Season 3 is Here! Tell a Friend!
February 16, 2022
How To Set Real Boundaries in Your Relationships (And Get People to Respect Them) | S3 E6

Tired of people trampling all over your boundaries? Steve and Mary share the key steps to establishing real boundaries with friends and family, so that you can decrease your stress and increase your peace.


Do you struggle to deal with the 'difficult people' in your life? 

In this episode, you'll learn the key steps to establish healthy personal boundaries with friends and family, so that you can decrease conflict, promote unity, and avoid struggles that come with a lack of respect for boundaries in your relationships. 

Setting personal and emotional boundaries with difficult family members, insensitive co-workers and overbearing friends can be challenging - but it is also absolutely necessary for a healthy, drama-free life. 

Our hosts, Steve and Mary Alessi, have lived and worked through over 30 years of marriage and ministry, during which they've had to set AND keep the boundaries strong in their work and family. 

If you've struggled with: 

  • The fear of setting boundaries
  • Indecision on how to set boundaries
  • Pushback from family members and friends when you try to communicate your boundaries
  • Uncertainty on what to say or do to improve a relationship

You'll get answers and encouragement in this episode!

In this episode, Steve and Mary walk you through the 4 "F"s of setting boundaries. 

  • Be Fair
  • Be Firm
  • Be Friendly
  • Be Flexible

If this episode helped you, make sure to share it with a loved one or friend who needs help setting boundaries and sticking with them!

Additional Resources on Relationships

Make sure to check out Episode 2 and 3 of Season 3 for more on toxic relationships and becoming more healthy in your emotional life and family.

https://alessifamilybusiness.com/s3e2

https://alessifamilybusiness.com/s3e3

 

 

 

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More Resources

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http://chrisalessi.com

 

 

Transcript

Steve Alessi  

Welcome to another episode of The Family Business with the Alessis, where family is everybody's business. I'm Steve Alessi, and I'm here with my wife, Mary Alessi, and today, we're going to be talking about boundaries, Mary. And since we are pastors, and we speak to a general audience on Sundays, this is one of those subjects where we can't really get too deep into the woods, because— 

 

Mary Alessi  

Don't have time. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We don't have time, true. Don't have time. But some people don't always understand the balance that goes into what we're going to talk about today. So, before we get into it, I want to light something. If you're watching us on YouTube, you're able to see that I have a little flicker deal here. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, boy. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's a little fireplace, a mini fireplace, like we're having a fire. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's definitely a mini fireplace. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, we've already loaded this nice little deal up with alcohol. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Just rubbing alcohol, is all we need. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Rubbing alcohol, and it should burn for about 30 minutes. Let's see. All right, we have fire going. Here it comes. And it should burn about 30 minutes, which should be the length of this podcast. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Today. 

 

Mary Alessi  

We don't want to scare anybody. 

 

Steve Alessi  

No. It's cool. Look. 

 

Mary Alessi  

But you shouldn't have to. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We got a fire right here. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Isn't that awesome? 

 

Steve Alessi  

In the room. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I love that thing.

 

Steve Alessi  

In the podcast room. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I love that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

When everything blows up, we'll get the explosion on camera, here.

 

Mary Alessi  

If you would like one, let us know. We have those as well.

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes, we have those available. You can actually purchase them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes, you can. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Great around the dinner table. Great around family chats. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, that's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

As a matter of fact, maybe that's what you need. Whenever you want to have a family chat. 

 

Mary Alessi  

There you go. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Or something has to be addressed, pull it out, light it, and say, "All right. It's going to get hot in here."

 

Mary Alessi  

It's going to get hot in here. But a little tip, you can actually cook s'mores on this. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Come on.

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes, you can. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, after you blow up. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Cook s'mores together. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Why not? 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's very nice. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You can, it's not toxic. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Well, it's going to get a little hot up in here today, because we're going to go back to a subject matter that we have gotten a lot of attention from. 

