Book: Boundaries

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

This is one book that I’ve been meaning to read for a number of years but never seemed to get around to it until recently.  I borrowed the copy I read from my local library (Thanks!) but will make sure to put it on my “buy in the future” list.They begin the book by presenting a description of what it someone’s day might be like if they lived without developing boundaries in their life.  At the end of the first chapter, the authors describe what they plan to present in the chapters to follow.

This book presents a biblical view of boundaries: what they are, what they protect, and how they are developed, how they are injured, how to repair them, and how to use them.  Our goal is to help you use biblical boundaries appropriately to achieve the relationships and purposes that God intends for you as his child.

The titles of the sections and chapters are as follows.


  1. A Day in a Boundaryless Life
  2. What Does a Boundary Look Like
  3. Boundary Problems
  4. How Boundaries are Developed
  5. Ten Laws of Boundaries
  6. Common Boundary Myths


  1. Boundaries and Your Family
  2. Boundaries and Your Friends
  3. Boundaries and Your Spouse
  4. Boundaries and Your Children
  5. Boundaries and Work
  6. Boundaries and Your Self
  7. Boundaries and God


  1. Resistance to Boundaries
  2. How to Measure Success with Boundaries
  3. A Day in a Life with Boundaries

They also include Notes and an Index to help with further study and application.

Learning to set boundaries in all relationships, including with ourselves, is important to our maturation process and helping others develop boundaries in their lives benefits themselves and others.  They also help stave off some psychological symptoms that can develop if good boundaries aren’t developed; i.e. “depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, addictions, impulsive disorders, guilt problems, shame issues, panic disorders, and marital and relational struggles” (p. 26).

Cloud and Townsend don’t address all of the above issues directly, but as you can see from the chapters listed above, the relationships within which any of these can develop are addressed.  They present numerous examples from people’s lives, presumably from their practice as psychologists, to enhance the ideas presented and to help clarify their discussions.  They also do a good job of presenting biblical references when necessary to help support the topics.

They have also developed a workbook and DVD curriculum and published additional books addressing boundaries specifically in marriage, with children and teens, and in dating.  They have individually and collectively also published other volumes on other relationship topics.

This was very helpful in gaining understanding in how to relate to others and how to gain some biblical control in different various areas of my life.  I wouldn’t say that I’m now an expert by any means but I do have additional information to help me in my pursuit of living a mature, balanced life in relation to God, myself, and others.

Cloud, Henry, and John Sims Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992. [Christianbook] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Alibris]