I’m a fan of Dr Henry Cloud (Boundaries, Changes That Heal), but I’ve seen his words twisted to justify wrong behaviour. When a man has a negative reaction to the idea of “boundaries”, it generally means he has not read the book, while his wife has read it and misapplied it.
The Amazon description of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life starts like this:
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others…
Note the part I bolded there; a boundary is a personal property line. When you try to use boundaries to fence others in, you’re not doing what Dr. Cloud advocates. Boundaries can place limits on others, but only about crossing your boundaries. “If you talk to me like that, I will walk away” or “If you hit me I will leave” would be such boundaries. Something like “If you leave your socks on the floor I will throw them out” or “If you don’t take me out to dinner twice a month I won’t have sex with you” are something else. Boundaries are about protection, not control; right boundaries about what you will not accept, not what you want to get.
Another common way of disguising control is to call it headship. I absolutely believe in headship, but I see it as being a servant leader. Using my position as head to get what I want, to get my way, or to push my wife to do things for me would be a violation of what God intended! Using headship to get what we want is an abuse of authority and from what I see in the Bible God is not pleased with such behaviour.
Controlling by any other name is just as wrong and just as hurtful.