Boundaries vs. Expectations?

What are boundaries?

I started writing a blog post on expectations in relationships and quickly came to the realization that I am not entirely clear on the distinction between “boundaries” and “expectations.” i.e. If “I won’t allow someone to yell at me” is one of my boundaries, doesn’t that also imply that I have the expectation that your heartmate won’t yell at me?

Who originated the term boundaries in the context of relationship psychology?

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“Love yourself first…” Really?



In his song Grenade, Bruno Mars laments the fact that he is willing to catch a grenade for his love, but she is unwilling to do the same for him. Is this a reasonable expectation in a loving relationship? Initially this struck me as more than a tad extreme, but then it occured to me that virtually every parent I know would throw themselves in front of moving traffic if they thought their actions would save the life of their child. Isn’t it reasonable to think that you’d do the same for your most significant other? I’d like to think that I’d let go of the proverbial rope if I had to in order to save my wife or family. Through the centuries men have gone to war and fought intruders to accomplish just this goal. It’s the “manly” thing to do, isn’t it? It could even be argued that this is a biological imperative… we are programmed to ensure the survival of our young by putting them ahead of ourselves. Continue reading

What is forgiveness?

The danger in talking with interesting people is that sometimes they make you think. I recently came away from a discussion with a good friend thinking to myself sincerely about the nature of forgiveness. It turns out that forgiveness is one of those words I feel more than know. I have felt forgiven. I have felt the relief of truly forgiving. But to articulate what forgiveness means sincerely escapes me. When I asked myself to define what forgiveness meant, I couldn’t do it.

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What is Love?

“What’s love to you?”

“I don’t know. You tell me!”

A dear friend caught me off guard a while back when she challenged me to define love. It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. The problem for me was not that I don’t know what love is, but rather I had a hard time trying to identify and pull apart the characteristics of the kind of love we were talking about – spousal love; the love you hope you can share with a partner for a lifetime. I had to think about it a lot and essentially the best I could come up with is that it is a kind of “pinnacle” love… it contains all the characteristics of many kinds of love.

"I asked my 6 year old goddaughter what is love? Her response, 'When two people come together and form the biggest heart.' This is her painting." - Photo by Andreanna

"I asked my 6 year old goddaughter what is love? Her response, 'When two people come together and form the biggest heart.' This is her painting." - Andreanna

So, for example, I believe the sentiments of the following verse: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” While this is a component of my relationship with my Mrs., obviously I love her differently than I love God or my neighbor.


I also look to a different verse – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” This is the “rope over a precipice of death” test. If I was dangling on an unraveling rope with her, would I be willing to let go if I knew my sacrifice would save her life? Is there a component of wanting to put the other person first? This one is a little counter cultural these days, but I feel it still applies if your goal is a long term relationship. It must also be viewed in the light of the first verse as it follows that if we do not love ourselves, we can’t really offer love to our neighbor. The problem with this definition of love, however, is that there are many people that I could say this about. I certainly would let go of the rope for my children, for example. Continue reading