How to set healthy boundaries in your marriage
To have a healthy relationship with your spouse, you need to be able to set boundaries. Boundaries are personal demarcations that delineate one area of your physical or your emotional space from another.
The first step of setting boundaries is actually the most important, because in accomplishing this step, you must clearly define to yourself what your boundaries are. Once you’re able to firmly distinguish your boundaries, you will (hopefully) be able to communicate them to your partner, and he or she will (hopefully) honor them.
There are different types of boundaries. There are physical boundaries, which include your body, your privacy, and your personal space. Some violations of your physical boundaries would be touching someone inappropriately or going through your partner’s phone.
There are emotional boundaries as well, and these boundaries will work mostly with your feelings. Negative associations with emotional boundaries include blaming others, sacrificing your own needs for someone else’s, and taking responsibility for another person’s actions.
Regardless if your partner is well-equipped to handle your boundaries, it’s important to articulate them in your relationship. Even if your spouse is being resistant to communicating about boundaries, either theirs or yours, it will do you good to set them anyways. Places like the Attach Place offer couples therapy where a licensed therapist creates a safe space to set boundaries in your relationship.
Here are some more tips to strengthen your marriage and set healthy boundaries.
Communicate: For any sort of relationship to function well, there must be communication. Some people find it difficult to talk about feelings, but even the simplest communication about how you’re feeling can be enlightening to your partner, and also a relief.
If you need to take some time to collect your thoughts, that’s fine, but don’t let that extend into avoiding the conversation altogether. If you need some prompts, write them down and, if you feel overwhelmed, let them guide you.
Never assume: The best communication is often the bluntest. The reason that communication works so well is because we rarely actually know what’s going inside another’s person’s head, even if we know that person really well. Never assume you know what your partner is feeling or thinking unless they have told you.
Follow through: If you’ve been able to be clear with your spouse and have laid out a plan of action, follow through. For example, if you’ve decided as a couple that you might benefit from couples therapy, take the time to make an appointment and coordinate with your spouse. Although sometimes it’s the thought that counts, this is not so in emotional work. Carry out what you’ve promised.
Take responsibility: Own up to what you’ve done in order to make the most progress in establishing healthy boundaries in your relationship. If you’ve done or said something, the best course of action is to admit to it and move on. It makes people angry to be faced with outright denial, and it does nothing to support an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Apologize genuinely: If you need to apologize for something, don’t make an apology unless you’re really sorry. An insincere apology does no one any good. This goes both ways – when your partner reaches out to genuinely apologize for an action, see if you truly do forgive them, and grant them forgiveness.
Know when to let go: Relationships sometimes run a natural course. Two people come together, experience and grow together, and sometimes their paths diverge. The best thing to do in this scenario is to part ways in as loving a manner as you can muster. Break-ups are unpleasant, to put it mildly, but imagine looking back at the experience from years in the future. As angry or sad as you are in the moment, try and remember the whole arc of the relationship. And then let go.
Relationships change and mature over time, and your relationship with yourself will often determine the health and wellness of your other relationships. Defining your personal boundaries and articulating them to your spouse is difficult. Individual therapy at a place like the Attach Place can help you set healthy boundaries, leading to a stronger marriage. You and your spouse are worth it.