Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend


Boundaries are a critical component of a happy, healthy life. With this in mind, I sought this book out to see if there were areas where my boundaries needed a tune-up.

My hand holding the book Boundaries in front of a shelf filled with books.

I was not expecting the book to rely so heavily on the Bible and Christianity. Initially, this was jarring, but, ultimately, I found it an interesting way to define boundaries within the concept of spirituality and scripture.

I learned a lot from the book, although I didn’t agree with some of the views about marriage, friendship, and parenthood. For example, the authors are clearly opposed to the idea of individuals within married couples having opposite-sex friendships. Personally, I think this is an outdated view for many reasons.

I also think the decisions on what kinds of friendships are acceptable within a marriage are ones that a book on boundaries should encourage couples to make for themselves. My husband and I are secure enough in our relationship and have enough trust that our having opposite-sex friends isn’t a threat to our marriage.

I did appreciate that the book tackled the myth that it is wrong or unChristianlike to set limits. The book explains the “concept of boundaries comes from the very nature of God. He tells us who he is and is not.” Many of us struggle with the idea that saying no, especially to those we love, somehow makes us bad, mean, or an unloving person. This book presents a lot of evidence for why this is not the case, arguing “the best boundaries are loving ones.”

Boundaries must be strong enough to keep the bad out but let the good in.

Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries

I listened to this as an audiobook, and the audiobook has its drawbacks in this case. I found the Biblical citations to be tedious to listen to in this format. There were also huge sessions that weren’t relevant to me that aren’t as easy to skip in the audiobook. In my opinion, this book would be better consumed as a paperback, where it is easier to skip directly to the chapters of most interest to you and where you are in life.

If you aren’t into a book that relies heavily on the Bible, you will want to pass on this one. In my case, I was able to glean some insights from it but I would have preferred it in a different format.

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