Are Not

Setting a boundary is not about fixing, changing or punishing your loved one, child or friend. It is about exerting your own self-control and taking ownership of your life, so that you are protected from harm and are free to love the person you are in relationship with.

It’s saying to yourself, “This is what I will and won’t do in this situation. If I give too much I will be resentful, hurt and will give out of the wrong motivation.”

Results of Boundary Problems (on the inside of you)

It is common to be fuzzy on when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to others, as well as accept ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from others. Check out this helpful information from Secrets of Your Family Tree, p 177

When I CAN’T SAY “no” to others…I feel guilty and/or controlled by others.

When I CAN’T SAY “yes” to give to others…I tend to be self-absorbed and may not respond to other people’s needs.

When I CAN’T HEAR “no” from others…I want others to take responsibility for me.

When I CAN’T HEAR “yes” from others…I can’t receive caring from others.

Talking to God About Your Boundaries:

This might be new information for you about what boundaries are, and why they are so important for healthy relationships. I encourage you to talk with God about what you are learning. Here’s some ideas…

  • Talk to God about your new understanding of boundaries
  • Ask Him to help you see the areas you can start to set boundaries (how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you let others treat you)
  • Ask God to help you accept responsibility for the feelings and reactions that you have
  • Ask Him to help you begin the changes you want to make to set boundaries with yourself and others
  • Ask God to empower you in the areas you need to change
  • Ask Him to help you own your own personal power to effect change in your life (as opposed to feeling the victim of another)
  • Ask God to help you not let other things/people be idols above your relationship with Him

I hope this blog post has been helpful for you. Next week I’ll share more about the boundary confusions we experience with those in our lives. I’ll also share specific ways you can apply what you are learning to make your relationships with God, yourself and others even better.

I’d love to hear from you. What made sense or stood out to you? Is this information about boundaries new to you? How have you seen yourself grow in this area?

Please share this post with anyone you feel could benefit, or on social media. We’re in this together…














7 thoughts on “Strong Relationships Include Healthy Boundaries

  1. Hi Kim,

    I especially liked the quotes from Secrets of Your Family Tree. But, I would like those fleshed out more. I know I need work in the area of boundaries. I just spoke to my sister about over-stepping a boundary with me, and now she is very angry.

    Thanks Kim!

    1. Hi Joan…congats on being brave to set a boundary with your sister and then commenting to her about over-stepping it. Great work…although hard I know. It’s confusing for others in our life when we start setting boundaries in areas we haven’t before. This is needed for growth but can be hard for everyone. Secrets of Your Family Tree is a wonderful book, it might give you extra help in the area. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  2. “I’d love to hear from you. What made sense or stood out to you? Is this information about boundaries new to you? How have you seen yourself grow in this area?”

    Thank you for that Kim, especially the lists format makes the information very concise and very helpful. Dr. Meier, my counselor, who has worked with Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (—those boundaries guys) before and wants to write the Boundaries workbook, says that without internal boundaries (—limits we put on our own internal dance) the external boundaries very often fail. She has lots of research on this so I assume she is correct. . . .Kim, I am not totally clear because we are only starting to work on that but she has told me I have got to place limits on things internally like constantly questioning, constantly second guessing myself, —what ifs, etc. . . .But I think this issue shows were most of the work usually needs to take place —internally. We first need boundaries internally with ourselves. —Within ourselves. . . .The issues (—whatever form they take) would not be happening *externally* if they were not happening *internally* first (—with ourselves). In other words, I have to BE the change I want to see in my world. I need to be able to say “NO” to myself (—If that makes any sense.) . . .I also agree with your wonderful comments to pray about these issues, —consistently pray about them! . . .Maybe it all starts from within us. I think the largest and most real conflict we will ever have in our lives won’t be with others, but actually with ourselves. —We solve it internally, it is most likely solved. . . .If I want to live an authentic, meaningful life, I need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like me(—I so hate that, but I am always working on it). Maybe boundaries only scare off the people that were not meant to be in our lives. Thank you Kim, very helpful.

    1. Aleea…I totally agree!!! Love the work you doing. You are on the right path. I’m doing a whole blog post on this topic on April 4th. Please check back and let me know what you think! Great work…and thanks for taking the time to share with us 🙂

  3. Hello Kim.
    I am just learning to set boundaries. Being able to see that I needed to only came about because God revealed to me that fear/anger/resentment issues that have caused trouble in a good friendship were rooted in my ‘being a martyr’ (His words into my heart) and His opening my understanding about ‘keep on letting yourself be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2 CJB) and leading me into a thankful way of thinking.
    Needing to learn about boundaries has grown out of that recently.
    I understand what youve written about not being able to SAY yes or no – but I’m not really getting the NOT BEING ABLE TO HEAR YES/NO. Is it that one is not able to accept hearing it – or is it that one just doesn’t recognise that it’s being said?

    I’m enjoying and being challenged through these blogs about relationships- especially as a friendship dear to me has been under a lot of strain recently . . . Thank you.

    1. Hi Heather…Thanks for sharing about your journey learning to set boundaries, and how God is coming alongside you to become more healthy in your relationships. Wonderful! I’m happy to explain a little more. Sometimes we have trouble hearing or accepting it when others say no to us. It may feel like they have to say yes…because we need them to, we won’t be ok unless they do, or we have trouble seeing that someone can love us, and still say no to us. Sometimes we have trouble hearing or accepting it when others say ‘yes’ to us. We may have trouble accepting love and care from others because we only feel safe when we are self-sufficient, or we are used to giving to others and don’t know how to accept the love and care others want to give us.

      I hope this helps, and hope things get better with your friend.

      1. Thank you Kim. That helps very much. I can see how it fits with what I have been confronting and dealing with in my own being.

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