Many of the struggles people experience in dating and marriage relationships are, at heart, caused by some problem in the areas of freedom and responsibility. By freedom, we mean your ability to make choices based on your values, rather than choosing out of fear or guilt. Free people make commitments because they feel it’s the right thing to do, and they are wholehearted about it.
By responsibility, we mean your ability to execute your tasks in keeping the relationship healthy and loving, as well as being able to say no to things you shouldn’t be responsible for. Responsible people shoulder their part of the relationship, but they don’t tolerate harmful or inappropriate behavior.
Dating and marriage is ultimately about love. People seek it through dating. When they find it, and it matures, they often make deep commitments to each other. Freedom and responsibility are necessary for love to develop in dating. When two individuals allow each other freedom and take ownership of the relationship, they are creating an environment for love to grow and mature. Freedom and responsibility create a safe and secure environment for a couple to love, trust, explore, and deepen their experience of each other.
Actually, these two elements are necessary for any successful relationship, not just dating. Marriage, friendship, parenting, and business connections depend on freedom and responsibility in order for the attachment to flourish. God designed love so that there can be no fear (loss of freedom) in love, for perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We are to speak the truth in love to each other (Ephesians 4:15), taking responsibility to protect love by confronting problems.
Healthy boundaries are the key to preserving freedom, responsibility, and ultimately love. Establishing and keeping good limits can do a great deal to not only cure a bad relationship, but make a good one better.