Speak Your Mind Even if You Lose Your Marriage

Boundaries Website Recommends speaking your mind even if you lose your husband!

For an introduction and review of the Boundaries online teachings, see Are Henry Cloud's Boundaries Teachings Biblical?

The Boundaries article How to Test the Quality of Any Relationship addresses a situation where a wife is dealing with a husband who hates disagreement. She claims that she always shares her opinion in a mature, caring way, but her husband walks out on her if she disagrees with him. There's no abuse involved, just extreme stubbornness.

This woman shares very few details, but the author feels he has enough information to pass final judgement on her husband. And he uses this as an example for his readers to follow.

Is this woman's situation really as black and white as she portrays it? Most Boundaries articles make the assumption that problems are caused when a good person fails to set up boundaries with a bad person. There are times when one person is more to blame for a relationship problem, but it's rare for it to be completely one-sided.

Despite the lack of details, the Boundaries author advises the wife to set her "boundary" and speak her mind because "Boundaries are a 'litmus test' for the quality of our relationships."

Then he offers this strange comfort: "If telling the truth causes someone to leave you, this gives the church an opportunity to provide support and a spiritual and emotional 'home' to the abandoned person." What? 😕

The author claims he is not advocating divorce, but he's realistic enough to admit that it's a possible outcome.(1)

There's great irony in this solution: the husband set up an inflexible boundary for his wife (i.e. she can't disagree with him). So she must set up an inflexible boundary for him (i.e. she will disagree with him whenever she wishes). Is that really the best answer? 

Has this wife humbly and carefully examined her attitudes and commitment to the marriage? Has she seriously prayed for wisdom in dealing with her stubborn husband? It's rare that one spouse bears 100% of the blame in the area of healthy communication.

But the author goes even further than giving this woman such advice, he recommends we apply a boundary to our loved ones just to test them: "Try our 'litmus test' experiment with your significant relationships. Tell them "no" in some area. You'll either come out with increased intimacy—or learn that there was very little to begin with."

Really? Isn't that what this woman's husband is doing? 

Many of the Boundaries teachings take this either-or approach, with no middle ground. 

But Christians have the Spirit of the Lord to guide us. We should recognize how stiff, inflexible, and unimaginative this counsel is. Are there no other ways the wife could improve her situation? Is it all or nothing? Is God really telling her to speak her mind even if it ends her marriage?

Let me share a situation from one of my first Bible studies as a new Christian, a situation that really spoke to me about handling marital conflict:

A woman in my Bible study had an un-believing husband who resented her newfound faith. He complained about the way her church attendance ruined Sunday morning, and demanded she quit going. Most women would have seen this as an either/or situation and refused to forsake Sunday morning fellowship.

But God's Spirit guided this woman to submit to her husband's unreasonable demand. She knew she could find fellowship in her women's Bible study even if she didn't attend church on Sundays.

Then, on Sunday mornings she refused to act resentful. She did her best to enjoy the day with her husband and let him know he was important to her. In a matter of months, he was encouraging her to go to church, this time with his full blessing. 

She created a bridge instead of a boundary.

Sometimes we think there is only a plan A and a plan B, but God almost always has a plan C. To read about this truth, see God's Unseen Footprints and When God Doesn't Tell us What's Happening.

It’s one thing for two friends to decide they aren’t kindred spirits and part ways. It’s quite another to end a marriage. 

Boundaries or Bridges? The choice is ours.

Foot Note:

(1) The article states: "In no way are we advocating divorce. The point is that you can't make anyone stay with or love you. Ultimately that is up to your partner. Sometimes setting boundaries clarifies that you were left a long time ago, in every way, perhaps, except physically."  

This statement makes so many assumptions. Is there nothing of value in their relationship? Is the husband's stubborn attitude a sign that he's left her or no longer loves her? The author may not be advocating divorce, but neither is he advocating the Christian attitude toward marriage expressed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6. Nor is he advocating the Christian attitude toward relationships found in passages such as Philippians 2:1-11 and Romans 12:9-21. Scripture never encourages us to take the easy way out of a difficulty.

For a collection of helpful articles about specific Boundaries errors in their teachings about marriage, family, and church relationships, see Are Boundaries Biblical Collection.

Speak Your Mind Even if You Lose Your Marriage



  1. I really enjoy your posts, but I do have to comment here. I've been abused by two different partners. Both I married. They only violated my boundaries and at times violently. When someone violates every boundary you have in order to have power and control, in order to make themselves feel better/powerful, then there is only one option, to leave. Narcissists, borderlines and psychopaths/sociopaths do not change from prayer. Trust me... I tried for twenty years.

    1. I clarified that there was no violence involved in the relationship discussed in this situation. Violence is one reason to set up boundaries.