5 Critical Boundaries In Marriage To Avoid Breaking If You Want A Happy Partnership

In your home, you want to feel safe and secure.  You want to protect your property and self, so you keep your doors and windows locked. The same thing is true about your relationship; you can feel safe and secure and protect your relationship by maintaining healthy boundaries in marriage.

Why Boundaries Are Important In Marriage

Dr. Shirley Glass wrote about why affairs occur and how to recover from them. She emphasizes the role boundaries play in affairs, describing how partners who engage in relationships without boundaries are creating a very slippery slope. In order to head off situations like this, it’s a good idea for partners to sit together and have honest conversations about boundaries.  However, before engaging in these discussions, it’s important to acquire the right perspective about them: these dialogues are not brainstorming sessions focusing on ways to restrict or inhibit relationships but rather opportunities for partners to discuss thoughts and ideas about friendships and other relationships. 

What Boundaries Should You Have In Marriage

Boundaries in marriage might look different for each couple, but there are some universal issues that you will want to discuss with your partner in order to have a happy partnership; you will need to agree on these topics in order to create security and safety within your relationship. Take your time and create a win-win on each topic. 

Dr. Tatkin, founder of PACT, discusses the importance of a couple bubble. A couple bubble is an atmosphere which the couple creates where the couple can rest, relax and feel safe. In your couple bubble, you collaborate and make agreements in your relationship – how it runs, what is acceptable within it, what your values are, and what promises you agree to keep to each other. 

5 Critical Boundaries You Must Avoid Breaking:

  1. Communication: How you talk with and to each other will be key to your relationship’s success. In fact, Dr. John Gottman, international researcher and therapist, found four behaviors, known as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling,  – which were most destructive to relationships. You might notice that these all hinge on communication, so it’s extremely important that you and your partner agree that you will use effective communication skills to communicate your feelings and thoughts. If you are not familiar with these skills, you can begin learning by reading articles to discover more about this topic.
  2. Sexual Intimacy: When it comes to the topic of sexual intimacy, many couples become uncomfortable and may try to avoid discussing it. However, it’s very necessary for partners to talk about this topic and learn about each other’s comfort levels.  Some points that may feature include “No means no,” as well as the meaning of “I’m not sure,” which might mean “I need time to think about it,” “I’m scared to tell you how I feel because I don’t want you to feel rejected” or maybe something totally different. Other topics you may need to discuss are what you like, don’t like, want and need.  Although couples may think that the need to communicate about this topic is a sign of weakness in their relationship, the reality is that the strongest relationships are built on communication.  Without these open discussions, it’s easy for partners to misunderstand each other and guess wrong.
  3. Honesty: couples need to agree about the level of honesty in their relationship. You  might think that everyone is 100% honest, but you should ask to find out your partner’s opinion on the topic. 
  4. Team players: couples who feel they have each other’s backs and never throw each other under the bus are team players. Team players take care of each other and look out for each other. 
  5. Threatening the Relationship: If someone says in a fight, “I’m done” or “I want a divorce,” these words threaten the foundation of your relationship. When you are upset you will usually say things you don’t mean, but certain things should be permanently off the table unless you are discussing the topic calmly and are truly considering separating or divorcing. 

What Are Unhealthy Boundaries

Unhealthy boundaries usually revolve around one partner trying to control the other. For example, if your partner is attempting to change how you dress or act, then that is crossing boundaries, (unless you appreciate the suggestions and help).  Control can also include how much money you are allowed to have and/or spend and where you are allowed or not allowed to go.

Another sign of unhealthy boundaries is efforts to keep you away from your family and friends. Opposite-sex friends are an issue that you need to discuss with your partner, but same-sex friends and family should probably not be an issue unless they are engaging in dangerous and/or impulsive behaviors and actions.

All relationships are unique and have their own boundaries, so the best indicator of unhealthy boundaries may be your own instinct.  Most importantly, if you feel like something is an unhealthy boundary, then you should be able to talk about it with your spouse. If you feel scared, anxious or like you can’t say no, then that’s another sign that you do not have healthy boundaries in your relationship. 

Boundaries in marriage are essential for a happy, secure and successful partnership. By avoiding breaking the five critical boundaries listed above, you can feel more connected and close to your partner. Also, you should be aware of a relationship with unhealthy boundaries.

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in the states of Maryland, Virginia and Florida. She is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist and PACT Level 3 Candidate. To find out more about improving the boundaries in your relationship, contact Lisa for a free 30 minute private consultation .

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