How Do I Apply CORE Strength To Justify Boundaries?

Morning friend,

My 92-year-old father just left. It was wonderful having him visit us here in Arizona. It reminds me of the legacy we leave to those who have watched us live our lives. My dad is not a perfect person, but he’s consistently lived out his godly values. My grandchildren, his great-grandchildren have gotten to know him better this year. Never underestimate the impact you leave on someone, even if you just talk with them for a bit. Big people and little people long to be seen, heard, and valued. When we give them that gift, it is priceless. It says “I see you. You are special and important”. Practice kindness this week. Practice pausing and listening, even to yourself. It makes a big difference.

Along those lines, we have been having some amazing conversations on FB this week in preparation for our webinar on the 18th. It’s amazing the healing that just takes place in people to know that they are not alone. That other women struggle with the same things they do. If you’re not on our official mailing list to get notified of when those public FB live broadcasts are and the topic, please be sure to sign up, so you can attend.

Question: I just finished the CORE coaching group and am a whole new person because of it. How do I respond when I set boundaries with my husband and he calls me controlling? Example: I would not dance with him at our son's wedding because of his excessive drinking. I had him move out of our bedroom because he would come to bed angry and dump on me then I had a hard time getting to sleep. But he calls me controlling and says his behavior is a symptom of my control. How do I handle this in CORE?

Answer: I love that you have found building your own CORE strength transformative. The application of God’s word IS life-changing. So often we learn Biblical principles, but we still struggle to know how to live in them out in real time.

For those of you unfamiliar with our CORE strength programs, I highly encourage you to attend our free webinar on August 18. Here is the link.

Briefly, CORE STRENGTH teaches women to be:

C- Courageously committed to truth, both internally and externally.

O- Open to the Holy Spirit and wise others because we cannot grow alone.

R – Responsible for themselves and respectful towards others without dishonoring themselves

E – Empathetic and compassionate towards others without enabling destructive behaviors to continue.

You ask, how do you stay in CORE while your husband defines your new-found strength as controlling? In a way he’s right. Your new CORE STRENGTH does help you CONTROL YOU, not him. Now he doesn’t like the new you because you aren’t as easily manipulated or controlled by him when you take responsibility for you and your well-being.

For example, when you say, I won’t dance with you when you choose to drink excessively, he says you’re being controlling. Here’s where you need to stay clear, even if he doesn’t get it. You are controlling you because that’s what God calls you to do. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). You are called to steward and be responsible for your precious life. No one can do that for you but you.

[Tweet “An unhealthy individual believes that he should be entitled to behave however he pleases and you just have to “accept it”.”] And there is a smidgen of truth in accepting that you cannot control him. However, walking in CORE STRENGTH teaches you that you are responsible for you, not for controlling him.

Let’s make this practical at your son’s wedding. You have learned to accept reality around his drinking. You have zero control over how much he chooses to drink. But now while learning to practice your own CORE STRENGTH, you have learned that you do have choices. You have a choice whether you choose to dance with him when he chooses to drink too much. That’s not controlling him, it’s controlling you. It’s practicing the R step of CORE, “I will take responsibility for myself and be respectful towards him without dishonoring myself”. 

Let’s break this down into the components of CORE. C – you are courageously committed to the truth (He drinks too much. He probably will drink too much at the wedding. [Tweet “You can’t control him, you can only control you.”] O – you are open to the Holy Spirit and wise others. How might you handle (steward) your own well-being during this wedding where he probably will drink too much? R – You choose to take Responsibility for yourself. Therefore, ahead of time you choose not to dance with him if he drinks too much because…. for example, he’s clumsy and steps on your toes and it hurts you. Or you do not want to dance with him when he drinks too much because he’s loud and obnoxious and it’s humiliating and you don’t want to do that at your son’s wedding. E. You choose to be empathetic and compassionate – he has a problem with drinking, he’s insecure and drinks to feel more social, he’s got a family history of alcoholism, but you don’t enable his drinking to rule you or overrule your boundaries. Therefore, you are not controlling him, but you are controlling you….and he doesn’t like it.

The same pattern holds with his anger. You can’t control his anger – only he can control his anger or his drinking. But you can control you by limiting his access to you when he’s angry, especially at night because you need your sleep and you need to take care of you.

A destructive individual believes many lies. One is that their needs/feelings are always more important than yours are. For example, his need to rage with his angry feelings is more important than your need for a good night’s sleep. His need/desire to dance with you at your son’s wedding is more important than your need/desire for peace or safety. Therefore, he will accuse and attack you for having boundaries for yourself and call that “controlling”

Here is where you need to take the next step in growing CORE Strength and that is to continue to walk in the truth. You can’t control what he thinks or believes. You can explain to him, you can argue with him but at the end of the day he probably will continue to believe you are controlling when you take responsibility for yourself and have boundaries on what you will and will not do. Or what you will and will not put up with.

