One of the biggest misconceptions we might have about boundaries is that we don’t need them as much in marriage as before marriage. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Developing healthy marriage boundaries is a robust process that will help to sustain a marriage that nothing else will. Developing is a key word here because healthy marriage boundaries will not cultivate or sustain themselves. They must be set in place and practiced intentionally by the couple.
Healthy Marriage Boundaries: Listening and Paying Attention
This tip is first on our list for a good reason. Listening to your spouse and being aware of patterns, tones, and body language is a powerful area that can’t be ignored if you want a healthy relationship. Yes, you should account for stress, long, hard days, and all of the things that may cause very natural responses that are short and don’t come across as kind and loving all of the time. At the same time, you should be prepared to recognize unusual behavior and unspoken cries for help.
Yes, every person is different, and stress comes out in different ways for all of us. But that’s part of the beauty of getting to know our spouse, learning what is helpful and supportive to them based on what we know and learn about them.
Communicate Boundaries from the Beginning
It’s difficult to stress just how much easier it is to set, understand, and agree to boundaries at the beginning of a relationship than try to implement them after getting settled into your life down the road. Of course, it is possible to create boundaries in our relationships, but we can’t always assume that we have been on the same page all along. When we introduce something new to the relationship, again along the way, we must be prepared for a new response and answer from our spouse that we may not have been expecting.
For these reasons, implement those healthy marriage boundaries early. Discuss them during your marriage counseling, which is a must. Talk about them as much as you can as often as you can so that there are as few surprises as possible. You even want to be completely comfortable with what you may disagree with so that you understand where one another is coming from.
Healthy Marriage Boundaries Guidelines
The content and substance of healthy marriage boundaries are in what we may call guidelines. These are the straightforward communication tools and resources we use to understand one another. Our guidelines are reference points to help us know how to approach our spouse when approaching an unhealthy area and, of course, when we’ve gone too far. But good guidelines help us to keep far from that stage. Guidelines are specific and clear. They are objective, written, and kept in a place where you both have access. It’s also a good idea to keep them in a place where they’re accessible so that they don’t collect dust.
Establish Accountability from Others
It may sound like an overstatement that each of these tips is essential in one way or another. But getting input and feedback from outside your marriage is a must. Without this, in one form or another, it won’t be easy to establish healthy marriage boundaries. Find a couple you respect or a counselor trained to offer gentle accountability, someone with whom you will be comfortable discussing essential topics. You will want to be able to talk with this person together and individually. The important thing is that you can listen to the person constructively and helpfully for your journey in moving forward together.
Update Boundaries as You Grow in Your Marriage
Another critical practice is not to let the boundaries that you set at the beginning of your marriage be the boundaries that you will let be the same ones throughout your marriage. The same general principles may apply, but you must update them simultaneously. For example, having children will adjust how you view your boundaries and how you will be able to relate to one another. For instance, you might say you will have several monthly date nights. This is a boundary that you can set that you can protect to ensure healthy marriage boundaries.