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Setting Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship

July 31, 20195 min read

Boundaries…we should have them for pretty much all facets of our lives. They set the stage and provide crucial guidelines people use to establish the way they allow others to act around them. Moreover, boundaries help us to maintain self-worth. They show others how we want to be treated, and certainly helps us avoid feeling used.

Healthy boundaries are essential to ensure your relationship has a fair chance to grow and thrive. Each partner has to clearly communicate his/her boundaries. Likewise, the other person has to ultimately respect them.

Identify Your Own Personal Boundaries

Take a look at yourself and think about what is important to you. In other words, what are your individual needs, your values, what makes you happy, and even your likes and dislikes.

Furthermore, how do you want to be treated? Next, think about what traditions you may want to keep when you enter into a relationship.  This requires knowing yourself which is a part of self-awareness.

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Communicate Your Boundaries

Now that you’ve had some time to think about you and your needs, it is time for you to communicate those needs to your partner. For instance, when sharing your needs, be specific about them.  This ensures your partner doesn’t have to assume anything or draw conclusions from what isn’t clear to him/her.  

An example of communicating clearly could be: “I would like for us to both contribute to the decision-making process concerning our finances.” So if your partner crosses a boundary after you’ve communicated it to him/her, it is best to address it at the time it occurs. 

Letting it fester will more than likely result in a heated argument that spills over into other issues besides the one at hand.

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Having Alone Time And/Or Time For Family And Friends

Certainly you have a close circle of friends and/or family that you usually spend time with.  In addition you look forward to some alone time.

Ensure that you set these boundaries in your relationship to avoid problems with your family, friends and in your relationship. We all need space sometimes.

More importantly, if you’re in the right relationship, your partner will be understanding of this, as well as the time you spend with family and friends.

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Your Sexual Preferences

While this may be an awkward topic for some people, if not discussed, it is one that can create much conflict in a relationship in many ways.

In addition, there is a lot to discuss relative to your sex life. This includes likes and dislikes, how frequently you’d like sex, birth control and sexually transmitted infections (STI), just to name a few.

For example, while talking about STIs or asking your partner to get tested may seem intrusive, not discussing this could endanger your health.  Also, you may prefer sex in the morning, your partner prefers it at night.

Either way there should be a discussion about each of your preferences and your willingness to work out an arrangement that you both can agree on.

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Finances

Studies have shown that finances are one of the leading causes of conflict in a relationship. Consequently, it has led to divorce.

When you’re in a long term relationship, the conversation about money needs to happen sooner than later.

For example, you and your partner may have completely different ideas about saving and spending. Don’t wait until your partner has perhaps created a mountainous credit card debt.  

More importantly, it is better if you have a calm conversation before any particular money issues arise. Having separate accounts is always recommended.

Certainly you could have a joint account for paying household bills.  In addition, each of you having at least one separate credit card ensures maintaining your individual credit history.

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Understanding That Your Partner Also Has Boundaries

Relationships are a two-way street, so just as you have needs, your partner does too. In other words, be open to listening to your partner’s needs, likes and dislikes, as well as any concerns he/she may have about any boundaries in your relationship.

Family

At times the people closest to us may be the most difficult to set boundaries with. Nevertheless setting boundaries with family is necessary.  

The hard truth: While we can pick our partners, we can’t pick our partner’s family.  With that reality comes the fact that we get the good, the bad and the ugly as it relates to dealing with them.

For instance, if your partner is a “mama’s boy” or a “daddy’s girl”, this could be a delicate situation when setting boundaries.

Also, as a couple there should be things that are kept just between both of you and not shared with either of your families.  

Family members with no clear understanding of boundaries may unexpectedly stop by your home or get involved in your personal business.   If this happens and is creating problems in your relationship, it’s time to establish some stern boundaries.

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Household

Maintaining a household involves many components – from shopping, child care, cooking, cleaning and paying bills to car and other home maintenance.  

The million dollar question – “Who does what?” A discussion should be held about household chores as they are shared responsibilities.

For instance, talk about each of your views on things like making the bed every morning, cleaning the bathroom regularly, or even timely payment of bills.

Also, to maintain a happy relationship, it is essential to put some good thought into it. Likewise, discuss and divide the housework accordingly. 

Consider divvying up the chores based on what each of you enjoy doing.  Last, but certainly not least, show some appreciation for your partner’s contributions.

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Below are a few examples of what constitutes healthy and unhealthy boundaries:

Healthy

Communicating truthfully

Recognizing differences with your partner

Recognizing your happiness is your responsibility

Being upfront and honest about what you want and need

Acceptance of endings

Unhealthy

Dishonesty and manipulation

Being suspicious or jealous

Having a sense of incompleteness without your partner

Having a fear of communicating your wants and needs.

Inability to let go

Give your relationship a fair chance to succeed by considering your own values and boundaries.  Equally important is communicating them clearly, and ultimately holding you and your partner responsible for upholding these boundaries, which will maintain a happy and healthy relationship.

You deserve to be respected, therefore creating and maintaining healthy boundaries are necessities for a healthy relationship. Your relationship will flourish with these boundaries, allowing you to be true to yourself, while being supportive of your partner.

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