Don’t lose heart if you don’t convince him that your newfound CORE Strength is not controlling. The person who MUST be convinced is you so that you continue to grow. 

Friend, what boundaries have you set so that destructive individuals have less ability to cause havoc in your mind or harm to your body or soul?

Have you heard about the BRAND NEW group coaching program?


This small group coaching program is the culmination of 25 years of private practice and hundreds of hours helping women just like you.


  1. Moon Beam on August 11, 2022 at 6:14 am

    I just decrease contact with the destructive individual. In my case the destructive person is my Mother. I check in on her every two months, restrict conversation to pleasantries and then journal the terrible things she said when I get home. It takes me about three days to recover from her navigating through the exposure to her behaviors. I am good to myself on those days. I often take a day off from work to recover and reduce all other stressors in my life. I don’t ruminate or chat with others about her, because few people can relate to the need to engage with a disturbed individual. I due the minimal obligation and let her simmer in her own misery most of the time.

    • Sunny on August 13, 2022 at 11:31 am

      I find myself in a similar situation but live out of state to it’s limited to phone and once a year visits.
      It helps me to talk to a trusted friend when necessary. Not allowing myself to a lot of ruminating but can get it off my chest and get any counsel that may help. I’m trying to learn the art of not engaging or entertaining when the negativity comes out. And start asking why”questions when I can stay calm and remember there is a history to her life.

    • Cristina on August 13, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      I like the way you handle yourself, especially not chatting with others (unless they are the WISE we seek out for advice — the “O” of CORE strength). But I think we all usually know the difference. It is also good that you take time out for yourself (having empathy for self is important, too!) How others behave (react) is not about us. They must take control of their emotions, as we must ours.

    • Susan on August 16, 2022 at 11:28 am

      I can relate
      To the mother thing…

  2. Cyndi Sloop on August 13, 2022 at 8:37 am

    Thank you for the question and for the clear answer! My husband has told me I’m controlling as well when I set a healthy boundary. (I find it interesting that he never feels the things he says and does are controlling manipulative.)

    • Moon Beam on August 15, 2022 at 6:43 pm

      It’s important not to believe any of his assessments about your intentions. His comments are manipulative, not honest. He doesn’t really think you are controlling. He knows control is his reign and dominion. He is just pushing back at youso he doesn’t have to elevate his abuse. Calling you controlling is just his first, lazy attempt to get you back in line with his agenda . If you continue your course of strength and confidence, he will up his abuse and get meaner.

  3. on August 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    You are so wise. Every time I read one of your blogs I find helpful advice that helps me in my struggle dealing with my son and his wife. Thank you!

  4. Sherry on August 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Leslie, You say “A destructive individual believes many lies. One is that their needs/feelings are always more important than yours are. For example, his need to rage with his angry feelings is more important than your need for good night’s sleep. His need/desire to dance with you at your son’s wedding is more important than your need/desire for peace or safety. ”
    But when I set boundaries, my husband says that I am saying that my needs are more important than his, therefore I am being selfish. He says his needs are just as important as mine. How do I answer this? I don’t think it’s true, but I’m confused.

    • JoAnn on August 15, 2022 at 11:29 am

      Sherry, You can answer that you are responsible for your own safety and well-being, and therefore you have set a boundary. (Of course, a proper husband would be looking out for your safety and well-being, but he isn’t doing that.) If he “needs” to rage, then he can go somewhere else and rage at a tree in the woods, but you will not be the recipient of his rage any longer. If his “need” is a reasonable one, then he should find a way to satisfy that need without hurting you or the children. Doing what he does to satisfy his “need” at the expense of others (you) is the selfish act. You might even ask him, “So what exactly is the need you are satisfying here by doing …..?”

    • Leslie Vernick on August 15, 2022 at 4:40 pm

      Sherry, I”ll follow up with your question in this week’s blog.

  5. Terri on October 10, 2022 at 7:30 am

    I deal with the same things. We don’t even go many places together anymore. Not even to our adult childrens homes very often. Drinking is too important to him to feel he’d be limited in how much he drinks. . I moved out of our bedroom. He would rage before bed, then he’d move out of the bedroom for a night here or there leaving me feeling very anxious and unable to sleep.
    Coming home from church yesterday- he had told someone at church that he sprayed something around our house for bugs (not that big of an issue around here (bugs)), and later I asked why he didn’t tell me he was going to do that. (I don’t like poisons in the yard, home) He said I know how you’d react and he didn’t care what I thought about it. So I didn’t continue the conversation. So he says I suppose you won’t talk to me. I said you just told me that you didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I don’t know if I can handle this crazy life. He does this often. Doesn’t want to hear what I have to say, so he can do what he wants.

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