 

Mary Alessi  

A lot of feedback. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Matter of fact, it's actually— I'm going to start this, because we're going to be talking about boundaries, alright? And how important it is to keep them, because I got a question from somebody who went to the AlessiFamilyBusiness.com website, and they clicked the button there that says, "Ask the Alessis," and so, they asked this question. They said, "We read, 'Guard your heart,' we read 'Guard your heart.' But sometimes it's hard when family is involved. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"Can you touch on the subject of guarding your heart when it comes to family and those outside of family? It's been hard to deal with an in-law in our family, and yet honor them. How do we best handle these situations?" 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, going right in line with some of the stuff we dealt with in episodes three and four, where we talked about dealing with toxic relationships, in episode three, we talked about how to identify toxic relationships. And then, in episode four, we talked about how to leave them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And this is a part that I think a church environment— sometimes people have a hard time with, because they think it's not right. You got to love everybody. It's hard to leave them, move on, and embrace what's ahead of you. But we got to talk about that. Because, if it's unhealthy, it's going to make you unhealthy. So, they have to be addressed. And some people's already reached out to you, talking about how these couple of episodes have really been helpful to them. Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Well, the feedback has been in the moment, as soon as they listened to one of the episodes on toxic relationships, I mean, I got bombarded with texts, immediately, and a few DMS on social media. "Thank you so much. You set me free, you don't understand. I feel I didn't have words for this. I didn't know how to handle this. Thank you for your bravery, and you sharing your testimony." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I got several like that, one particular person reached out and said the minute they listened to it, they just broke down and started crying. And that's really to us why we do this. And if our experiences, and what we've learned through the years, can help other people through this type of experience, in this type of platform, that's really why we're doing this, more than ever, is to do that. But, you know, Steve, when you asked the question that the person asked, How do you guard your heart with a relative? That's what we all ask, how do we guard our heart, because we don't want to get hurt by people that we love. 

 

We don't want to hurt people we love, and we don't want to be hurt by people that we love. Sometimes we can naively go into a relationship with someone, and we think guarding our heart means I have to harden my heart. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Hmm, good. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And it does not mean that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's a good one. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Guarding your heart is not hardening your heart. And, as being in the line of  a career that you, and I've chosen, we've been in ministry, we were raised in ministry, and now we've pastored for 30-some-years, raising our kids, we've had to help them understand as pastors, because we come into this relationship with our heart wide open. And then people say things, there's a lot of criticisms along the way, there's questioning of your leadership, things you do. So, if we were not careful, if we did not learn— if we had not learned how to set those boundaries, and teach our children, we would have quit a long time ago. 

 

Because we can't be wounded birds, all the time, afraid to take the arrows. We've had to learn. And we'll break this down even more today, but we've had to learn how to love everybody, but be okay with the fact that not everybody loves us. And we can go on, and be happy, and not be bitter. And our happiness is not predicated upon that person in our life that thinks we're wonderful, or that brings pain to the relationship. We've learned over time, and I would say that's number one, it does take time to get to that place of guarding your heart, versus hardening your heart.

 

And that's tough for everybody. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I think we've all been through a season of hardening, because we think that's the only way we ward off this bad feeling. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That I can't have this healthy relationship. But the goal is to understand that it's not you that's not healthy, it's them that's not healthy, and treating them, almost like you would a sick person, with compassion, and not expecting any more from them than they can give.

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay, so let's jump into it. Here's what I'd like us to think in terms of, if it's living together, or working together, in the same home, or in the same office, and so forth. There has to be a "we before me" understanding. That's vital to healthy relationships. It's we. It's not just, "how am I doing?" And, "I'm feeling good." And, "I'm healthy," and whole. In my mind. I'm thinking good thoughts. It's not just, "me." It's, "what about you?" 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And unhealthy people, people that we need to set boundaries with, it's never about "we," it's always about "me." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You find themselves turning every conversation towards them. Everything is, "this is what happened to me." You're trying to tell them what happened to you on the job. But then, they somehow turn into, "Oh, that was nothing but hear, let me tell you what I did, and what I had to experience." It's never coming from a "we," being happy, it's "me," being happy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And the problem with dealing with unhealthy people is, they're never going to get happy if they're unhealthy. You don't deserve to be happy, you deserve to be healthy. When you're healthy in life, spirit, soul, body, not just physically, spiritual body, your emotions, your mindset, all of that, when you're healthy, you're going to find happiness. But some of the most unhealthy people, they're unhappy, because they make the critical, vital, mistake of making everything about themselves. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I don't know if it's faulty parenting, I don't know if it's just a system that they bought into. But, you know, I learned as a kid, okay, that everything that was going on in the house, I couldn't be the center of attention. And I was a middle child, I was the boy, the only boy, middle child. I thought I could make things about me. But I learned real quick, I couldn't be the center of attention. That was a blessing. 

