Should there be boundaries in marriage?
100% yes. All relationships require boundaries for optimal success and health.
while the wordlimitsmay sound a bit intimidating, they actually serve an important purpose in a marriage or relationship. In fact, boundaries should be present in all of our interpersonal relationships, not just our romantic ones.
And as we'll soon find out, boundaries aren't just important, they actually strengthen and improve a marriage.
Table of contents
what are limits
The first task is to define boundaries.
In the physical definition, borders usually include the outermost edges of a property or nation, city, or town. We can also think of them as boundaries of where we can and cannot go. These are limits that we must not cross.
While we tend to think of borders as visible territory, more often in a relationship, borders are invisible. However, they are just as important.
In a relational sense, boundaries are the acceptable boundaries we set to differentiate ourselves from other people and ultimately to protect our own needs and desires. Boundaries are an element of self-care; They ensure that a person's autonomy and personal well-being are preserved.
Boundaries give us confidence and create a healthy separation between ourselves and other people. Boundaries indicate whereOfend and whereIStart.
Boundaries in a relationship are crucial because they help individuals remain differentiated. Boundaries allow a person to embody their self-worth and to know what is necessary to respect and protect their own desires, needs, and beliefs. Without boundaries, people can easily become entangled or interact in ways that create unhealthy dynamics. Ultimately, boundaries help couples avoid issues like codependency, anger, fear, conflict, and more.
It may seem that borders are there to keep us separate, and while that is true to a degree, they are also a way for us to become closer and more fully united with our partner. Because it's only when we're able to have a healthy sense of self and the ability to communicate our needs/limitations that we can really have thatgreat relationshipwe desire.
As Khalil Gibran said, "Leave space in your togetherness." This space gives both partners room to grow and flourish.
Even in the union of marriage, where two are meant to become one, there remains a deep need for boundaries. Let's take a closer look at what these might be and how to develop them in your own marriage.
5 important boundaries to consider in marriage
The boundaries you develop in your marriage are likely to vary widely based on your own personality, needs, and circumstances as a couple. But the following 7 relationship boundaries can serve as a guide and help you see where you may need to work on setting clearer boundaries. It is also important to note that boundaries can be fluid and can change and adapt as needed.
Above all, the most important part of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is communicating about them clearly and often. Discuss frequently what you need in your marriage. Discuss your expectations. Be very clear about what you will and will not tolerate in a partner. Listen to what your partner needs and how to respect their boundaries. This is likely to be an ongoing process throughout the life of your marriage. P.S. More on thishow to communicate better here.
Privacy is perhaps one of the easiest boundaries to understand. We all want and deserve our individual privacy. So how do you ensure that privacy is respected and available to both partners? By setting boundaries in relation to privacy matters.
What is privacy like in your relationship? Do you think couples should share everything? Do you value honesty above all (at all costs)?
Some people are naturally more private than others. My husband is one of them. While I wouldn't hesitate to share virtually any thought that crosses my mind (and often did!), Nathan keeps things closer to the waistcoat. He values privacy very much and therefore I had to learn what his limitations are. This can mean not pushing him to find out exactly "what he's thinking" and acknowledging that his mental space is his. While I might want to share everything with my husband, he keeps some things to himself and that's fine. It has to be, because that is his personal limit.
On a more tangible level, many couples' privacy extends to things like phones and social media.
Will you both share passwords? Does your wife have free access to your text messages and emails?
These can be very personal issues that need to be discussed as a couple. Discuss what data protection means for you in these areas and how you can come to a solution that suits both of you.
It's important to note that this is an area where boundaries can easily be flouted. For example, if your partner offers you free access to their phone and messages, that's great. but it doesn't give you a license to constantly pop into their inbox. This can be a major overstepping, and such behavior is indicative of other issues such as: B. A lack of trust in your relationship or a need for control.
Conversely, if your partner's boundaries include giving you limited access to their personal devices, you must learn to respect that. You can manage this boundary in a way that satisfies both of you and doesn't lead to distrust and paranoia. If you suffer from ituncertaintyand feel the need to track your partner's every move, you'll likely find that boundary difficult. But again, this behavior clearly points to a deeper problem. (More on that another time). As always, clear and open communication is everything.
Time limits are also very important.
Time is a valuable commodity, and that's why we don't want to waste our own – or that of our partners. But respecting time often means setting certain boundaries.
What comes to mind is work time and alone time. For both Nathan and me, these periods are important, and we often need to be clear about our needs. This is especially important as we both work from home. We know how to respect each other's working hours by not burdening them with our own worries and demands (except for emergencies, of course). During working hours, we strive to limit interruptions and give each other the space we need to get the job done.
