TFC, we all like to think we're so not the children we once were. We see a three-year-old pushing disciplinary boundaries with his or her parents and we nod knowingly. That's what children do, we say.

To me, the problem is adults do the same things a three-year-old does every chance we get. We are a competitive species and most of us take every occasion we have to test boundaries, and often for the same reason a three-year-old does...we want to see if the boundary is still there. If it is, the three-year-old inside all of us is reassured and we back off...until the next time.

Lady, if you don’t enforce the boundaries with a three-year-old, the toddler’s development ultimately suffers, right? The result of keeping a particular boundary in place might be the child never develops a sense of self-discipline that leads to a good work ethic that leads to a productive job that leads to a great career that leads to...etc., etc. If you don’t reinforce boundaries in a relationship, it can lead in a few short steps to a marriage that is a relationship in name only.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Correcting that three-year-old can be done lovingly and very gently...and I’m not suggesting keeping boundaries in a marriage means a nuclear attack at every transgression, an unrelenting baleful vigilance, or anything else down that road, okay?

Excellent! Your edited note is a very crucial thing to know about yourself. I don’t know what your friend told you, but I believe you should get feedback from your IC about this also. You can’t afford to be the three-year-old pushing the boundaries to see if they’re still there, right?