 

Because you can't be the center of attention in life and make everything about you. Or else it's me, me, me, me, me. And that causes pain in the other people that are around you, and why then are boundaries important? Well, look, on the highways and on the roads, there are boundaries that are put in place to protect people while they are traveling on the road. On the highways, you've got concrete barriers, that separate lanes, north and south. One coming, one going, You do that. On the back roads, you have painted lines that are there with little bumpers on him. 

 

All of those things are put there because you're trying to protect the person that is in their lane, going in the direction they're going. Now, the higher the speed, the bigger, the more solid, the concrete barrier to protect the individuals from the higher rate of speed. It's the same with boundaries in relationship. If it's just you in life, and that's all you want, is just you, you don't need boundaries. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But you're not going to be happy. Because that's not healthy. You can't go through life. Here we are, in the love month, Valentine's month, we're doing all of that. You can't go through life without sharing your life with someone. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, right away, even as you begin your relationship with someone, because now you're taking life up a little, go a little faster than when you were single. Now, you need some measure of boundaries in place, and they're healthy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Even us working together as a family, we have to have boundaries in place, certain things we should talk about, when and where, and certain things we shouldn't, when and where. Certain ways we should be thinking about the other person in a meeting, that's family. And certain things we shouldn't be thinking, those are boundaries that are needed. Now you're married, then you start having kids, you start being introduced to in-laws, and then you start being introduced to parents, now that being in-law to you, and you don't know them, you love their kid, but you don't know them, may not love them as much. Now even more boundaries are needed. Because now you've got more to risk more to lose, there's more damage that could happen and cause more pain, if you don't respect the boundary. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, what boundaries do, Mary, it lets the good in, but it keeps the bad out.

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. It safeguards all the relationships in your life, because I'm thinking, as you're talking, we've added two in-laws to our life. For the first time, in one year, both our kids got married. And it would be really easy for us to just relax at this season, and not pay attention to, maybe, some of the areas where we need to put roadblocks, and we need to put signs up. 

 

Because we have our two kids that are learning to be married. And they're starting back where we left 34, almost 35 years ago. And, when I think about the importance of us taking what we've learned, and what we teach, and putting it into practice, from right now, to set into motion, the boundaries about talking about one another, with the rest of the family, or, you know, just having those conversations about each other. Well, that leads to conflict, and it leads to drama. 

 

And, you know, the problem with being a "me" person, is that you bring drama, everywhere you go. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You bring a lot of frustration everywhere you go. And then, the people in your life don't know how to set the boundaries, they would love to set boundaries with you, but they don't know how. And things can get out of hand really fast. And it's hard to put it back into a good place if you don't start from the beginning of the relationship. And if you haven't started from the beginning of your relationship, going back— how do we go back and put some boundaries in place, put those roadblocks in place where we're saying, "Okay, that's dangerous over there, I'm not going to touch it with a 10-foot pole." 

 

But at the same time, I'm going to be honest, so I give this relationship a chance to have honesty, and have an honest dialogue. You know, you're a person that calls things out. When we first got married, I was terrified of that, because I was like, "Don't talk about anything." If you're feeling something's off in the room, and there's disrespect, or there's no boundaries, boundaries, what are those? 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You know, I wasn't raised with that. You talked about the person after they left. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Badly. You discussed it, and it brought some kind of endorphin to you. But then, when we got married— 

 

Steve Alessi  

Not me, you saying that? 

 

Mary Alessi  

I'm talking about my family. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Thank you. Okay. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I grew up with that. You know, I grew up with— You would just discuss it...

