Have your friends been telling you that establishing boundaries before marriage is a very important part of a successful marriage? Do you want to be happily married but do you have NO IDEA what boundaries are and how to set them up in your relationship? Let me help!
To understand healthy marriage boundaries, look at the four walls of your house. Those walls are the structure that holds your life together. They hold your food and your bed and your possessions, and it’s where you live your life. Healthy marriage boundaries are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your marriage as it matures. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures and boundaries that support it.
Here are a few of the essential ones.
1. Always be true to yourself.
When some people get married, they become less themselves. They take on their spouse’s friendships, their hobbies, and their ways of doing things.
It is VERY important that all people stay themselves when in a relationship. Every healthy relationship is based on truth, and if you are anything other than your true self, your marriage will never be really healthy.
It is also important that you continue to respect yourself by being yourself. By continuing to have your friends, to do your own hobbies, to have a career that you love and a healthy lifestyle that serves you, you will wake up every day feeling good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, your partner will love you even more because they know you are being your true self, someone who is ambitious and smart and willing to take risks to get what you want.
So be yourself in your relationship. A healthy marriage requires it.
2. Practice compromise.
I have a client whose new husband moved into a house that she already owned. Right away they had issues because it was her house and she wanted to do things her way and that just wasn’t okay with him.
It is important that everyone be flexible in a relationship. Just like you would at work or with your family, it is important to work with your partner so that you can both live a life that is authentic to you.
You know the phrase “My way or the highway?” That phrase has no place in any healthy marriage.
3. Maintain mutual respect.
One of the biggest romance killers in a marriage is a lack of respect.
It is important in every relationship that you each respect each other. Respect each other within the confines of your relationship by speaking to each other honestly, sharing your feelings and needs in an open way, and not attacking each other personally and criticizing each other’s behaviors and actions.
Furthermore, it’s important to not criticize your partner out in the world. The general rule of thumb is that you should not tell something about your partner to anyone that you haven’t already shared with your partner.
So make sure you treat each other with respect, both inside and outside the relationship.
4. Don’t give up your power.
In many marriages, at some point one person becomes the one calling the shots. And while this seems to work on one level, ultimately the relationship will become uneven. And when power dynamics are unequal, a marriage can change.
Make an effort to keep the decision-making even and fair in your marriage. If you are good at organizing your social life, then do that, but give your partner the opportunity to choose events. If they are good at managing the finances, let them do that, but continue to have input into where the money goes and why.
Letting your marriage’s playing field become uneven allows it to slip into a sort of parent/child dynamic, where one person is in charge and the other does as they are told. Does that sound like a healthy relationship to you? Not so much.
5. Spend time apart.
When they are falling in love, couples want to spend every available minute together. The feelings that accompany falling in love are addictive and hard to walk away from, even for a short while.
It is important, however, that you spend time apart from the one you love.
You know the old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? It’s true!
So, spend some time apart. Miss each other. Value each other. Keep that spark alive.
Now that you know what boundaries look like, we can address why establishing boundaries before marriage is important for a healthy one.
1. It helps you know if you are compatible.
Establishing boundaries before you are married is important because, in doing so, you will understand whether or not you are compatible.
In spite of what many people believe, things won’t change when you get married—habits and behaviors that exist pre-marriage will carry over into marriage
If you try to establish boundaries after marriage and you don’t agree on the how or why of them, then you will be stuck with someone it might be difficult to spend your life with. Love is important in marriage, but it only goes so far.
So talk to your partner and spend some time defining your boundaries. Doing so will allow you both to confirm that this marriage is the right choice for you.
2. You’ve been practicing.
If you work on establishing boundaries before marriage, when you actually get married, you will have been practicing those boundaries, learning what works and what doesn’t. You will have established behaviors and practices that work for both of you, that keep you happier together.
So when the wedding is over and the birdseed has been thrown, you can feel confident that you can ride off into the sunset together, knowing what is important to both of you and that you both can do the work!
3. You are a team.
After marriage comes extended family and sometimes babies. Having established boundaries will help you stay strong as a couple while facing these challenges.
Extended families are wonderful and sometimes not so much. Traditions that have been established in one family sometimes don’t work in other families. In-laws mean well but can be interfering. Babies completely rock your world in so many ways.
If you have a truly strong bond that is the result of the boundaries that you have established, you will have a much better chance of riding out those challenges together.
Establishing boundaries before marriage is a key part of building a strong bond between the two of you.
I know that we all think that we have found our soul mate and best friend and that nothing can possibly come between us, but the reality is that marriage is long and hard. It takes work.
If you know what to expect from and of each other before you are married, then you will have a much better chance of truly being happy.