Setting Boundaries in Marriage – Why & How

Setting Boundaries in Marriage - Why & How

Being married to the one you love is one of the most blessed feelings in the world. And when you love each other so deeply, there may seem to be no boundaries. However, when love metamorphoses into marriage, there may arise a need to draw some boundaries for the relationship to flourish and prosper better. When boundaries are set, both the partners know when they are expected to stop being intrusive in each other’s lives. These boundaries keep the marriage healthy and lay the foundation for a long-lasting relationship. Well, setting boundaries is not that easy as it may seem, so let us discuss the subtleties and get a better insight into the topic and its various other aspects, in the following post!

What is Meant by a Boundary and How It Makes a Marriage Easier

The first and foremost thing is to understand what exactly is meant by setting boundaries in a marriage! Well, when you and your partner agree on setting some limits or lines to prevent each other from being manipulated or exploited by each other, to protect your marriage. These boundaries assist responsibility and ownership between you and your partner. It is a way of honouring each other’s needs and wants as separate individuals. In the dearth of such healthy lines, the desires or feelings of a partner may get suppressed. The true essence of setting boundaries is to understand what you desire and need and what your partner desires and needs from you!

For a successful marriage, both the partners must maintain certain boundaries. Here is how marriage is made easier by setting some boundaries:

  • It helps you in clearing any misunderstandings or conflicts that may arise between the two of you by preventing either of you from getting hurt.
  • It helps you to maintain a healthy balance between each other’s priorities.
  • You give each other power to control certain actions, which can eventually change situations or circumstances for good.
  • You both take the onus of your actions without putting any kind of blame on your spouse.

Differences and challenges are common in any marital relationship. The conflicts may be different but the feelings of pain, confusion, and ambiguity may be more or less the same. However, setting boundaries to protect marriage is something that may help!

Types of Marital Boundaries

couple sitting on a sofa

There can be different types of boundaries in a marriage. The ones that are set without any communication, the ones that need to be told, some boundaries can be felt, some can be seen and various other such types of boundaries. Well, don’t get boggled as we shall be discussing some of these boundaries in detail in this section:

Physical Limits

Here are some physical boundaries that need to set:

1. No place for envy 

If your spouse is better looking, more successful, more confident than you or better than you in other aspects, it does not mean that you need to be envious of your partner. Envy and jealousy can destroy the foundations of even the strongest of relationships. This feeling can make one partner feel insecure and prove disastrous for the marriage.

2. Physical abuse 

There is no place of any kind of physical abuse in a relationship. Crossing any kind of boundaries in this regard is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.

3. Better communication

Communication should not only be restricted to discussing how you spent your entire day but you must talk your heart out to each other, which includes talking about your dreams, desires, emotions, aspirations, fears and other such feelings. Do not leave your conversations to assumptions but, instead, take a step further and talk it out!

4. No yelling 

Not only does yelling at someone sound barbaric, but it can emotionally scar the other person. If you are married that does not mean that you have to agree with your spouse on everything. You can always agree to disagree and there is no need to be rude or yell at your spouse for that.

5. Be more open 

You should talk to your partner about everyone that matters in your life. Your family and friends are an important part of that. Do not keep secrets or hide anything from your partner about your family, friends, trips, money, etc.

6. Better evaluation of the situation 

Sometimes certain boundaries, such as where the money is concerned, may get a tad bit awkward to discuss. However, this does not mean that you should not discuss them. If you have some investments in mind and you wish to ask your partner to help you with some bill payment, it is acceptable. Talk to each other about such issues.

7. Make some changes in yourself 

People are not perfect and the same holds for you and your spouse too. Do not expect your spouse to change the way you want. Sometimes changing yourself can make the situation ideal. Change is a two-way street if you wish to change something in your partner, be ready to make some changes in yourself too.

8. Don’t talk ill of your spouse 

Whenever you have issues or problems with your spouse, you should discuss it with your spouse only. Never talk ill of your spouse to your friends or family members. If someone tries to do so, discourage it!

9. Learn to say ‘No’ sometimes 

You do not have to agree to everything that your spouse says or does. If you feel what your spouse wants you to do can have repercussions, is illegal or hurtful to people, deny it! It may hurt your spouse for some time but in the long run, it can help in protecting your relationship.

10. Learn to forgive 

Everyone makes mistakes and so will spouse. If you feel the mistake is worth forgiving, you must become the bigger person and forgive your spouse to strengthen your the bond of marriage.

Emotional Limits

Here are some emotional limits that you should not cross:

1. Be honest 

You need to be honest with your spouse as it helps in building respect and trust in a relationship. Any kind of dishonesty can tarnish a beautiful relationship by giving birth to insecurity, disrespect, mistrust, jealousy and other such emotions.

2. Be faithful 

You must stay faithful to your spouse. It is very easy to stray out in marriage but to gain back trust is not easy. The boundaries in marriage after infidelity may get tricky to establish, therefore, you must save your relationship from any external factors and reassure your partner of your love.

3. Share love 

Love is the most important aspect of any marriage. No matter if you are going through a high phase in your relationship or you have hit rock bottom, love and affection shouldn’t take the backseat. However, being in love with your spouse does not mean accepting any kind of bad behaviour or abuse of any kind.

4. Exercise self-control 

Controlling your reactions or emotions towards different situations in marriage is a recipe for a happy marriage. For instance, if you feel your spouse is acting mean or being rude with you, you cannot behave in the same manner or walk away. Be mindful and act sanely to avoid any confusion and further worsening the situation.

