Setting boundaries in a difficult marriage- Is it biblical?

This is the post I’ve been scared to write for quite awhile. I expect to have quite a few unsubscribes to my email list after this post quite frankly, and that’s ok. I’m not writing this to please everyone. (As a people pleaser this one has me shaking as I type!) I’m writing this for those who are open to hearing my message and who may desperately need it. So here goes….. setting boundaries in a difficult marriage- ready?

(disclaimer- I’m not a licensed counselor, all thoughts presented here are solely from my own experiences and research. Always seek a licensed counselor when in need.)     *This post contains affiliate links. Click Here for full disclosure**

As a blogger who writes for those standing for marriage, setting boundaries in a difficult marriage is usually a hot button issue. Whenever setting boundaries in a difficult marriage is suggested, it is often met with opposition, or at least some hesitancy.

There are so many reasons wives will be concerned with setting boundaries in a difficult marriage. For some it’s the fear of pushing husbands further away, for some it’s the confusion on “how to”, and many will question if it’s even biblical. They will ask, “Isn’t setting this boundary spiritually counter-intuitive? Isn’t it taking things into my own hands and not allowing God to do his work?”

There are a few popular standing for marriage ministries out there who back up the notion that we shouldn’t “take things into our own hands”, and that we should turn the other cheek and let God work.

I know. I used to follow them when my own marriage was on the brink of the end. While I was encouraged by positive testimonies and scripture that lifted my soul, I always had issue with some of the blanket statements the ministries gave that made marriage look like a cookie cutter situation for all.

It is not.

I’ve messaged with hundreds of women from all over the world on a daily basis for a long time now. While many women report of the typical marriage issues gone haywire where both committed crimes against the marriage, there are countless silent christian women who are hurting, who are married to men who are by all definition of the words emotionally abusive, controlling, manipulative, physically abusive, and boldly committing ongoing unrepentant adultery- all while blaming their wives. And even worse- telling their wives they need to respect them and submit to them regardless if they want to consider themselves a “good christian wife”.

Many of these women are encouraged by these ministries to be humble, to be meek, and silently wait on the Lord.

Meanwhile, they and their children suffer the daily walking on eggshells, the daily abuse while waiting on God. They bow their heads low in submission, hoping their husband will be reached soon, which enables their husbands bad behavior. (By the way- this post applies to men who are enduring the same).

Now, I’m a big proponent of learning and applying Godly submission in a marriage, but not in the sickly skewed way it has become in these situations. And, I’m also all for being humble, ready to listen, and open to growing into a more godly wife. So if you’re hoping for a blog post that supports throwing  those things out the window- sorry, this isn’t that.

What I am for, is standing for a healthy marriage that honors God. A marriage that exemplifies his love, and demonstrates his desires and boundaries for marriage. So when these boundaries are greatly crossed and even demolished, I disagree with every fiber in my being that a wife is to turn the other way and hope for the best.

God himself is the original author of boundaries. He gave us an entire book full of instruction for our lives, and when we don’t follow the instructions, our sin has consequence. This doesn’t mean we were put here to punish our husbands for their sins, but we CAN guard our hearts as the bible says in Proverbs 4:23. There are also specific instructions in the bible for how to confront a persons’ sin in love and truth. (See Matthew 18:15-17 for more.)

Setting boundaries in a difficult marriage can be hard to navigate. Boundaries done the right way honor god and the marriage and still allow the offender freedom of choice.

Boundaries set in the right way WILL make the offending spouse uncomfortable for a time, but will also teach them what is allowable behavior towards their spouse, and what is behavior that is honoring towards the marriage.

So often christians have no problem setting boundaries with others in their lives. They say no to events that interfere with family time, they say no to friendships that draw them toward sin, or they say no to going to that latest movie because it’s just not god honoring.

So why are we so afraid of saying no to sin in our marriage, to sinful actions towards our marriages? Aren’t our marriages the most important, sacred foundation of our families? Don’t we want to protect them and encourage a god honoring marriage?

For those of you still with me, for those asking themselves, “but what if I set a boundary, and he walks?”

Then I would say to you- let him go. Let him walk. If he’s not going to respect a reasonable boundary (not cheating, not emotionally abusing you, not physically abusing you etc.) then maybe that’s the best thing that needs happen. Not setting a boundary will only enable and the cycle will continue.

Remember, you are not your husbands’ savior. All you can do is place healthy boundaries that honor your marriage and pray for the rest. Jesus is the savior, and even Jesus set boundaries. He said no at times so he could be alone to pray. He went into the temple and turned tables as they were making monies in the temple and stating, “Get out! Stop turning my fathers’ house into a market!” Jesus didn’t turn away and pray and say, “I hope they will see the error of their ways.” No, Jesus confronted them.  (John 2:13-17)

I would like to close this post with a prayer,


Thank you for your love and care and for the gift of your son Jesus Christ, that without we’d have no hope.

Father please allow this post to reach those who you believe will be open to it, and that you want to hear it.

Please help those who are wanting to set healthy boundaries that honor you, do so in truth and love.

I pray for hope and healing in the hearts of all those involved in broken marriages, and Lord I pray for all the innocent children caught in situations they have no control over. So many children are hurting and grieving through these situations,  and we know you love them even more than we do. Lord be with them, protect them, and send earthly angels to love them and guide them as they grow.

In Jesus name,



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  1. Beka says:

    This is a much needed post! Thank you for following God’s direction to share it. This is a message that we don’t share enough- God loves us and he doesn’t expect us to be victims of infidelity or abuse in his name! It took me SO long to understand this because it is so polar opposite to what we hear in many Christian circles. In fact, I clicked through to see your answer before I pinned it.

    When I followed the Holy Spirit’s direction to set reasonable boundaries in my marriage, mountains moved. Not immediately and it wasn’t painless but eventually there was true breakthrough. Change is possible!

    1. Beth says:

      Thank you Beka for taking the time to write! And thank you for sharing this post. It is so true that there is a lot of misinformation within christian circles about this. I am so thrilled to hear that setting healthy boundaries that honored what is good brought true change in your situation. And you are so right! its definitely not easy or immediate, but its possible! God Bless!

  2. Mary Ann says:

    I so enjoyed this post thank you!

    1. Beth says:

      Thank you Mary Ann! My honor to do! <3

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