Have you been told that relationship boundaries are important? Do you wonder exactly what ARE relationship boundaries?
Are you eager to implement some but do you have no idea where to start?
Let me help!
To understand healthy relationship 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 relationship boundaries are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your relationship as it grows. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures, boundaries, that support it.
Healthy relationship boundaries come in many shapes, sizes and colors and they are essential and appropriate for every relationship, whether it be new and exciting or more settled and safe.
It’s important for each couple to decide what works for them but there are a few boundaries that are essential for every healthy relationship.
#1 – Don’t let one person be in charge.
In many relationships 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 things are uneven a relationship changes.
So, make an effort to keep the decision-making even in the relationship. 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 relationship 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.
#2 – Respect each other.
One of the biggest romance killers in a relationship is lack of respect and contempt.
The saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is an accurate one and something that happens in many committed relationships.
Examples of acting with contempt are rolling your eyes when your partner says something, criticizing their clothing, belittling their expressions. Does any of that sound familiar to you? Are you guilty of doing this at times? DON’T. Contempt will kill a relationship faster than almost anything else.
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 treat each other with respect, both inside and outside the relationship.
#3 – Don’t lose yourselves.
So many women, when they are in a relationship, become less of themselves.
Many women take on their partner’s friendships, their hobbies and their ways of doing things.
It is VERY important that all women 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 relationship 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 relationship requires it.
#4 – 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.
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. Miss each other. Value each other. Keep that spark alive.
#5 – Be flexible.
I have a client who recently bought a house for herself and her boyfriend moved in with her. 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.
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.
You know the phrase “My way or the highway?” That phrase has no place in any healthy relationship.
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.
Examining what are healthy relationship boundaries is an excellent way to ensure that you have a good strong relationship that will last forever.
Relationships are built from 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.
Talk to 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 relationship to be a healthy one.
You can do it!
Are you struggling with establishing boundaries in your relationship?
I know it can be really, really hard. Let me help!
Email me at email@example.com and let’s get started!
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.