 

Steve Alessi  

When the person left the room, your family didn't discuss it.

 

Mary Alessi  

Talked about it, instead of ever addressing it. And we've talked about that on this podcast. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Have you dealt with it? Have you talked about it with that person? Is it something you've dealt with? So, I was raised that you just talk about it. You don't do anything about it. But when you're just sharing about boundaries and those roadblocks, how does a person, in the moment, put that boundary in place with a person that might not understand boundaries. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. I think, for one thing, you mentioned talking, dialoguing incessantly, talking about it, is important. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

There were times when we would sit down at the table with our kids, and I would say, "I want to talk about something," and they'd all say, "Not again." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, and I'd be the first one going, "Oh." 

 

Steve Alessi  

"Oh, gosh, here we go." Yep. But it was just keeping it out there. It was, we got to talk about this. Some think, "Well, let your people, let them—" you know, "That's their life. Let them go about your life." Well, when it infringes upon your life, or my life, in this consent, I have a responsibility to make sure things are discussed or, at least, laid out in the open. 

 

Because here's the thing, I can't tell you. "You can't treat me this way." If I haven't sat down and laid out the boundaries. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I can't say don't violate that boundary. If they don't know what they are. I can't say, "Don't treat me that way," or, "Don't talk to me that way." 

 

If we don't have an understanding that when you talk to me that way, that's violating a boundary. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

The fact that they talk to you that way shows there's no boundary, and they can violate that boundary. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So you can't expect something to happen without intentionality, and talking about it. So, you have to say to an individual that constantly is violating boundaries, you have to almost go to them and say, "All right, can I make sure you know that that was wrong?" 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"And I am going to ask your permission to let me just share something with you. And that is, that that didn't hit me right. That hurt me. So, please, for the sake of our relationship, let's not do that in the future." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right.

 

Steve Alessi  

If you don't pinpoint the bad behavior in a nice way, without it always turning into an argument— 

 

Mary Alessi  

It doesn't have to be combative, or corrective. 

 

Steve Alessi  

No. If you don't do it, then you cannot expect them to know it. And that's why, I think, for me, I was always worried that— or, not worried, but I was concerned that if the kids, growing up, didn't know that a behavior was wrong, then it would become normal to them. And, you know, it's not normal to talk bad behind somebody's back. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, it's not. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's cowardly. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It is. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's cowardly to have somebody walk into your world, do something, and then when they leave, you talk about how bad they are. It's cowardly, because you weren't man or woman enough, in the moment, to stand up and say, "That's wrong." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right.

 

Steve Alessi  

 That's where it's hard. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because it's easier. You don't want to put yourself out there. The natural thing is to want to talk about bad about people, but I thought, "Okay, the kids need to know, in our home, that's just wrong." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We can't say we're pastors, trying to help people, and then talk nasty or bad, you know, because they heard us behind their back. No, that's why we said, "All right, in our house, if a person's name keeps coming up, I'm finally going to say, 'Enough with that person's name. What are you doing about it?'"

 

Mary Alessi  

Right.

 

Steve Alessi  

We have to go and set some measure of boundary that's in place. So, the reason a lot of people won't have the conversation with their spouse, or their boss, even, is they're afraid to.

 

Mary Alessi  

And that's, that's important to talk about, though, the fear of that. And why you would be afraid that you couldn't set a boundary with someone? For some people, the relationship has been toxic, or bad, for so long. It's like going back and cleaning up years of a room, that's going to take you years. And it might. But you've got to set the boundaries at some point, and set the level of respect, and the expectation start today. 

 

For other people, you're at the starting line, and you can set it now with a healthy boundary, because you see that you might be embarking into a relationship where that other person doesn't quite understand boundaries, and that's important to do that. And language is everything. Because I like to say, in setting boundaries, "Listen, I want to get this right. I want us to start off and get this right. I don't want to be misunderstood. And I know you don't want to be misunderstood." 

