Unconditional love and Boundaries
The definition of unconditional love is to love another person without requiring them to be a certain way or change. To love them exactly as they are right now, and not as you hope they will be. It means to love them when they are late, when they leave a mess or when they say something provoking.
Instead of showing unconditional love we often withdraw love when others bug us.
- If you are late, I’ll ignore you.
- If you say somethings annoying, I won’t kiss you.
- If you make a mess, I will scold you.
That is conditional love.
A boundary is a line you create to protect your physical, mental and emotional health.
For example a physical boundary may be no hitting, biting, slapping. Other examples may be no smoking in my house, no texting while driving me in a car.
Emotional boundaries may be no yelling or name calling.
The MOST IMPORTANT aspect of boundaries is that they demarcate what YOU will or will not do and NOT what the other person will or will not do. You may first request another person stop a particular behavior but you may not mandate. When enforcing a boundary, you are not controlling the other person, you are telling them what YOU will do in a particular situation. Here are some examples of boundaries:
- If you yell, I will leave the room
- If you hit me, I will leave the relationship
- If you smoke in my house, I will ask you to leave
- If you text and drive I will not drive with you any more.
NOTE: There is no controlling the other person, they can yell, hit, smoke and text all they want. You are choosing to not be present for that behavior.
Setting a boundary does not mean you do not love them.
You can love someone, even if they yell at you, but you do not have to be in the same room,
You can love someone even if they hit you, but you do not have to live in the same house, or stay married to them
You can love someone if they text and drive, but you do not need to drive in the same car with them.
So what does this all mean for a mixed faith marriage? It is pretty common for me to see questions about how to set boundaries in a mixed faith marriage. I think the first and crucial step is to understand the the difference between a request and a boundary violation.
Anyone may make a request. Please do not drink coffee in the house. Please pick up your dirty socks. Adults may comply or not. That is their choice.
A boundary violation is when your physical, emotional or mental health is compromised. A boundary violation is not a request that has been denied.
Many times people think they need to set a boundary when a request has been denied. That is usually just a demand.
That is why I love teaching unconditional love with boundaries. Learning to love someone even when they are a messy human is a real skill. Setting boundaries to protect your physical, mental and emotional health is an act of love and respect too.