The continued rise in divorce cases in today’s world is a serious cause for concern and as such married couples and those about to join the sacred institution should adopt various coping mechanisms and some healthy boundaries in marriage.
Some mechanisms that multiple couples have adopted over time include marriage counseling, support groups, vacations, and even fidelity tests. But despite these numerous measures, we still see marriages fail daily and nothing seems to be able to stem the ever-rising tide of broken homes and hearts.
Over the years from the experience from my marriage and subsequently observing other marriages around me, I’ve concluded that we can break out of the cycle of broken marriages; if only we set proper boundaries in marriage or boundaries of marriage right before we enter and also along the way because married life is a journey and we’re constantly learning.
Setting boundaries in marriage can be done by asking your fiance some questions to be asked before marriage. It can also be done by communicating honestly and openly with your spouse about your concerns or fears.
In today’s article, I’m going to proffer simple steps you can take in your marriage to create a sort of protective wall around your marriage. In other words, I’ll be telling you some of the boundaries to set in marriages if you want a long-lasting marriage.
Hey, as you read take time to evaluate your marriage and sincerely ask yourself if you have taken these steps in safeguarding your marriage or if you’ve set these healthy boundaries in marriage.
Many a time this is sorely missing in marriages and the gap it creates goes a long way in breaking the relationship between spouses to the point where they become strangers to each other even though they live in the same house and see each other, at least, ten hours of every day.
One of the causes of this breakdown in communication is the belief between spouses that the other knows (or ought to know) what is going on in his/her mind.
The truth, however, is that no one is a mind reader, if there’s anything on the mind of one partner he/she has a responsibility to share it with the other.
As simple as this is, many marriages are breaking up because of a lack of proper communication especially when it comes to offenses.
For instance, when one partner does or forgets to do something for the other and is unaware of the negative effects/feelings their actions or inactions have caused in the other.
When such a situation occurs, it is expected of the offended partner to draw the attention of the offending partner to what they have done, or omitted to do, and the effects it has caused.
Now, when this is done don’t expect an immediate apology because they might just have a really good and logical reason for what transpired.
At this point, what the offended partner ought to do is listen and understand what the other partner is saying, process everything using it to put his/her actions in perspective.
This saying “there are two sides to every story” is quite true and must not be overlooked. Having each voiced their grievances and defense; the next step would be to apologize, make amends, and accept each other’s faults and apologies.
Once this form of communication is established deliberately and carried out over and over it would become a regular occurrence and would help solve very difficult and volatile problems, confrontations, and emotions in the marriage within a reasonable time.
2. Restrict Outside Influences
One of the marriage boundaries with friends to have is this one. It flows from the above point “communication”.
Inasmuch as partners are not supposed to alienate themselves from the outside world, and must, of course, have friends and relations who would be rightly concerned about the goings-on in the marriage of their friends, children, and family members, you have to agree with me that the presence of many voices giving varying advice can ruin any relationship (i.e. too many cooks spoil the broth).
It is for this reason that married couples ought to establish personal boundaries in marriages or a limit in what they share with outsiders for the safety of their relationship and emotions.
Oftentimes, we hear stories of accusations and counter-accusations between spouses of leaked intimate secrets, advice from friends accepted and gone wrong, partners becoming unnecessarily suspicious of one another because of reports of outsiders, and so on.
To be honest, when it comes to marriage, despite coming from a place of honest care and love, friends and loved ones could inadvertently cause dissension between spouses.
Armed with this knowledge, partners ought to be cautious when it comes to who they confide in, what advice they take, and what report they believe. In fact, they ought to consult, or rather discuss with each other what they heard outside about each other, the advice given on issues before taking any action based on it.
Partners ought to share everything and keep no secrets away from themselves. They should be able to confide, trust, and discuss any, and indeed everything with each other, else they should never have gotten married in the first place.
In other words, married couples should limit the amount of influence outsiders have on their relationship and increase their efforts in communication with each other. It’s one of the boundaries of marriage that shouldn’t be overlooked.
3. Unit Decision Making
One thing every married person ought to know is that every decision he/she makes somehow and someway affects their partner and their marriage.
As such, each decision should be taken, not just with the other in mind, but together as a unit; this is one of the most important boundaries in marriage to set.
At every juncture in marriage, major decisions will be made- the decision to have children, how many to have, the decision to move/travel, to support a family member/friend financially, change jobs, and so much more.
Seeing as even the most inconsequential or personal decision would always affect a marriage, it’s best to talk over every step, situation and make every decision that must be made together.
There are numerous stories out there of how a partner decided to take a job promotion – for the good of the family- but without consulting his spouse and the same promotion becomes the bane of the marriage as the responsibilities that go with it prove to be too much of a burden on the marriage due to the almost constant absence, absent-mindedness, tiredness and forgetfulness of said spouse.
This eventually leads to the other partner feeling neglected, and guilty for feeling that way. In turn, the neglected spouse decides to find comfort somewhere else, it could be an equally tasking job, shopping, traveling, socializing, raising children, a lover.
