Boundaries. That is one word that causes a lot of confusion in relationships. Too many people have been raised on the belief that love is something all-encompassing and selfless. You should be willing to give to your partner, and they should do the same for you. Right? Well, not really. Boundaries are necessary for healthy relationships. You need boundaries to set a foundation to build a strong relationship and marriage. So what are good boundaries to set in a relationship? Today you are going to find out.
What Are Boundaries In A Relationship?
First off, let us make one thing very clear about boundaries. A boundary is a limit that helps you protect your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual space. You can think of boundaries as the fence that separates you from other people. A healthy boundary is flexible and gives you space to foster your personal well-being. Should you be unable to form boundaries or have unhealthy ones, it could spell trouble for your well-being, as well as the stability of your relationship.
Why You Need Boundaries In A Relationship
Boundaries do a couple of things.
They bolster your sense of self. With good boundaries, you can expect the following:
- People do not take advantage of you
- You do not have to fix other people
- You do not get drawn into arguments or other people’s drama
- The little things others do to trouble themselves do not hold sway over your own life
But what would happen if the exact opposite occurred? You may have already been in a relationship that lacked boundaries. In the beginning, it may have seemed perfect, but then your communication broke down. You resented one another for a week or so. Then the moments of bliss returned, followed by an explosive breakup before getting miraculously back together. You or the other individual may have been too needy or codependent. Perhaps you expected far too much of them, or maybe you believed that if you fixed all their problems, they would love you.
Since this creates a very vicious cycle, healthy boundaries are important.
What Are Good Boundaries To Set In A Relationship?
In order to set good boundaries in a relationship, you must first understand yourself. If you are struggling with coming up with boundaries, consider attending therapy alone or with your partner. Couples Academy can guide you through the process of understanding what is important to you, so you can start discussing your needs in your relationship and communicating more effectively.
In the meantime, here are five types of boundaries to set in a relationship:
1. Physical Boundaries
A physical boundary are things dealing with your personal space and your body. What you do with your body, on your own time, is up to you. You have your own goals to set, your own family and friends to keep. Knowing how you like to spend your time is important, not just for yourself, but also for your partner. For example, if you are someone who needs time alone to decompress while your partner is more extroverted, you could make the mistake of inviting friends over when all you want to do is curl up with a good book.
In this case, you would set a boundary by saying, “Yes, you can invite people over, but I need time to myself before I come down. You will need to entertain them by yourself until I’m ready.”
Be sure to define these kinds of boundaries early on. Otherwise, you and your significant other may end up feeling disrespected by one another.
2. Sexual Boundaries
As a human, you have your own unique form of sexual expression. You need to let your sexual preferences be known. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your partner knows where you draw a line in terms of experimentation. They may like things that you would absolutely never do. Keep in mind that saying no is a boundary. Your partner should honor that no, too.
If you and your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend are unable to communicate your sexual boundaries, then both of you are going to be faking intimacy, and that will lead to resentment and other relationship woes.
3. Emotional Boundaries
Establishing emotional boundaries can be difficult for some people, especially if you grew up in a household that had no respect for your emotions. Children whose emotions were invalidated, for example, may tend to keep their feelings to themselves. In turn, this leaves a distance between you and your partner.
So what is a healthy emotional boundary? Take, for instance, a moment when you are upset. Your partner may try to offer advice or fix the situation in some way. Clue into how this makes you feel and tell them the best way to respond. Here is an example: “When I am upset, I sometimes just need to vent and would appreciate it if you didn’t give me advice. If I want your advice, I will ask for it.”
4. Financial Boundaries
Relationships are, simply put, a transaction. Whether you like it or not, money is also a part of this transaction. In a healthy relationship, there is no need to hide financial concerns. You should be able to openly discuss how you wish to spend your money, whether you want to make a joint account or keep your funds separate, how much goes into the savings fund, and so on. Additionally, financial boundaries tie into your personal ones. You should not have to ask for permission to spend money on yourself or to enjoy your hobbies.
Set firm boundaries when it comes to shared expenses, including the ones where you are both contributing towards the same goal, such as a college fund for a child or a vacation. If your partner is not meeting a certain goal or fails to contribute when they said they would do not be afraid to hold them accountable.
5. Mental Boundaries
Also known as intellectual boundaries, these include your personal beliefs and ideas. You and your partner should be able to maintain your differences and not lose yourself to the “we.” Also, if you feel that you cannot discuss something with your partner for fear of contention or debate, it may be time to set boundaries.
For instance, if your political views differ, they should not disparage you because of that. Say, “Please do not disrespect my views. We can disagree on certain matters of opinion. If you continue telling me that I am wrong without listening to what I have to say, this discussion is over.”
Learn To Set Healthy Boundaries With Couples Academy
Good boundaries are the cornerstone of strong and lasting relationships. Learning how to set those boundaries, however, can be hard. If you and your partner are struggling with communication, it may be time to visit a couples therapist. At Couples Academy, our expert team of marriage counselors can teach you new communication skills and help you strengthen your relationship or marriage from the foundation up. Give us a call today or fill out the contact form to learn more about our services.