Boundaries are essential in a marriage, and need to be effectively communicated between spouses. Sometimes these boundaries are unspoken, yet understood. Other times, then need to be established through clear, loving communication. And yet there are other times and situations wherein they are crossed… repeatedly. So what do you do to communicate acceptable behaviour to your spouse without offence- especially when it involves a sensitive topic? Also, what are healthy boundaries to have in a marriage, and how do you enforce them?
While we think that healthy boundaries in marriage should be understood, sometimes they aren’t. Healthy boundaries in families don’t always exist- especially in the case of abuse, possessiveness, and jealousy. In these instances, boundaries become crossed all the time- which can be frustrating. A general rule for boundaries is that your spouse should not ask you to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with, invade personal space, or definitely anything immoral or illegal.
Boundaries That Are Often Crossed
Most of the time boundaries can be crossed in terms of personal space and sex. Sex is the most common one as couples seek to explore different ways of pleasuring the other. However, if it makes the other person uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be pursued. It’s just not worth putting your partner through it emotionally, and creating contention in your marriage. Boundaries, in this case, need to be communicated delicately, and lovingly as you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
Personal space can be another source of boundaries that are being crossed. In the case of control, domination, abuse, and jealousy, these boundaries are crossed continually. Many times, even though clear communication is given that the behaviour is unacceptable and often irrational, personal space is continually invaded. The most common justification is that spouses should be open with each other, and often the other spouse will tell you that you are free to go into their email, phone list, etc- yet knowing full well that you won’t. This invasion of boundaries leaves the spouse feeling violated, mistrusted, and often, suffocated.
So How Do You Establish Boundaries, And Is It Okay To Say No?
While pleasing your spouse is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your comfort level or self-esteem. Some people have difficulty with boundaries and respecting them. Others just simply don’t know they exist- innocently, enough.
Clarissa Lee-Kennerly will discuss what healthy boundaries are in marriage, and how to establish them within the home. She will also talk about how to set and enforce them- lovingly, yet firmly. Additionally, she will reveal what to do if your spouse just isn’t listening, and crossing the line.
It’s okay to say no when the request makes you uncomfortable or is unreasonable. We need to feel as if we can say no, and be respected. We also need to give ourselves permission to say no, and it still be okay. Most of the time, spouses in a healthy relationship will respect your boundaries because they love you. Other times, it may have to be worked out. In the case of abuse or control, and depending on the situation, the relationship may need to be re-evaluated or counselling introduced.
This article and more in our March issue coming our on February 26.