Are you newly married and have you been told that poor boundaries in marriage can be a recipe for disaster?
Do you want to do whatever you can to keep your special bond intact but do you have no idea what marriage boundaries are or where to start?
Fortunately, I have helped many couples establish and stick to boundaries in their marriage so that things don’t go awry. Let me help you!
To understand healthy marriage boundaries look at the four walls of your house. Those walls are the structure that holds your life together. They hold your food and your bed and your possessions and it’s where you live your life.
Healthy marriage boundaries are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your marriage as it matures. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures, boundaries, that support it.
Conversely, poor marriage boundaries can make the wall of your house weak and susceptible to damage and destruction. That you don’t want.
Healthy marriage boundaries come in many shapes, sizes and colors. It’s important for each couple to decide what works for them to keep their marriage safe and strong.
Let’s talk about some boundaries and why your marriage could be damaged if they aren’t set up as soon as possible
#1 – Be true to yourself.
For many people, when they are married, they become less of themselves.
Many people, men and women take on their spouse’s friendships, their hobbies and their ways of doing things. And losing yourself in another person is a recipe for disaster.
It is VERY important that all people stay themselves when in a relationship.
Why? Because every healthy relationship is based on truth and if you are anything other than your true self your marriage will never be really healthy.
It is also important that you continue to respect yourself and you will respect yourself by being yourself. By continuing to have your friends, to do your own hobbies, to have a career that you love and a healthy lifestyle that serves you, you will wake up every day feeling good about yourself.
And when you feel good about yourself your partner will love you even more because he knows you are being your true self, someone who is ambitious and smart and willing to take risks to get what she wants.
So be yourself in your relationship. A healthy marriage requires it.
#2 – Let go of rigidity.
I have a client whose new husband moved into a house that she already owned. Right away they had issues because it was her house and she wanted to do things her way and that just wasn’t okay with him. So, what did they do? They set up boundaries around how things were done, agreeing that each person could have some autonomy around certain things and that each of them might have final say in others.
You know the phrase “My way or the highway?” That phrase has no place in any healthy marriage because there are two people in the relationship and compromise is essential to maintaining balance and satisfaction.
It is important that everyone be flexible in a relationship. Just like you would at work or with your family, it is important to work with your partner so that you can both live a life that is authentic to you.
So, embrace flexibility. Choose the things that are important to you and stay true to them but be willing to see what might be important to your man and work with him so that you both can live a life that makes you happy. Together and apart.
#3 – Maintain mutual respect.
One of the biggest romance killers in a marriage is lack of respect and contempt. It is important that, from the beginning, you agree to always treat each other well.
The saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is an accurate one and something that happens in many marriages over the years.
It is important in every relationship that you each respect each other. Respect each other within the confines of your relationship by speaking to each other honestly, sharing your feelings and needs in an open way. By not attacking each other personally and criticizing each other’s behaviors and actions.
Furthermore, it’s important to not criticize your partner out in the world. The general rule of thumb is that you not tell something about your partner to anyone that you haven’t already shared with your partner.
When I was married, I talked to my friends WAY more about the problems in my marriage than I did to my husband. This didn’t do our relationship any good because we weren’t communicating and giving our relationship a chance to improve. And when we were together I treated my husband with contempt because I no longer respected him.
I am no longer married.
So, make sure you agree early on to treat each other with respect, both inside and outside the relationship.
#4 – Keep the power dynamic even.
In many marriages it happens that at some point one person becomes the one calling the shots. And while this seems to work on one level, ultimately the relationship will become uneven. And when power dynamics are unequal, a marriage can be damaged.
Make an effort to keep the decision making even in your marriage. If you are good at organizing your social life then do that but give him opportunity to choose events. If he is good at managing the finances let him do that but continue to have input into where the money goes and why.
Letting your marriage’s playing field become uneven allows it to slip into a sort of parent/child dynamic, where one person is in charge and the other does as they are told. Does that sound like a healthy relationship to you?
Not so much.
#5 – Spend time apart.
When they are falling in love, couples want to spend every available minute together. The feelings that accompany falling in love are addictive and hard to walk away from even for a short while.
It is important, however, that you spend time apart from the one you love because too much togetherness can lead to neglect- to taking each other for granted, for losing oneself and for alienating close friends and family. None of those things can lead to a happy marriage.
You know the old saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder?” It’s true!
Think about how you feel when you go on a diet. How you can’t eat ice cream for a month while you lose those 5 pounds and, man, do you miss your ice cream. It’s the same thing in a relationship. Stepping away from your partner, even for a bit, makes you both notice the void that is created in his or her absence.
And then the heart grows fonder.
So, spend some time apart. Be yourself. Miss each other. Value each other. Keep that spark alive.
Poor boundaries in marriage can be a recipe for disaster.
Marriages are built by two people who have two separate lives and two separate ways of living. It is important that the couple build a new life together. A new life with four walls that will keep it safe and strong.
So, don’t let one of you be in charge, respect each other, like yourself, spend time apart and be flexible.
At the beginning of your marriage, make it a priority with your partner and build your house from a place of love and beauty and self-confidence, one that will be strong enough to stand the test of time and allow your marriage to be a healthy one.
You can do it!
If you’ve made it this far you must be very worried that poor boundaries in marriage could be a disaster.
Let me help get you there, NOW, before things start to go wrong.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.