Boundaries

Y’all. I am gonna get real with you here for a minute. I am going to share with you because that is an important part of my personality, but I am also exploring this weird part of my mental space and trying to hammer some details out. I am learning. I am growing. (And I am blogging.)

I want to talk about boundaries.

Specifically, boundaries in regard to your relationship. This post makes the most sense if you are married, or are going to be married, or are in a committed relationship. But if you happen to be single or casually dating, let it stand as a message that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Getting married is not the end. It is the beginning.

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Our beginning

I am going to give you a piece of advice that was given to me and that has come to have several meanings in my life. I want to share a few of them. The advice is:

You should put a fence around what you want to protect.

Here is the thing about fences. They keep things from getting in. They also keep things from getting out.

First, let me talk about fences as protection from the outside. The fact is, Brett and I have had to face a tremendous amount of conflict in the first four months of our marriage and that has had absolutely nothing to do with our marriage at all. We are empathetic and sensitive people and as such, we absorb the situations of those that we love and care about. We take them on, whether we mean to or not, and put ourselves in their shoes and try to solve problems and commiserate. We mill it over. We make ourselves available. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As people, the ability to empathize is one of the best qualities we have. It develops bonds. It strengthens relationships. But there is a limit to anyone’s strength. You train to fight your own battles, not anyone else’s. You prepare to handle your own relationship issues, not the relationships of another. You seek healing for your own pain, not to bring relief or self-realization in someone else. You must draw the line between empathy and involvement.

Your marriage, your relationship, your family must be number one.

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Our family.

You should put a fence around what you want to protect.

The other purpose of a fence, as I’ve mentioned, is to keep things from getting out. Here is where it gets hairy. Here is where I am being honest and where I am telling you that I am not perfect and where I hope you will nod along and say, “I am not perfect either.” Here is where I am hoping to enter a judgement free zone.

When everything in your life, and in your family’s life, and in your spouse’s life is lovely and each morning is like a spring day, it is easy to be married. It is pleasant. It is where you want to be and how you want to be and who you want to be. It is like living in a beautiful and well kept home. But when life inevitably creeps up, the light starts to dim. It gets a little drafty and a little uncomfortable. You start to look out the window and see what is going on outside of your marriage. You see people outside of your marriage and they aren’t particularly interesting (no offense) but for the fact that they are not in your marriage. It does not really have much to do with infidelity, or marital conflict, or unchecked desires.

It has to do with a weak fence. Or it does in my case. I am telling you that I have not been spending enough time building up my resources. I have been doing The Love Dare (though I have set it down for about a week and really, really need to pick it back up) which focuses on becoming a better spouse. But I have not invested in protecting my family unit with Brett. I have engaged in escapism and I have let my head space wonder where it should not go.

You should put a fence around what you want to protect.

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I know that all of this probably sounds very easy but I want to impress upon you the murkiness that a person can live in. I would not consider myself to be unhappy. I would not consider my marriage to be in trouble. But I will say that our fence has been weak. It has been weak enough to let outside forces get in, and it has been weak enough to let Brett or I contemplate wandering out.

We love our families and we love our friends. But our marriage is our priority and we look to those people to lift us up and to encourage us. We cannot fight their battles any more than they can fight ours. Build your fence and respect it. It will make all the difference you need it to.

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2 thoughts on “Boundaries

  1. Jess says:

    Oof. I want to hug you both. Dealing with family/friend/life troubles are difficult. Finding your way as a newly married couple and family is difficult. When they happen at the same time, I can’t imagine the difficulties that you have to go through. You two are a great team and you will come out the other side of everything stronger.

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