How do boundaries work in a marriage? What areas of a marriage benefit from boundaries? What are the advantages of having clear boundaries?
According to Eldemire, “All healthy relationships have healthy boundaries. Boundaries provide the freedom to express your needs and values while also honoring the needs and values of your partner…Setting healthy boundaries can transform your relationship and elevate your own self-respect” (2020).
Additionally, “Boundaries serve the purpose of protecting love and caring in the relationship, freeing the person to express love, to serve someone, to give to someone without being taken advantage of or abused. Boundaries structure the relationship, setting up healthy and appropriate ‘rules’ (the guidelines and limits that keep balance in the relationship). Boundaries provide protection for the individual through safety in the relationship” (Echo-Hawk, 2006, para 5).
“Boundaries … help us feel safe from being controlled. Boundaries help us to stay structured (hold ourselves together and hang onto our grounding) during conflicts in relationships. Healthy resilient boundaries make for healthy resilient relationships” (Echo-Hawk, 2006, Summary).
According to Cook, healthy boundaries mean connection and intimacy, yet with space for individuality (2020).
What areas of a marriage especially need boundaries? Eldemire (2020) gives detailed examples such as:
- In-laws and family (e.g., how often we visit the in-laws, how much personal details they should know about the marriage).
- Personal privacy (e.g., agreeing not to go through each other’s phones, not being forced to share details about the past).
- Communication (e.g., zero-tolerance for shouting or name-calling).
- Autonomy (e.g., the freedom to make your own decisions, work toward goals, or maintain friendships outside the marriage).
- Physical space (e.g., zero tolerance for violence, agreements about sex including when, where, and how).
- Money (e.g., not hiding money or debt from each other).
- Home life (e.g., expectations on shared parenting, household chores, quality time spent together).
- Relationship rules (e.g., the expectation of loyalty and fidelity, trust and respect).
Recognizing the need for healthy boundaries and understanding their value is a good start. In the next post, we’ll delve into how to actually communicate and put them into place.
Cook, A. (2020, April 9). Healthy Boundaries in Marriage and How to Tell the Difference. Alison Cook, Ph.D. https://www.alisoncookphd.com/healthy-boundaries-in-marriage/
Echo-Hawk, L. (2006, June 6). Healthy Boundaries. EchoHawk Counseling – Materials & Resources. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://ehcounseling.com/materials/boundaries_2006_06_06.pdf
Eldemire, A. (2020, November 3). How to Set (and Respect) Boundaries With Your Spouse. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/couples-thrive/202011/how-set-and-respect-boundaries-your-spouse