 

I mean, I had this conversation with my daughters the other day, because now they're older, getting married, having babies, it's a different relationship. So, the relationship has to be redefined. We work together, we have expectations of one another. They're waiting on me to answer the phone, and do things, one called me right now, and I've got things that are going on, I can easily slip into mom, daughter, "Guys quit putting pressure on me. I've done so much for you, leave me alone." Or, "mom, why'd we get you a phone? You never answer it." 

 

We need to stop and have a healthy conversation with one another, and I can't feel offended or scolded. And neither can they. And it's so easy to slip into a fence real quick. And then, honestly, it's just that process of guarding my heart, not hardening my heart, not getting mad at them, which is not easy. But I said, "Okay, I've got to practice what I preach. Let's have a conversation, you guys. How can I be better?" All right, now let me explain some things, because I'm in a different season of my life. And I would like to be able to do one thing at a time, that's not my life. So, we came to a real good understanding. 

 

But it took us about an hour to get there. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So, not being afraid to have those conversations, that goes back to fear. And sometimes you're going to have a long conversation, and not get anywhere. But you did your part. You were honest and transparent, and you tried.

 

Steve Alessi  

If fear keeps you from addressing something, then what you're saying is, I would rather have a lifetime of misery, instead of an hour of conflict to try to resolve things. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. That's brilliant. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You got to press past that fear. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because what you're doing is, you're setting the boundaries in place, and when you set that boundary in place, what you're really saying to a person is, it's a biblical statement, it says, "Let your Yes be your Yes, and your No be your No." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Here's what we will be able to tolerate if we work together, but that? That's out of bounds. That's a no. And you can't have a good, healthy environment where those are not defined. So, sometimes, in order to let them know what is a yes, or what's a win, and what's a no, what's a loss, what you're willing to tolerate, and what you're not willing to tolerate, for the sake of the relationship, you're going to have to say, "Wait, wait, pause, listen, this doesn't work for me. I know it's not working for you. So, can we kind of come up to an understanding here that this is behavior that we should run from and stay away from?"

 

Because what I know is this, Mary, I'm responsible for my actions. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I'm not responsible for yours. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right.

 

Steve Alessi  

I can only control what I do. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, if I can't live up to my side of the bargain, by setting boundaries in place, then I can't blame you for constantly overstepping them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I can't talk about you behind your back because you're hurting me, or you're saying things to me that are embarrassing, or pulling— no, my responsibility, the things I can control, is saying, in the best way possible, face to face, text, whatever works for you, phone call, if you're worried about the boundaries being violated, somebody's being a little too aggressive, maybe you got to take it to another level. Write it out. 

 

And you and I have had to handle conflicts in our own life, where., when we're face to face with each other, we're not getting to the root of the issue, we get away from each other, and that's when the text feed starts. And every couple, I think, does that these days. They argue over text, and it's, "Oh, this is what I meant." No, that's not what you said. And then we go back and forth, back and forth. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Which isn't awful. 

 

Steve Alessi  

No, it's not. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's probably a good thing, if you text once in a while.

 

Steve Alessi  

But, listen, you can only be responsible for your actions. You are only responsible for your feelings, and not responsible for the actions and feelings of other people. And I think the individual that sent us this question, I would say to them, you're going to be responsible, you're the one that's going to have to just prepare your heart, and know that, when you're around those individuals, they may do things that are going to set you off, they may do things and say things that are going to hurt you. 

 

But you prepare your heart in advance. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And then you figure out a way to have a conversation with them. And if you think they're not going to respect you, then the boundary that has to be set, now you're traveling at a high rate of speed, it may have to be a little more set in concrete. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You only give them so much time, and so much of your attention, so much of your heart. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because people that are conflicted in that way, especially if they're older than you, and they're set in stone, it's going to be hard for you to change them.

 

Mary Alessi  

Especially if it's a parental— if you're the kid, and you're the son or the daughter. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You know, the corner does not turn. You don't get to a crossroads, and then, suddenly, a person that's behaved a certain way, all your life, and has ramped it up at every opportunity to draw you back in, they're not just going to wake up one day and go, "I've been bad. I need to fix that." That will not happen. Cannot happen, because they're wired to be this way. And you just have to withdraw and guard your heart, but also put those roadblocks in place.

