Having healthy boundaries is vital to any relationship, especially in a marriage. Boundaries teach others how to treat us and how to be with us. Having healthy boundaries in your marriage will give you both information about the emotional needs you have and expectations for your relationship.
When people don’t have boundaries, they will tend to feel taken advantage of and feel misunderstood in their relationship. They struggle using their voice with their partner to speak their needs. Instead they say, “Yes” to most everything and grumble as they sweep frustrations under the rug.
Boundaries in your marriage will also protect your relationship. When boundaries aren’t spoken or kept, there is pain and usually conflict. Setting appropriate boundaries for your marriage is an act of love for each other as you guard against relationship killers.
Some of the following categories may seem obvious, but believe me when I say that I have had to mediate MANY couples who have different ideas about where the line should be drawn in their relationship.
Here are some tips and questions to ask yourself when figuring out boundaries in your marriage:
How often do you want/ need to talk to each other? How is it ok and not ok for your partner to talk to you? Communication draws you closer to each other, so figuring out what your partner prefers and needs is important. Do you need eye contact when you talk to each other? What about tone, is that important for you to set limits around? Think through specific things that aren’t okay with you with communication. What about yelling? Criticism? Having deeper conversations? Having the TV on when trying to talk? Saying please and thank you?
Physical and Sexual Boundaries
What are the sexual expectations and limits? What do you like and dislike? Does something make you uncomfortable? What about affection boundaries? Saying nothing in this area can cause you to be very misunderstood. Make sure you let your mate know where your limits are so both of you can get your needs met.
Do you spend or save? How about debt? Do you have a budget? These are big relationship killers when boundaries are not set. Make sure you sit down and sort through what each other needs and expects.
How involved is each other’s family in your lives? What roles do they play? How much is it okay for your spouse to tell their family? Not talking about these boundaries could cause some sticky situations.
This isn’t just about not sleeping with and being physical with another person, it is also about the emotional boundaries to have with someone of the opposite sex. How much do you share? What about flirting? Are you ever alone with someone of the opposite sex? Is it okay to communicate one on one with someone of the opposite sex? What are the expectations of communicating with each other about contact with the opposite sex? Emotional affairs can be just as damaging as physical ones. There are so many slippery slopes that people fall down without realizing it before it’s too late. Make sure you protect your marriage by talking about these boundaries.
Who does what around the house? When does it get done? What methods are important in getting them done? These boundaries can keep conflict low when communicated well.
Do you fight fair? How about limits on how far someone goes when they are angry? Is it okay to go to bed angry? When is the best time to bring up a big issue? Is it okay to take a time out when things are getting heated? Setting boundaries here can protect both of you from saying things that will hurt more than the original complaint.
What is the rule when someone is running late? How about expectations about what your partner is doing with their time? How much one on one time do you need away from your partner?
Remember that boundaries aren’t about controlling your partner and forcing them to do everything you want them to do. They are about helping your partner know you and teaching them how you need to be loved. This may mean negotiating, sacrificing, and compromising as times in order for both of you to have your needs met.
Your partner may have some boundaries that conflict with yours. This might be good to understand more about WHY your partner has a certain boundary and need in place to help you know the importance of it.
I hope these boundary questions and ideas cause you to think about limits in your relationships. Remember to talk these areas over with your spouse to know where each other’s stands. Doing this will help you both move forward to a healthier marriage!