Setting Boundaries

Posted On: Dec 07, 2018By Mike Genung

Beautiful brunette woman looking out in window at home

There is a difference between setting a boundary and trying to control your husband to force him to do what you want. A boundary gives him the free will to choose to get help or change. You’re not his puppet master; the goal is for him to want to choose to take the action steps on his own. It won’t last long if you’ve manipulated him.

A boundary morphs into control when the wife tells her husband what he will do, when, and how. Here’s what control looks like: the wife sets the boundary that her husband must take the five steps, and then says, “You will go to the men’s weekly Bible study at our church, the sex addiction group I found online, and see Billy Joe Bob, who is my mother’s counselor, once a week.”

Trying to control your husband will blow up in your face. If he doesn’t rebel (which, he should, because he would be setting a healthy boundary with you), he may fake it and play along for a while, but eventually, he’ll quit.

You want your husband to step into the battle and stay there until he’s victorious because he wants to, not from resentment because his wife went control freak on him. Your husband should be given the freedom to make the decisions on which groups and counselors he works with.

If you’re trying to control your husband and he’s balking and refusing to play along, that’s a healthy step on his part. Step back and allow him the grace to go after God’s will for his path of healing.

If he’s open to it, you can ask him if he’d like you to look for groups for him, or you might share some resources you’ve found. Offering him information is helping him; crossing into “you will see this counselor” violates the boundary.

Many wives try to control their husbands because of fear or pride. Fear is a merciless slave master; it will keep you cowering in the corner so that you’re ineffective in your God-given role as your husband’s wife, or compel you to provoke or clutch at him until he backs away. We’ll talk more about putting fear into submission in a future chapter.

Pride says, “I know what you need and you need to do this my way. If you don’t, you’re going to get it and I will never forgive you.” Pride isn’t surrendered to God; it always insists on being in control. Pride is about revenge, not mercy; pain, not healing; it is a rampaging bull that stampedes everything in its path. When someone doesn’t do what Pride wants, it goes postal. If
your husband has blown up at you in the past, you know it’s no fun to be on the receiving end when Pride is driving your spouse.

Living in humility and surrender is the best way for you to keep Pride at a distance. God is your husband’s judge, not you. Do what you know God is calling you to do, and then step back and allow Him the room to work in your husband’s heart.

Excerpted from Mike Genung’s book, The Wife’s Heart; Healing from Your Husband’s Porn Addiction and Adultery

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