Eventually, the basic foundations of the marriage are so worn out by lack of communication, suspicion, outside pressure, and influence that the marriage might just crumble under the continued strain.
The above scenario has happened so many times that it has become the script for many bestselling novels and screenplays and as interesting as it is to watch and read, it is heartbreaking when it is someone else’s reality.
Hence, it is of utmost importance that married couples take deliberate steps to involve each other in the decision-making process of everything that occurs in their lives as individuals and as a couple.
Many people -married and otherwise- have this belief that married couples have no right to privacy and have to be together all the time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, four weeks a month, 12 months of the year, for the rest of their married life.
I have to tell you if I have to be with someone all the time, married or not, I’d get really irritated. Once in a while, we need our personal space- space to breathe, think, relax, sleep and even married persons are no different.
Knowing this, partners should learn to give each other space they require to reboot, hang out with friends, think, get over negative emotions, rest, or even carry out personal projects. It’s one of the personal boundaries in marriages that must be set.
This privacy extends to belongings, such as mobile phones, bags, clothes, documents, financial accounts to mention a few.
Where communication exists between partners, the need to be in each other’s business would be absent because of the mutual trust existing in their relationship.
At best, all the curious partner has to do is ask the quiet partner the reason for the unusual quietness and whatever answer is given will satisfy the other.
This again goes to further buttress the need for communication, unity, and understanding between couples because it is very easy for misunderstandings and quarrels to arise in marriages where the couple mistake the other’s need for privacy and space as signs of cheating, anger, rejection, and disaffection.
Now, it is important that the difference between the need for quietness and privacy. One can have quietness while being with their partner- ever heard of “companionable silence”? Yes, you can have that while being in the same room as your spouse.
With this, you can read together, work together, listen to messages, music, watch movies, have a drink, and generally unwind together- enjoying each other’s presence while at peace.
It is also important that couples do not use “privacy” as an excuse to push their partners away, enabling them to keep secrets and create an unhealthy atmosphere in the relationship. This has happened many times over and has led to the breakdown of several marriages.
Hence, spouses must be careful that in their quest for privacy, the room is not created for doubt, suspicion, and naysayers to break down the protective walls of their marriage and destroy what they have worked so hard to build.
Okay, so this topic is very sensitive and ordinarily, it’s not supposed to be but with many opinions out there about the role of making love in a marriage, the whole thing has become muddled up.
The first thing to know though is that many people go into marriage for various reasons- for procreation purposes, for religious purposes, for vocational purposes, financial purposes, and love.
So before going into marriage, the intending partners must know the reasons for the union before marrying, I’m saying there must be full disclosure between couples before marriage.
Moving away from that, in as much as I am a romantic at heart and I believe that lovemaking is an expression of emotions so deep that they cannot be expressed with words and that it should be spontaneous and initiated in the heat of the moment, it is often not the case in reality.
Like everything else in marriage, the lovemaking part of it should be discussed between partners; it is one of the personal boundaries in marriages that must be set.
Now a lot of people loathe having discussions about making love, even married couples and not just women, men especially – with all their blustering, boasting, and all, they are quite bashful when it comes down to it.
But bashful or not, this topic must be discussed by partners. They have to know what they like, what they do not like, what they are willing to try, their reservations, previous experiences with other people, their depth of knowledge, possible traumas, and so on.
The importance of the knowledge of these things cannot be overemphasized because many pre-marital classes and counselors brush over this or give most of the power, and responsibility, in intimate relations to the male partner, which -to me- is not right.
There are two persons in the marriage and both of them ought to decide what they want and when they want it.
Under this boundary, everything from the previous boundaries comes into play. The couple must communicate, discuss all advice and knowledge gotten from outside sources, and reach a decision on what they would do and not do.
Once this decision is made, both of them must learn to respect each other’s choices and limits and not push them (i.e. privacy).
If in the future one of them desires something more, is looking to explore, they must once again discuss it and reach a decision and adhere to it.
The same goes for if one partner does something that the other does not like in the course of intimate relations. It should be discussed and responsibility for the wrong be taken by the offending partner and reparation made in word and deed (i.e. it should not be repeated).
This issue is very delicate and should not be taken lightly at any point. One partner should not be expected to have all the knowledge as relates to this and the other should not be expected to be a body to be used at the will of the other, both partners should take an active part in every aspect of their relationship including lovemaking.
In sum, marriage is a very important institution that can, and should, be enjoyed every step of the way but there are so many uncontrollable variables involved in it that it often goes awry despite our best efforts.
And to be honest, no one man, or woman, can claim to know everything there is to know about it. But these steps outlined above are common boundaries in marriages that most successfully married couples would tell you they took.
And remember every once in a while, take a step back and look at your relationship with your spouse and see if these components are present, if they are – good for you and carry on- but if they are not, it’s never too late to employ them.
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