You won’t read any parenting book without reading the words, “testing boundaries.” I promise. It’s one of the parenting industry’s favorite phrases, and it refers to (usually) a child who is pushing his limits to see when Mom or Dad will stand their ground.

But, did you know we really NEVER outgrow the behavior? Even as adults, many of us push boundaries in our intimate relationships, friendships, and at work.

I confess that I do it all the time. I have a Saint for a husband–truly. He is patient, kind, and attentive. And, he has a tremendous amount of patience. Knowing this, I will, at times, see how far I can test his patience. If I’m feeling particularly angry about something at work, I will find myself “taking it out” on him (because I know I can). However, it’s a delicate dance, as there is ALWAYS a point at which I push him too far. Even after 16 years of marriage, I’m trying to figure out exactly when I reach that point.

Why can’t we stop doing this? Honestly, I really don’t know. But, I do know this: children feel “safer” when they know their boundaries. Perhaps we, adults, do too.

So, next time you find yourself testing your spouse, boss, or friend, ask yourself why you need to be reminded of the boundaries in the relationship. Perhaps you’re not so sure where they are.


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