Boundaries Blog — enabling

You Are Not Responsible for Your Spouse

You Are Not Responsible for Your Spouse

When you marry someone, you take on the burden of loving your spouse deeply and caring for him or her as for no other. You care about how you affect your spouse; you care about your spouse's welfare and feelings. If one spouse feels no sense of responsibility to the other, this spouse is, in effect, trying to live married life as a single person. On the other hand, you can't cross the line of responsibility. You need to avoid taking ownership for your mate's life.

The law of responsibility in marriage is this: We are responsible to each other, but not for each other....

Read more →


Love Only Exists Where There Is Freedom

Love Only Exists Where There Is Freedom

"His irresponsibility is making my life miserable," Jen began. She then went on to tell me (Dr. Townsend) a terrible story of how her husband had successfully avoided adulthood for many years at her expense. She had suffered greatly at the hands of his behavior, both financially and sexually.

As I listened, though, I could see that her deep sense of hopelessness kept her in prison. I could see countless ways she could be free from her husband's patterns of behavior. She could make numerous choices to help both herself and the relationship. But the sad thing was that she could not see the same choices that were so clear to me.

"Why don't you stop paying for his mistakes and bailing him out? Why do you keep rescuing him from the messes he gets himself into?" I asked....

Read more →


Why Responsible People Enable Irresponsible People

Why Responsible People Enable Irresponsible People

Susie was an administrative assistant in a small company that planned training sessions for different industries. She was responsible for booking the training sessions and managing the speakers' schedules. Her coworker, Jack, was responsible for the training facilities. He took the materials to the site, set up the equipment, and ordered the food. Together, Susie and Jack made the events happen.

After a few months of really liking her work, though, Susie began to lose energy. Eventually, her friend and coworker, Lynda, asked her what was wrong. Susie couldn't put her finger on the problem at first. Then she realized: The problem was Jack!...

Read more →


Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Adult Child Who Refuses to Pay Back a Loan

Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Adult Child Who Refuses to Pay Back a Loan

Question: Dr. Townsend: What kinds of consequences are appropriate for a 39-year-old daughter who refuses to take responsibility for paying a college loan that her father and I co-signed in good faith?

First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I know that it can feel uncomfortable to be at odds with your adult child.

In this situation, your first decision is to approach your daughter in a vulnerable way and describe how her behavior is impacting you. You could say something like ...

Read more →