As we’ve said previously, boundaries help to protect relationships. Setting healthy boundaries keeps balance in the relationship and provides protection for the individuals through safety in the relationship (Echo-Hawk, 2006).
According to Eldemire, “Boundaries are unique for every individual. They cover a range of topics and can be small or big. In the simplest terms, a boundary in a marriage is the limit of what a person is willing to accept from their partner. Boundaries serve as an outward expression of a person’s core values and beliefs and reflect what they need to feel safe, respected, and loved” (2020).
Echo-Hawk (2006) gives 10 Practical rules of boundaries:
- Behavioral ownership. Take responsibility for behaviors and their consequences. [This] builds an internal sense of control (as opposed to feeling out-of-control).
- Ownership of feelings. “I’m not in charge of or responsible for your feelings.” I am responsible for my feelings.
- Personal power. I only have power over myself. I can’t change someone else.
- Self-respect teaches me to respect others’ boundaries.
- Healthy motives increase the freedom to say “no” (or “yes”) without guilt.
- Not all pain is bad pain. (Sometimes healthy boundaries come with some pain.)
- Be consistent. Mean business.
- Boundaries reduce anger. Lack of boundaries builds resentments.
- Assertive boundaries aren’t secret, they are expressed and practiced.
- Boundaries help us to show up and stay present and give voice to our needs and preferences.
When it comes to taking responsibility, it’s important to remember that everything we say or do has a natural consequence, either positive or negative. An example from Eldemire is “if you’re frequently critical of your spouse, they probably won’t want to be intimate with you. But if you speak kindly and refrain from yelling during an argument, they’re more likely to feel secure and desire physical intimacy and connection. This same concept applies to honoring your partner’s boundaries … what you say and do … affects your partner. … Take responsibility when you make a mistake, offer genuine apologies, and always circle back to clear, respectful communication” (2020).
Emotional, psychological, and physical boundaries help to preserve each individual in a marriage, and the marriage itself. It is important to honor our differences. Healthy boundaries allow for all three entities in a marriage to grow: you, me, and us.
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