How To Set Healthy Boundaries In Your Relationship
Boundaries are important. They set guidelines and limits. All relationships have boundaries, including professional relationships, friendships, familial relationships, romantic relationships, and even your relationship with yourself. Here’s how to set healthy boundaries in your romantic relationship.
Although you may not realize it, all the relationships in your life have some sort of boundaries. Some may not be clearly defined, but they’re still present – for example, your boss knowing not to call you after work hours, or a friend knowing not to call you on Tuesday evenings because that’s your date night with your spouse. Boundaries help with expectation management and protecting your peace.
Life without boundaries would be absolute chaos.
Sometimes people struggle with setting or respecting boundaries. Learning to set clearly communicated boundaries is a skill, and it’s important to know that you can introduce and/or renegotiate boundaries at any time you see fit. Let’s talk about some tips.
How do I know if we need to talk about boundaries?
Every couple should have discussions about boundaries. It’s important for healthy communication and to be on the same page. Islam already sets the boundaries and standards for some aspects of a marriage, such as financially. There are other areas of a romantic relationship where clearly defined boundaries may be needed, such as:
- Expectations for communication, such as while a spouse is at work
- Sexual relations – what’s okay in the bedroom? Is there anything you’re not okay with doing?
- How household labor will be divided
- How childcare responsibilities will be shared
- What kind of personal space each partner requires, both physically and mentally
If anything on this list is a source of conflict for you and your partner, that’s a tell-tale sign that you need to have an open and honest conversation with each other. Boundaries may change as circumstances shift, and that’s fine. You can introduce or renegotiate boundaries at any time.
Can some boundaries be unhealthy?
Believe it or not, not all boundaries are healthy. Sometimes people have very loose boundaries, or lack them altogether, and this can be damaging. Sometimes people mistake controlling behavior for boundaries. If your options are being limited, it’s highly likely that it may be an unhealthy boundary that could be controlling behavior instead. Here are some examples:
- Restricting you from seeing friends or family
- Policing your clothing choices
- Going through your phone or social media accounts
- Controlling your access to money
These may be signs of abusive behavior. Intimate partner violence is typically about power and control, so if you find that your options are being limited and you’re being controlled, you may want to speak to a professional to help you evaluate your safety in your relationship. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
Setting healthy boundaries
Once you understand how important boundaries are, you can be more intentional about setting them. Here are some suggestions to help you:
- Set clear boundaries from the get-go.
- Communicate changes as they arise.
- Remember that you can renegotiate boundaries at any time.
- Use I” statements.
If something is no longer working for you, say that. You’re entitled to be a “yes” for some things and a “no” for others – and you’re also entitled to change your mind. Just make sure you’re communicating. Communication is key!
What’s a time that you set a boundary you were proud of? Tell us about it in the comments. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @tuesdayinlove.