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Boundaries in Marriage: A Healthy Marital Association Critical Essay

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Updated: Apr 26th, 2022

A summary of Boundaries in Marriage

Cloud and Townsend (2002) recommend a hypothetical model that can be used to maintain a healthy marital association. Their proposed model summarizes both the theological and theoretical orientation to a healthy relationship. They argue that marriage basically concerns love. Nevertheless, the authors claim that love itself is insufficient to make marriages flourish.

The authors stated that love is destabilized when problems of accountability and self-determination exist in matrimonial affiliations. They further argue that responsibility and freedom appear as two essential factors considered important for a loving and healthy marriage association to prosper. In fact love only flourishes when there are responsibilities and freedom in a marital association.

However disparities present in control and supremacy, self-regard, antipathy as well as apprehension are enhanced when accountability and self-determination are missing. All these factors are considered essential in driving love beyond an association.

Cloud and Townsend (1999) suggest that loving each other, God, enjoying personal freedom, responsibility and living freely make marriage life a better experience. That is love can flourish when both the responsibility and freedom are supported by the existence of properly instituted boundaries.

These eventually give rise to a healthy relationship. A boundary refers to a point where a particular event initiates and a different event ends. As a result boundaries accomplish various roles when applied in the context of affiliations. For instance, a boundary establishes possession by explaining who owns behaviors, attitudes and feelings. Besides, a boundary issues call to action and determines responsibilities.

As stated by Cloud and Townsend (1999) every partner should be liable for adoration, flair, morals, mind-set, wishes, confines, choices, deeds, manners and feelings. The authors assert that change process usually start from being accountable for your personal problems.

In a healthy relationship the boundary should provide protection against any bad occurrence and permit any good thing to come in. A boundary finally entails self-control. Even though when a boundary is misrepresented it can be controlling, manipulative and punitive, Cloud and Townsend (1999) suggest that marital boundaries should be keenly and graciously established.

Boundaries in Marriage do not concern punishing, changing or fixing your companion. In fact, they concern being responsible for personal existence and protection while loving and caring for your companion without salvaging her or him. Boundaries consist of occasions, physical or expressive affections, unusual costs, reliability and verbal communication. These boundaries could be used to develop a loving association.

According to these authors, ten important laws are required to establish the marital boundaries. The laws include exposure, activity, envy, pro-activity, evaluation, motivation, respect, power, responsibility and reaping or sowing. The above named ten laws define the relationship principles in a Godly way. When couples rebel against these laws consequences are generated and if they live according to them success is fostered.

The establishment of marital boundaries is greatly affected by values held by couples. For instance, in a marriage good things emerge while bad things disappear because of the values held (Cloud and Townsend (1999). The scripture thus promotes six values believed to generate grand marital boundaries. They consist of sanctity, exoneration and kindness, truthfulness, sincerity, spouse adoration and Godly love.

Evaluating the weaknesses and strengths

The model proposed by Cloud and Townsend (1999) is practically applicable to the development and preservation of healthy affiliations. However, it has weaknesses. For instance, when compared with Wilson’s (2001) model, Boundaries in Marriage model hardly address the maladaptive behaviours from a chronological perspective.

In this model context dysfunction relates to unrestrained behaviors ensuing from healthy boundaries. The authors have failed to address the spiritual or psychological etiologies for such dysfunctions. It becomes very unproductive for any model to neglect the past dysfunctional contexts. Furthermore, the model is comparatively weak because it has clear internal contradictions and relatively complex.

The establishment of healthy boundaries has proved to be a rather difficult task because the authors assume that marriage boundaries merely include self-preservation and self-control. These authors affirmed that boundaries should not be manipulatively used to control the other marriage mates. This implies that boundaries that are intentionally established can be misapplied easily and fairly.

Conversely, when compared with Hurt People Hurt People model proposed by Dr. Wilson, Cloud and Townsend (1999) model has numerous strengths. It puts more emphasis on the significance of choice, ownership and accountability. Wilson (2001) claims that to address dysfunctional behaviors boundaries must be established.

In fact the boundaries in marriage need to incorporate perceptions, thoughts and choices as initially affirmed. This model therefore brings credibility to the concentric personality circle hypothesis.

Boundaries in Marriages further offer more strength to the three psychological and spiritual health elements identified by McMinn (1996). This implies that well established boundaries assist in creating responsibility and freedom. Therefore, individuals are left with no choice but to create healing affiliations and uphold perfect sense of personalities.

Application and personal reflection

Despite the weaknesses of this model as previously mentioned the model still appears as the most influential way for developing and preserving healthy marital affiliations. Therefore I really appreciate the actuality that the model developed by Cloud and Townsend (1999) necessitates and calls for personal accountability.

Boundaries in Marriages model uphold and strengthen each marital element considered essential for psychosomatic and spiritual wellbeing. Thus I hardly find any justification that might hinder me from including this model into personal or private theoretical counseling model.


Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (1999). Boundaries in marriage. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.

Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (2002). Boundaries in marriage. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.

McMinn, M. (1996). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in counseling. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers.

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