Relationship Advice: Setting Healthy Boundaries

By on August 17, 2013
happy couple setting on bench

By Barbara Peters –

As a guest on The Rich Life Show, chatting with host Beau Henderson, I was reminded of the importance of boundaries in a marriage or in a significant relationship. I said that good boundaries make healthy relationships.

What does the term boundary mean? A boundary is a limit you can set (physically, emotionally, and mentally) to protect yourself from being violated by others. You can think of it as a fence around yourself. It is invisible, but it separates you from others. Inside the fence is what you think and feel. Outside the fence are the thoughts and feelings of others.

You begin life as an individual. You have your own distinct emotions, needs, and preferences. In setting your boundaries, you preserve your integrity, take responsibility for who you are, and take control of your life.

Have you taken a look lately at your personal boundaries? If so, are you satisfied with what you see? Some suggestions for building and preserving boundaries are the following:

  1. Know where you stand on a topic, and name your limits. Be clear and confident of what you need.
  2. Focus on your feelings. Do you have a sense of discomfort or resentment? If so, that’s a red flag that a boundary is weak. For example, perhaps you feel resentment that stems from not being appreciated. You may feel someone is taking advantage of you. You might try to solve the situation by doing what the other person wants or expects, even if that effort pushes you beyond your limits out of guilt. Instead, keep your boundary and talk to the person about how you feel.
  3. Be direct in stating your boundary by using “I” statements. An example might be: “I like being intimate with you. I need to talk with you this morning about our intimate encounters. I want both of us to get our needs met.” The boundary here is two-fold; first to set the time, and then to set the topic.
  4. Give yourself permission to have personal boundaries. Our fear of being vulnerable with another person often derails our best intentions. But being afraid of how another person will respond to our needs only serves to create distance. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect.
  5. Be aware of your follow-through. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining a boundary you created, ask yourself why. Look at the situation that caused you to deviate from preserving your limit. Problem-solve your behavior, and reinstate the boundary.
  6. Learn from your past, and observe the impact on your present. Review how you were raised within your family and the messages you received from your adult role models. While those ideas might have had merit at that time, they might not pertain to the life you now lead. Consider what ideas you learned in the past may warrant adjustments.
  7. Maintain self-care. Putting yourself number 1 makes your need and motivation that much stronger to set and sustain boundaries. Being a healthier you allows you to be a better wife, husband , mother, father, co-worker, or friend.

Boundaries are good for all of us. They define who we are and what we are. The better constructed our boundaries are, the stronger we will be as individuals. Individuals with a strong sense of self are better able to be in intimate relationships. Couples with healthy boundaries will reap the benefits of a lasting union.

 

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Relationship Advice: Setting Healthy Boundaries