Healthy Boundaries = Healthy Relationships
Experiencing hurts that won’t stop?
Feel like you don’t have a voice?
Is it always your fault?
This might because your boundaries are too soft. If you don’t set limits when the issue is little, you will ‘take it’ for a while, but then find yourself in a big argument – trying to be clear about what you will or won’t accept. If that doesn’t work, you may eventually face the choice of leaving the relationship, as the only way to stop the hurt.
Boundaries are: what you are happy to allow for yourself or around you, or not.
Ideally, they are initially requests. “I’m uncomfortable when you follow the car in front so closely. When I am in the car, would you please allow more space?” If the request is complied with, great! What if it isn’t? Then it becomes a boundary to set.
Setting a boundary is not a threat or ultimatum. It is a request for change or compliance and a statement about how you will care for yourself if the other doesn’t respect or comply. “If you want to keep driving in this way, I will drive myself next time.” Key: you’re not commanding or demanding anything of the other. You are acknowledging they are free to make whatever choice they like. AND, you are free to make decisions for yourself too!
Around issues that cause hurts or frustrations, what are you happy to allow for yourself? If your partner doesn’t or won’t comply, what can you do not to be impacted by their choices? It can’t be retaliation, or you could start a fight. What decision can you make that protects you from experiencing the hurt? Yes, it will mean having to give something up.
Boundaries do require a little self-love. You must love yourself enough to take care of yourself. If it is hard to stand up for yourself or express your needs and wants, this is related to your self-concept – which is a different topic and very valuable work to do as well. For now, think about where you’re not setting firm boundaries and how that contributes to distance in the relationship. Being close requires boundries. Boundaries keep the relationship safe!
Marlon Familton, MA LMHC is a relationship counselor working to help couples navigate the choppy waters of love and romance. Author of the book, “Fix Your Partner in 10 Easy Steps or Less!”
Contact Marlon at Bellevue Family Counseling in Bellevue, Washington.