Setting Boundaries – I Don’t Have To Go to Every Argument I’m Invited To
Why is it that by the time a couple gets to the point of divorce they have become experts at getting under each other’s skin? They poke and prod at each other looking to get the other person to react. Often times, this art form has developed over the course of years.
There is the undertone of “I’m hurt” and therefore I’m going to make sure you hurt too. And then a cycle of insanity starts; since the party of the receiving end now feels justified to start the next round of emotional pain.
This situation isn’t limited to spouses; I see it in families as well as life-long friends. My observation is the level of this type of chaos going on in someone’s life has a correlation to the person’s ability of setting boundaries in their life. The lesser boundaries they have the more arguing; more boundaries less arguing.
And why is that?
If you have established good boundaries in your life; you intuitively know when someone is baiting you to jump into an argument that you don’t need to. Often times they do because they enjoy having control over your emotions that you are giving them. In other words, they know how to get under your skin.
I see this with family dynamics. A friend of mine has a son who is a pilot for a major airline; because of that, she gets the perk of traveling at reduced cost. For her this is helpful since she regularly visits her elderly mother in Europe. If her son gets upset with her for some reason, he refuses to get her airline tickets. Then the arguing starts up between them. After a period of time, he’ll start buying her tickets again. If he gets upset, he yanks the tickets and the cycle starts again.
This greatly upset my friend since she felt like he was playing ‘god’ with her on this privilege. I suggested to her that best thing to do is that when he yanks the airline privilege next time she accepts his decision and doesn’t argue.
Next time he did yanked the ticket privilege, he was surprised when she chose not to react. It took her great constraint since she is not used to dealing with the situation in this manner. Also, let’s face it … who doesn’t want inexpensive airline tickets!
She came to accept that arguing on his terms wasn’t worth the emotional toil. She decided that it was just best to pay for her own airline tickets moving forward. She was free from having someone else control her emotions; which was worth far more than any reduced airline tickets.