How You Can Build Healthy Boundaries with Your Spouse?

happy couple

A boundary is a boundary, no matter how small or big it is! No one usually likes their boundaries to be violated or crossed over. So, what is the correct way of going about it! If you think that letting go of your boundaries once in a while to maintain peace and calm will work!  Well, we hate to burst the bubble, but that will never work, rather it may prove to be futile for the relationship in the long run. Here are some tips on how you can help build healthy boundaries:

1. Never act on behalf of your partner

You may know your partner very well but that certainly does not mean that you would act or assume things on his behave. Such assumptions often lead to confusion and misunderstandings in relationships. Every person behaves and acts differently under different circumstances and assuming their reactions or actions without asking them is not a done thing.

2. Communicate your feelings and thoughts

Marriage is about sharing your life, which means communicating your thoughts and emotions too. Always be respectful and considerate when communicating with your partner. Just because both of you have busy lives and are too tired by the end, does not mean that you shy away from spending quality time with each other.

3. Learn to take the onus of your actions

A healthy marriage needs both the partners to be responsible for their respective actions. If someone makes a mistake, accept it! Shunning one’s mistakes or blaming it on the other persion is unacceptable.

4. Practice what you preach

When boundaries are decided or set, it applies to both the partners equally. This means there are no exceptions for either of them. What is unacceptable in one’s case holds in another’s case too.

5. Take the hint and move on

You respect your partner’s boundaries and limits but despite your constant efforts your partner refuses to respect them. Well, every individual has the right to live their life with dignity and respect. Do not accept any disrespect and know when it is time to move on.

What You Should Do if Your Spouse Resists Such Boundaries?

Okay, so you are all set to make set introduce some healthy boundaries to avoid overstepping boundaries in marriage but your spouse seems to be indifferent towards it or seems not too keen. So, what should you do, let go or find ways to make your spouse understand the importance of boundaries and consequences in marriage. Well, we have some ways that may help you in dealing with a resisting spouse:

1. Give time

Suddenly opening up to the idea of having boundaries in your marriage and expecting your spouse to abide by them or accept them can be too much to ask! If you feel something can help strengthen your marriage and you communicated the same to your spouse, let your spouse absorb the idea by giving your partner some time.

2. Accept disapproval

If your partner is not fine with something or a certain idea and does not want to go with it, respect it and let it go. Your spouse or, for that matter every individual, has the freedom to say no to things they don’t want to do.

3. Respect personal space

No matter how much you love each other, personal space is something that most of us cannot do without. Learn to respect each other’s personal space.

4. Consult

If you want certain limits or lines to be drawn in your relationship, you should discuss and talk to your partner about it. Never assume on your spouse’s behalf, always consult before making any boundaries.

5. Admit mistakes

We falter and make mistakes and the same applies to the marriage too. Never shy away from apologizing to your spouse if you feel you may have hurt, disrespected or annoyed your partner in any way.

Examples of Situations where Boundaries Can Be Set

situations requiring boundaries

We will share some examples of situations that you may encounter in your life and how boundaries can help you sail through such circumstances by keeping your marriage strong:

1. The emotional disconnect

Getting connected with your spouse on an emotional level is an important aspect of a marriage. Sometimes either of the spouses may become indifferent towards the other, which may lead to damaging the foundations of the relationship. This situation can be avoided if both partners understand each other’s feelings and emotions.

For instance, the husband gets annoyed or upset with his wife over something and does not communicate the same to his wife. The wife is unaware of what the husband is feeling, which may further hurt the husband’s feelings. This vicious circle of getting upset with each other can come to end through communicating one’s true feelings.

2. The cause and effect

It may sound childish but this works fine. Marriage is a two-way street, you get what you give. If you respect your spouse’s needs and demands, your spouse will make sure yours are met too. For instance, your spouse is a spendthrift and keeps spending her monthly salary on shopping for jewellery, dress, makeup, etc, in that case, you can politely ask her to start clearing her bills or help in paying household bills.

3. The honesty policy

Being honest and upfront with your spouse about various aspects of your life is something that strengthens the bond of marriage. For example, if you go on an all-girls’ night out with your friends and some random guy hits on.  You indulge in some harmless flirting but tell him that you are married, well; this is something that should not be hidden from your husband. Treat your spouse like a friend and share your life.

4. The expression and language

Words can hurt more than anything else, thus, choose them wisely. You may be made with your spouse for a short while but hurtful words may haunt your spouse for a long time. Be careful in choosing your words when communicating anything during a heated argument. Never shout nag or be rude to each other. For example, if your husband starts shouting, tell him that you are unwilling to discuss anything further until he lets go of these tantrums.

Common Misconception Regarding Marital Boundaries

Sometimes boundaries are misinterpreted or misunderstood that may lead to confusion in a marriage. Here are some of the common misconceptions that may crop up regarding boundary issues in marriage:

  • It is misconceived that people who set boundaries in a marriage are often too self-centred and may be termed as rigid and selfish.
  • It is misunderstood that boundaries are made to control one’s spouse or to assist the partner to know what is or what isn’t expected of them in a relationship.
  • It is misinterpreted that boundaries are set to get back or punish the spouse. This usually happens in cases where self-care or protection comes into the picture.
  • It is misjudged that boundaries are made by partners in a marriage who wish to restrict or control their partner’s actions or freedom.

Establishing and setting boundaries in marriage is an art that needs to be mastered. Always keep in mind that healthy boundaries may be hard to set but they come handy in strengthening your relationship with your spouse. The best way to set them is by following your instinct. Be more open and accepting when you practice these boundaries with your partner and see how your relationship prospers and flourishes with each passing year!

Also Read:

Ways to Become Your Spouse’s Best Friend
What are the Healthy Habits of Happy Couples
Go Beyond the Communication to Solve Marriage Problems