 

And you know, Steve, something that's very hard for people, and I got asked this, how do you do it when you know you have to really put a boundary in place with a parent or a loved one that is creating a lot of drama, or just pain in the relationship? And I know this is tough, and I'm not getting this information from, off the top of my head. You and I have spent a lot of time reading, studying, listening, to professionals in the psychiatric ward, as well as the— Ward, listen to me. World. I can say it, we've never spent time in a psychiatric ward. Let me just be clear, okay? 

 

In the world of real understanding, and counseling, and resourcing, we've spent a lot of time and we've read a lot of books, and we've applied that to our lives, and it has benefited us, and it worked. But the space, and the time, of having to— you talked about a bigger roadblock, or a thicker block in between that person— really represents time and space. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That you might have to put someone on pause, to the point where you aren't going to take their calls for a little while, and you're not going to return their texts. And they might call every other family member, and say what a horrible person you are, but you might have to hold your ground a little bit longer to reset the relationship. 

 

And you might have to do that for six months to a year, with the world spinning around, and horrible things being said, and you want to defend yourself, and speak up, and say, "How dare you?" Well, all you're going to do is set yourself back. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Way, way back. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So, I just want to say that, to even some of the ones who listen to the other episodes, and ask that question, that might be hard to do, but it's really a criteria.

 

Steve Alessi  

Well, what we're doing is this, Mary, we're not calling a person out, we're calling them up. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's so good. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We're trying to take them to even another level of living, because if they're conflicting me, I promise you, they're conflicting others. And they may not see it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And they're conflicted. 

 

Steve Alessi  

They're conflicted. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So you're not saying, "All right, I'm calling you out on this," actually, in the long run, you're calling them up. Here's what I want you to see, we could have a better relationship, if this is not an issue, if these boundaries are respected. You're going to be happier, I'm going to be happier, the kids, the family, the uncles, aunts, everybody's going to be happier if we do this. 

 

So we're saying, "Hey, we're all, our whole family, the whole business, the whole ministry, the whole department, if we set these boundaries that are right, we lay them out, we're all going to be better because of it." So, here's what we need to realize: If we are going to have a conversation, to set some boundaries in place, and call the person up, then we have to practice what would be the three F's, maybe even four F's. Number one F, you got to be fair. Maybe you did something to cause this bad behavior on someone else's part. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Played a part in it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You played a part. So, just be fair, go into the table, and we learned a long time ago, don't say things like "you, you, you, you." Don't point the finger of blame all the time. That's not being fair, it takes two to tango. So, go into the conversation saying, "I want to be fair." The second F is, I want to be firm. Okay, once I set it in place, this cannot be a boundary that is moved. We can't tamper with it. And this is not just how I feel, because feelings are fickle. They change. This is what I know. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

This isn't going to be tolerated. We have to change it now. And then after your firm, you got to be friendly. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And when you're friendly, what you're trying to do is call the person up. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You're not making them an enemy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right.

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't want them to be an enemy, especially when they're family. You don't want them to be an enemy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And the right language is so important. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And so, that means you go into it being more friendly. And the other F that really wasn't a part of this, we have to introduce, is, flexible. They probably aren't going to get it the first time. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

If it's a lifetime of practice on their part, it's going to take a while, which is why when you say, "Okay, this is going to take six months," it probably is. It's going to take at least six months, and what you have to do in the meantime is, just be flexible, okay? You know, I had the conversation last week, "They did it, they did it again. They've overstepped the boundary." All right. 

 

Well, wait a minute. I realize this is going to take some time. So let me be more flexible. I'm going to stay in my ground, I'm still going to be strong, keep my posture of respectability, but I'm going to give them a chance to get it right. And then, some time away will be helpful. So that then when you get in that position again, you're keeping your eyes open, which then means, for you as well, don't overstep boundaries. And humor sometimes gets in the way of this.

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, I've done that. Oh, I know. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I know I do. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah.

