Meaningful Living

Boundaries in Relationships. ||What You Should Talk About.

Phaytea’s Pulse is participating in the A to Z Challenge for April 2018. The Theme is ‘Building and Sustaining a Meaningful Relationship’ and ‘Boundaries in Relationships’ is our entry for letter B. This challenge will run for 26 days in April except Sundays. Please stop by the blog daily for subsequent posts as we read the letters of the alphabet together. Enjoy.

When it comes to setting personal boundaries, I have that somewhat figured out and can set limits for myself, but the first time I was put on the spot about boundaries in a relationship was at my marriage counselling class.

Our counsellor wanted to know how I would react if I had a female neighbour who always wanted my husband to help with one favour/errand or the other. I remember trying to be diplomatic and saying we would know which to help with and which we shouldn’t be involved in. Our marriage counsellor then said how will you both know if you don’t talk about it or better still, how will he know which request you won’t approve of in your absence? Of course, I said something like ‘he should know what to do’ with a shrug.

By the end of the class, I had a better picture of why boundaries should be set in relationships and what type of things should be discussed. Boundary is a line which marks the limit of an area but in relationships, boundaries are personal choices/light rules made by couples for their relationship. The idea is to have a good knowledge of how each individual in the relationship would like to be managed.

No relationship is entirely similar to another. You can only get bits of advice here and there but never take someone else’s experience as your own story. A good reason is that you only know what you are told about, so if you try to re-enact what you see in the movies or actions by another couple, you just might be shooting yourself in the leg.

Every healthy and meaningful relationship should have boundaries. On the surface, it sounds appalling to think that a couple who love eachother would intentionally draw a line to what can or cannot be done in their relationship.

Some of the most popular narratives are – you are not allowed to use each other’s phone, you cannot visit eachother at work and the funny list goes on. While this type of boundary may come off as highly unsettling, there are more important boundaries that affects the sustainance of a meaningful relationship. I will be sharing some here but first, here’s why you need to set boundaries:

Why You Need To Set Boundaries in Relationships.

Setting boundaries in your relationship does not mean you love your partner less. Boundaries just helps you to be a better partner. It is easier to manage your partner when you know what irks him/her, that way you can refrain from doing it.

Asides identifying pet peeves, here are some other reasons why a healthy relationship thrives on realistic boundaries:

  • Each partner can talk about his/her individual expectation(s).
  • Set realistic rules about what can or cannot be done in the relationship.
  • Both partners get to consciously differentiate what the relationship needs from what it wants.
  • Setting boundaries enables each partner respect individual choices and values.
  • Setting boundaries allow both partners know each other’s triggers words.
  • Each partner has a better understanding of how to treat each other in private and in public.
  • It is easier to avoid unnecessary causes for quarrel when you can identify each other’s boundaries.
  • Setting healthy boundaries refrains you from crossing the line. It teaches you self control.
  • You need boundaries to know how to talk to/talk about friends and family members.
  • Religiously abiding to boundaries builds trust for each other.


Discussing Boundaries

I dislike awkward situations, so as much as I would love to preach the ‘we need to talk‘ technique, I would naturally not go for that. Here’s why, not everyone knows how to use the ‘we need to talk’ line without soundinf like its bad news. A meaningful conversation should not start off on a strong note.

I would usually prefer that you make the beginning of a conversation less intense. It makes both parties relaxed and discussing boundaries is something you should not do when both parties are on the edge.

Healthy boundaries are set from each partner’s personal choice so it must be done amicably and not enforced. The aim should be to jointly work towards building and sustaining a meaning relationship.

Related:How Do You Break The Ice? Pointers To Having The Perfect Conversation Starter

The link above gives some pointers on how to start a conversation. Once that is done, each partner should avoid being defensive and basically just lay fair and realistic cards on the table.

Whether personal or joint boundaries, here are some important aspects in a relationship that should have clear cut direction –

  • What names you call each other (if it matters to any of the couple).
  • How to manage and settle disputes.
  • Budgeting and spending habits.
  • Display of anger (For example, walking away instead of hitting or breaking objects).
  • Display of affection in public (if it matters).
  • Love language.
  • Sleep overs and late night.
  • Sexual preferences.
  • How to spend alone time.
  • Behaviour around friends.

Discussing boundaries in a relationship can come off as difficult especially if it is the first time. The beautiful thing is, you get better at understanding your partner with time.

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