Cloud & Townsend Theory Critique
Liberty University, February 17, 2014
In the book Boundaries In Marriage: Understanding the Choices that Make or Break Loving Relationships, authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend (1999) help the readers develop an understanding of healthy boundaries in the marital relationship. The book begins with an introduction and what it calls a refresher of a previous book published by the authors on boundaries. The book describes boundaries in marriage as a type of property line or the “beginning and end of something.” (Cloud &Townsend. 1999, p.17) There are several ideas that are discussed in the text in order to help us determine and set boundaries in marriage. The first of these is ownership. Ownership is described as the individual owning his or her own feelings, attitudes or behaviors. With that said boundaries or property lines within the marriage in regards to feelings, attitudes and behaviors will help clearly identify problems.
Another area that boundaries helps is responsibility. Boundaries helps individuals involved know who is responsible for what. Each individual becomes responsible for his or her own feelings, attitudes and behaviors in the relationship. The authors believe that if each party in the relationship is mutually responsible, change is possible. Another area that boundaries helps is our realization of freedom. According to the text, partners in marriage with boundaries are able to determine their freedom and areas they are not free. Finally the last aspect described is that of protection when describing boundaries. Cloud and Townsend (1999) encourage the readers to protect themselves from evil and allow good into the relationship.
One of the main points made throughout the book is that of self control in the process of boundaries. Primarily boundaries do not consist of trying to control the other person in the marriage, rather its based on controlling one’s response to undesired behavior. Taking ownership and responsibility for personal behavior, attitudes and feelings helps a partner to determine what is acceptable for his/her life. This is applicable both in personal character, which is highly stressed throughout the book, and what one partner is willing to accept from the other in regards to behavior and attitudes.
Cloud and Townsend (1999) additionally go on to explain foundational values vital to establishing healthy boundaries. Cloud (1999) writes that “you will get what you tolerate.” (Cloud & Townsend, 1999, p.107) Values are very protective in a marriage. Establishing healthy values ensure good things in a marriage and protect against destruction. Some of the values discussed are love of God, love of your spouse, honesty, faithfulness, compassion and forgiveness, and holiness. In the final portion of the book, Cloud and Townsend (1999) address conflict resolution in marriage. In the final chapter the misuse of boundaries in marriage is discussed and readers are encouraged use boundaries to grow in love and not alienate their spouses. Critique
The ideas presented by Cloud and Townsend (1999) are very applicable to married couples seeking to follow biblical guidance. The principle of boundaries in a marriage to be one that can have a positive impact considering that establishing a strong set of values that marriage partners live by can make a significant difference when trying to protect their marriage. One of the greatest strengths of that the Cloud and Townsend (1999) book has is the advocating of personal responsibility and ownership in the marital relationship. As stated throughout the anecdotes of the book, marriages are easily enthralled in blaming one another instead of taking responsibility for personal feelings, attitudes and behaviors.
As far as determining Cloud and Townsend’s (1999) theory as a comprehensive theory of counseling it...
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