Marriage can be hard but boundaries can make it easier
Have your friends been telling you that establishing boundaries before marriage is important to the success of the relationship, along with love and respect?
Do you hope to be happily married but have no idea what boundaries are and how and why to set them up with your marriage partner?
To understand healthy marriage boundaries, look at the four walls of your house. They form the structure that holds your life together. They hold your food, bed and possessions, and it’s where you live your life.
Marriage boundaries are the same as the four walls of your house. They are the things that support your marriage as it matures. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures and boundaries that support it.
Healthy boundaries in healthy relationships come in a great variety.
Here are five types of boundary that are essential:
1. Always be true to yourself
Many people, after marrying and beginning this new life with their partner, become less themselves. Many men and women adopt their spouse’s friendships, hobbies, and ways of doing things.
It is very important that all people continue being themselves when in a relationship. Why? Because every healthy relationship is based on truth and if you are not being your true self your marriage will never be really healthy.
It is also important that you continue to respect yourself, and you will respect yourself by being yourself. By continuing to have your own friends, your own hobbies, a career that you love, and a healthy lifestyle that serves you, you will wake up every day feeling good about yourself.
And, when you feel good about yourself, your partner will love you even more because he knows you are being your true self. You are someone who is ambitious and smart and willing to take risks to get what she wants.
So, be yourself in your relationship. A healthy married life requires it.
2. Practice compromise
I have a client whose new husband moved into a house that she already owned. Straightaway they had issues because it was her house and she wanted to do things her way and that just wasn’t okay with him.
It is important that everyone be flexible in a relationship. Just like you would at work or with your family, it is important to work with your partner so that you can both live a life that is authentic to you.
The phrase ‘My way or the highway’ has no place in a healthy marriage.
The phrase ‘My way or the highway’ has no place in any healthy marriage
3. Maintain mutual respect
One of the biggest killers of romantic love in a marriage is contempt and a lack of respect. The saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is an accurate one and it happens in many marriages over the years.
It is important in every relationship that you each respect each other. Respect each other within the confines of your relationship by speaking to each other honestly, sharing your feelings and needs in an open way, and not attacking each other personally or criticising each other’s ideas, behaviours and actions.
Furthermore, it’s important to not criticise your partner out in the world. The general rule is that you do not tell anyone something about your partner that you haven’t already shared with him/her.
So, make sure you treat each other with respect, both inside and outside the relationship.
4. Don’t give up your power
In many marriages, at some point, one person becomes the one calling the shots. Though this seems to work on one level, ultimately the relationship will become uneven, and when power dynamics are unequal, a marriage will change.
Make an effort to keep the decision-making even and fair in your marriage. If you are good at organising your social life then do that, but give him the opportunity to choose the events. If he is good at managing the finances let him do that, but continue to have input into where the money goes and why.
Letting your marriage playing field become uneven allows it to slip into a sort of parent-child dynamic, where one person is in charge and the other does as they are told.
Does that sound like a healthy relationship to you?
5. Spend time apart
When falling in love, couples want to spend every available minute together. The feelings that accompany falling in love are addictive and hard to walk away from, even for a short while.
It is important, however, that you spend time apart from the one you love.
You know the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? It’s true! So, spend some time apart. Miss each other. Value each other. Keep that spark alive.
Now that you know what boundaries look like, we can address three reasons why setting boundaries before marriage is important for its health:
1. It helps you know if you are compatible
Establishing boundaries before you are married is important because, by doing so, you will learn whether or not you are compatible.
In spite of what many women believe, things and partners won’t change when you get married – habits and behaviours that exist pre-marriage will continue.
If you try to establish boundaries after marriage and you don’t agree on the how or why of them, then you will spend your life with someone who might be difficult. Love is important in marriage but it only goes so far.
So, talk to your partner and spend some time defining your boundaries. Doing so will allow you both to confirm that your marriage is the right choice.
Learning how to set boundaries before marriage is a key part in building a strong bond between you
2. You’ve been practicing
If you work on establishing boundaries before marriage, when you actually marry you will have practiced those boundaries, learning what works and what doesn’t.
You will have established behaviours and practices that work for you both and keep you happier together.
So, when the wedding is over and the birdseed has been thrown, you can feel confident to ride off into the sunset together, knowing what is important to both of you and that you both can do the work!
3. You are a team
After marriage comes extended family and babies. Having established boundaries will help you stay strong as a couple while facing these challenges.
Extended families can be wonderful or not so much. Traditions that have been established in one family sometimes don’t work in another. Your mother-in-law means well but can be interfering. Babies completely rock your world.
If you have a truly strong bond based on the boundaries you have established, you have a much better chance of riding out those challenges together.
Learning how to set boundaries before marriage is a key part in building a strong bond between you.
We all think that we have found our soulmate and best friend, and that nothing can possibly come between us, but the reality is that marriage is long and hard and it takes work.
If you know what to expect from each other before you marry then you will have a better chance of being truly happy.
Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world. Email her and get started.