Many married couples are often surprised when they hear that a marriage needs boundaries. It is important to understand and know how to apply it to your marriage. Most marriages fail because of poor boundaries than any other reason. Let’s first clarify and understand what a boundary is.
I love the definition of a boundary in the best-selling book, “Boundaries” by Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud, it is stated that “Boundaries are personal property lines that define who you are and who you are not, and influence all areas of your life”. This includes the following aspects of your life: physical boundaries, mental boundaries, emotional boundaries and spiritual boundaries.
Boundaries are not only for an individual but they are as well for a couple in the context of a marriage. What do I mean by that? You may be hearing this for the first time and it may be a foreign concept to you.
When you get married and become a couple as a unit, it is essential that you practice boundaries and that you know what boundaries look like as you relate to each other. Boundaries define your identity as a person and thus boundaries also defines your marriage. Boundary expresses what is OK and what is not OK to do with you whether it's in your marriage or your other relationships. It is an important part of your identity and your function in life and relationships. It tells others what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in your marriage. Boundaries create a sense of order and health in your life and your relationships as you interact with others. Boundaries clarify and communicate your value system, but they also show others who you are and what they can do with you or not. This is why when two people are dating one of the most important questions to discuss is your value system as you get to know someone new. When two two people marry they create a new system that includes both of them; sharing of their bodies, souls, thoughts, feelings, possessions, time and more. This needs to be sorted out who they are and how they live their lives as individual adults and a married couple. This would determine the type of dance they will have as they connect and communicate with each others and even in their parenting. Marriage is about togetherness (being together as two separate souls) and at the same time boundaries are needed for they foster separateness. One of the goals of the marriage is knowing how to share yourself and how to stay true to yourself, your needs and your growth, and it’s a skill to know how to share that with your partner.
Sometimes you blame your spouse for your own lack of limits. You do not know how to assertively speak with kindness, vulnerability and grace about what you can do or can not do, and share and collaborate your interests, skills and desires. Only you know what you can and want to do, and only you can be responsible for drawing that line in a caring and a respectful way.
Conflicts, miscommunication and challenges occur when your own family history or early life experiences interferes and comes to play when you can not set limits with your spouse and neither of you do not know how to have an honest conversation about this. Many aspects of your marriage requires boundaries such as, your physical boundary your physical space (this is where infidelity occurs) your words, your emotions, your time. If you didn't learn growing up how talk this way and practice this in relationships, it's not your fault, and it is not too late. You can choose to learn and grow in your marriage.
Remember boundaries need to be communicated first verbally and then with actions (behaviorally) consistently. In talking to each other, you must be clear about your boundary and in unapologetical way. Not demanding but honesty and clear. Then these boundaries need to be respected and revealed at different times in marriage. This requires more than one honest and clear conversation but ongoing check-ins.
Do you know how to do this in your marriage? If you know you need coaching or help, please feel free to reach out to myself or a good seasoned therapist who can facilitate this dialogue with you.