Book Review: Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

by Gary Gilles

It’s an understatement to say that maintaining a healthy marriage is hard work. But the task of nurturing a marriage is often complicated by boundary confusion. Boundary confusion is when one or both people in a marriage are unclear where their “property” starts and stops. “Property” as I’m using it here refers to what YOU are responsible for in the relationship. Your property includes your body, thoughts, feelings, choices, beliefs, values, etc. The idea behind healthy boundaries is to know what belongs to you and take full responsibility for it. The same goes for your spouse. No more and no less.

That is the overriding theme of Cloud and Townsend’s excellent book called Boundaries in Marriage. The co-authors are both seasoned counselors and draw from their many years of clinical experience working with couples dealing with real life boundary-related issues. Boundaries in Marriage is just one of many boundary-themed books they have written.

In this book they discuss what they call the “10 Laws of Boundaries” that help couples learn to respect each other’s needs, choices and freedom. They go through each boundary problem in detail, provide examples of how and why it often leads to boundary confusion and provide practical steps for correcting errant patterns.

In addition to the 10 Laws of Boundaries, the authors discuss ways to create protective boundaries against potential intruders such as affairs, domineering parents and other well-intentioned but unhelpful people.

Though written by seasoned counselors with lots of clinical experience the concepts discussed are practical, very easy to follow, well-written and immediately applicable to any marriage situation.

If you are engaged or just starting out this book might help lay a foundation for a strong and lasting marriage. If you’ve been married for several or many years, this book might help you mend some existing cracks in your relationship. It might even save your marriage. If you are willing to do your part to strengthen your marriage, this is a great place to start.


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