Have you just walked down the aisle and are wondering about the consequences of having no boundaries in marriage?
For that matter, do you have no idea what marriage boundaries are or where to start?
I have helped many couples establish and stick to boundaries in their marriage, and I know first hand the disastrous consequences of having no boundaries in marriage.
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—boundaries—that support it.
Healthy marriage boundaries come in many shapes, sizes and colors.
A few examples:
Make sure you stay yourself.
Allow yourselves time apart.
Make sure there is mutual respect at all times.
Keep the power dynamic equal.
Make time for both sides of the family.
Respect each other’s friends and hobbies.
Of course, it’s important for each couple to decide what works for them, but it is important that every couple establish some boundaries early and stick to them for the sake of their marriage.
So, what are the consequences of having no boundaries in marriage?
1. There are no established rules.
At its most fundamental, lack of boundaries in marriage means that there are no established rules or guidelines in the relationship. The four walls of the house that is marriage have not been built, and as a result, the foundation of the relationship is already shaky.
It is very important that each couple have a set of rules of work from – things that they both are clear about and committed to keeping. Without those rules, couples are forced to stab around in the dark, trying to make their person happy but not really knowing how.
For example, when I was married, the number one boundary that my ex and I should have set was to set parameters around the visiting times with both of our families. We should have talked about where we would spend the holidays, what they would look like, how birthdays were to be celebrated, and our obligation for daily tasks. We didn’t do that, and as a result, our new family was torn apart by the demands of our extended one.
If you and your partner don’t know what rules to follow, you will be lost from the very beginning because you have no path to follow.
2. You could lose yourselves and each other.
One of the biggest consequences of having no boundaries in marriage is that it is possible for each member of the couple to lose their individuality.
Many couples believe that all free time should be spent together, doing together things, even things that one member of the couple might not like to do. And time together is, of course, important. But time apart, spending time with friends and family, doing the things that we love individually, allows us to maintain our individuality in the relationship.
It is that individuality that initially attracted you to each other, and if you lose that individuality because of your relationship, that attraction will be affected. And if you are no longer a person in the world but only part of a twosome, then you will lose your connection with yourself, which could make you unhappy and a not very desirable partner.
And as a result, you may not only lose yourself but you could also lose each other.
3. Contempt grows.
Another one of the big consequences of having no boundaries in marriage is that, because of misunderstandings and a thousand little cuts, anger and contempt build and grow without you even knowing it.
Contempt is defined as “the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.” I believe that the presence of contempt is the beginning of the end for any relationship.
When you are in a relationship and you are trying to keep it healthy, treating your partner like they don’t matter is a sure way to sabotage it. Think about when your partner rolls his eyes at what you say or mocks the words that come out of your mouth or insults your ideas and intelligence. How horrible does that feel? Does it make you want to work to make things better? Not so much.
Contempt comes from the lack of defined rules in a marriage, from the lack of boundaries. It is essential that boundaries are created early on so that contempt doesn’t have a chance to rear its ugly head.
4. Communication becomes impossible.
Another one of the consequences of having no boundaries in marriage is that, over time, communication can become impossible.
Communication is a skill that is developed over the course of a marriage. And marriage is long. If you don’t establish the importance of communicating and staying in touch from the beginning, then you will risk losing the ability to communicate anything with your partner, good or bad, over time.
Think about the unhappily married people who you know. How good are they at talking to each other? Do they snip and argue and roll their eyes and talk about each other behind their backs? Do you see them talking to each other with respect and honesty? Probably not.
It is important that boundaries are defined around the importance of communication in a marriage, because communication is the bedrock of marriages. And without it, the consequences can be disastrous.
5. Your eyes could wander.
Unfortunately, when one’s marriage is suffering because of a lack of defined boundaries, when people are stabbing around in the dark to make each other happy, when they have lost themselves and are angry and mean to each other, it is not uncommon for people to turn to others for support.
When I was married, many of my friends were miserable, and many of them found themselves turning to their friends for support. And many of them found themselves turning to men they knew for support. Not all of them went down that slippery slope to an emotional affair, but many of them did.
They were no longer communicating with their partner, their daily lives were full of anger and contempt, and they felt lost in their marriage. With their new confidant, they didn’t feel that way. They felt happy and appreciated and loved. And they fell in love with someone who wasn’t their partner.
The most disastrous consequence of not setting boundaries in marriage is that it can lead to one or both of you turning to others for the things that you want in your marriage. And when this happens, the shit really hits the fan.
I am not saying that if you don’t establish boundaries, your marriage will be rocked by infidelity, but I am saying that couples can be torn apart by the things that boundaries are set to protect.
There are many dire consequences of not having boundaries in marriage, some of them small and some of them bigger.
It is important that young couples take a good hard look at what is important to them early on so that they can create mutual understanding and define a game plan for what is important to them, both individually and as a couple.
Marriage is long and difficult but it can be wonderful if you do the hard work ahead of time to make it so.