Nathan is an introvert who desperately needs alone time to rejuvenate and rejuvenate. This is a boundary he created for himself because he knows it is essential to his well-being. If he doesn't have time for himself, his energy is drained and he can't do his best. I know that and respect that, so I'm interested in giving him the alone time he needs. This can sometimes require me to be flexible.
space (physical & emotional)
Space is a boundary that in many ways is closely related to time and privacy. IfI respect my husband's time, I often respect his space and privacy at the same time.
But space can also mean more than allowing your spouse to be physically away from you. (Sure, when Nathan isn't in the mood for a cuddle, I don't hang out with him). But I also have to be willing to allow emotional freedom. This can be the really difficult.
Emotional space means allowing your partner to have their own feelings, emotions, and reactions. It means accepting how they react to things, even if you don't understand or like them. When your partner is upset, it means giving them the freedom to process and deal with their emotions as they see fit. It means offering support but not trying to step in and solve problems.
This can be a challenge for all of us. You may have heard that men tend to be more "solution-oriented" than women. This can lead to a husband trying to help his wife with an emotional problem by offering ideas on how to solve it. Nathan and I both do that for each other sometimes, so it's definitely not a gender habit. Our approach is well intentioned; We care a lot about each other and just want to help make things better. However, sometimes your partner doesn't need solutions. At such times they need the space to be alone with their thoughts or the quiet space together where you can just hold them and listen to them.
Not sure what you need right now? Just ask.
Such a space is also necessary in conflict situations. Tofight fairand protect each other's boundaries, we must strive not to invalidate each other's feelings. Instead, make room for those emotions. Let them be and don't negate them.
Sexuality also demands limits.
In marriage, sex is a gift; an expression of the deepest love and longing for your spouse.
But your spouse is not there to be your sexual plaything. It's not sex on demand in a marriage, you get it when you want it without your partner's say.
While sex is the coming together of two people, the merging of yourself into one person, there are still personal boundaries that need to be respected... and talked about.
Boundaries to discuss with your partner include things like: what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable in bed? How often are you available for sex? Which frequency is satisfactory for you? How will you deal with differences in sex drive, if there are any?
Sexual boundaries keep your sex life as a couple thriving and meaningful and enjoyable for both of you.
Friendships/influences from outside
Sometimes boundaries are not just there to protect us from others, but also from ourselves or things that might harm our relationship. One of the best examples is how you manage friendships with others. Especially friendships of the opposite sex.
Be sure to discuss this with your spouse. What is acceptable when it comes to socializing outside of the home? One thing to discuss is time with friends/social life in general. (Agood to talk about it before getting engaged, As a matter of fact). Friendships are so important in our lives, and they provide a necessary source of support and companionship that differs from what our spouse provides.
But where are your social boundaries? Do you need to check in before going out with friends? Do all your friends have to be "mutual" or are you cool with disconnected ties?
A particularly important topic of conversation are friendships with members of the opposite sex. Many people have strong opinions on this, so make sure you and your partner know (and respect) each other's boundaries in this area.
I think friendship with members of the opposite sex is okay, but there are limits. I don't want my husband texting another woman on a regular basis or eating out with her etc. Of course there are exceptions, especially for mutual friends or those I know well, but I think it can be important to have a boundary Not allowing yourself to get into potentially compromising situations with a member of the opposite sex.
Some of this is because you and your partner are simply being confident. If I'm aware of it, I can avoid it. Let's say I have an attractive male colleague. It's innocent, but he invites me for a drink. This is a dubious situation that may cross a line. I could get myself in a drunk situation with an attractive man. My intention wouldn't (of course!) be to do anything, but wouldn't it be easier to just avoid the situation altogether? And if it made my husband uncomfortable, that would be a line I certainly wouldn't want to cross. These are the boundaries that you and your spouse absolutely need to discuss.
Maintain boundaries as a team
Of course, your boundaries will collide every now and then. But,Knowing you're on the same teamworking to hold up each other's boundaries is such a comfort and relief. It's a reminder that you are not alone in this, although we are allfuck relationshipsanytime!
When your boundaries collide or clash, it can be a signal to take awithdraw and reevaluate. Could you be more clear about what you need? Does a new border need to be established? Remember that boundaries, like relationships, can change, so don't hesitate to adjust as needed to what better reflects your life and partnership.
Read these next:
- 10 rules for a happy marriage
- Friendship in Marriage: Why It Matters
- 48 questions to ask yourself before getting married
- 10 marriage goals for a stronger, closer relationship