 

Steve Alessi  

I'll make some comment, joke, about—

 

Mary Alessi  

Playful, stabby, comment, be jokey. Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And all it does is, it keeps the wound fresh. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Instead of letting really—

 

Mary Alessi  

"Did you really mean that, or was it just joking?" No, that's the respect part. I think, when we talk about boundaries, we have to think, if I want to be spoken respectfully to, I have to put on the mindset of, I've got to speak respectfully. And it's not always easy, because sometimes we're not prepared when we encounter that person. You know, it catches us off guard. But we really do have to be thinking in terms of health, wellness, and doing our part, like you said, being fair and being flexible. But also, understanding that there are lines for me, I can't cross them either. 

 

This isn't just about, "Okay, I built a line and a wall for you, and you can't come over here." Guess what? I'm not going to cross it either. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I'm going to be respectful of the boundaries that I've put in place because they're for both of us. They might not just be for me. They're for you, too, this helps both of us get to a healthy place in our relationship,

 

Steve Alessi  

What boundaries do is, they really do help guide and guard the people in the relationship. They set a framework for people to grow, to interact, to enjoy what life really should be about, which has to be healthy. And it's not a one size fits all. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No.

 

Steve Alessi  

Just because I have this with one individual doesn't mean I can have the same with each individual that I may have some kind of issue with, which then sets me to say this, you know, if you have to have a boundary set with everybody... 

 

Mary Alessi  

If you are fenced in, something is not right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Something is not right. Maybe better check yourself before you wreck yourself. Maybe you got some conflict that is causing other people to get a little upset along the way.

 

Mary Alessi  

If you are boundary happy.

 

Steve Alessi  

Boundaries are your excuses, or reasons, for having no friends. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, boy. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Golly.

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. I think that's trouble. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. Well, we never want boundaries to penalize people, we don't. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It really needs to promote them, and it needs to build on the relationship. And not everybody is going to get into this. Some are not going to be able to make the step, they're not going to be able to move into that next level. But we've learned this: Life is lived forward. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But it's understood backwards. When we look back over our shoulder, and we see how dysfunctional people and relationships have hurt them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's why today we say, "Guys, this is what you got to do to move forward." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because we've seen too much carnage in the past, of people that just don't get this. So, what's important is, if you set boundaries now, you can move forward in a healthy way. And one day, look back over your shoulder and say, you're thankful. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And you really love that person. And you've got a decent relationship with them. Not the ones you got to run from, and leave. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, no, no. Not the narcissists.

 

Steve Alessi  

I'm talking about the ones that you're kind of stuck with in the family.

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. Yeah. That you want to have a better relationship, really do. And there's potential to have. Because not every relationship is there. Even the possibility of having a healthy connection.

 

Steve Alessi  

Well, you and I have entered such a great season, and I applaud you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I applaud you.

 

Steve Alessi  

Because you have—

 

Mary Alessi  

Bravo.

 

Steve Alessi  

As we have talked about this information, we've been able to even set personal boundaries, and the way that we respond to each other. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Absolutely. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And they have never been discussed. We've just kind of realized that, hey, if we have some kind of pushback on one another, or an argument. 

 

Mary Alessi  

A what?

 

Steve Alessi  

We realize, alright, that argument does not have to set the tone— 

 

Mary Alessi  

For the day. 

 

Steve Alessi  

For the day, or in your case, the week. It doesn't have to set the tone for the next few days. It can be dealt with, mentally, in the moment. And you did it yesterday, so I applaud you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

What did I do? 

 

Steve Alessi  

I don't know. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Tell the people. 

 

Steve Alessi  

They'll come back on a separate episode where you—

 

Mary Alessi  

Another question is, what did you do? Keep me from doing.

 

Steve Alessi  

No, you did great. Your response was great. It was our daughter's birthday, you couldn't keep misreading what I said earlier in the day. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. Overreactor.

 

Steve Alessi  

All right. That's it. We are Steve and Mary Alessi. 

 

Mary Alessi  

On the next episode, we're going to talk about accountability, and owning our word.

 

Steve Alessi  

Thanks for joining us today. Hope you were encouraged. And you know what? We don't say this enough, but for those of you who have heard this podcast, listen, open your heart to this: Mary and I really are praying for you, as you make these very difficult decisions to set boundaries in your relationships. Stay strong.