Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationship With Your Spouse
Marriages are a joining of hearts, minds and souls. But even in the best of marriages, conflicts can arise. Couples who learn how to set proper boundaries in every area of their relationship are more likely to handle these conflicts in a collaborative and healthy way. In order to keep the peace in your relationship, keep these basic guidelines in mind when setting boundaries:
Sexual Boundaries: Men and women have an incredible talent for assuming that they know what their partner wants or doesn’t want. Sexual desires can range from the mundane to the mysterious. But unless you clearly tell your spouse what you are willing to do, and not willing to do, they will never know. Talk with your spouse about your sexual appetite, spontaneity, fantasies or desires. That way you can both enjoy each other to the fullest without crossing any lines that make you uncomfortable.
Financial Boundaries: Money can be the source of many marital fights. Get clear early on in your relationship on what your financial goals are. Sit down and devise a budget and work together to be sure that you are both adhering to it. If you keep your finances separate, make sure you are both aware of what the other expects financially. Set specific guidelines for who will pay for what, including entertainment and vacations. If there are areas of your financial life that you prefer to keep private, make sure that your spouse understands why and that you are both comfortable with that decision.
Parenting Boundaries: Most parents learn as they go. But many people enter marriages today with children from previous relationships. Work with your spouse to identify exactly what role you will play as a parent to those children. Some people decide to parent equally, sharing fully in the day-to-day responsibilities as well financial, educational and disciplinary decisions. Other couples find it easier to have one parent be the disciplinarian and the other the enforcer. But unless you identify what your responsibilities are, your actions toward a step-child may offend or hurt your spouse, and vice-versa. It is imperative that you and your spouse decide how you will parent your children or step-children. And once you have made that decision, share it with your children so that they understand that you are united in your parenting decisions.
Friendship and Family Boundaries: If you’ve ever been married, than I am sure your spouse had at least one friend or one family member who you did not like. This can cause friction in a relationship and has to be addressed. Talk with your spouse about your feelings toward that person. It is not necessary that your spouse lose contact with them. But once your spouse knows how you feel, they can make the decision on when, where and how often to interact with that friend or family member.
Emotional Boundaries: If there are things that you are not able to share with your spouse, let them know that rather than letting them assume that you are deliberately hiding something from them. Childhood wounds, emotional traumas and previous relationships can leave scars that may be too painful to talk about. Tell your spouse that you are not keeping these things from them because you don’t love them. Work with a therapist or counselor to address these issues so that you can find healing and become the whole person both you and your partner want you to be.