“When two become one.” Separate and together is a dichotomy in marriage. My marriage has needs. I have needs that are different than my husband’s needs. Loss of identity has always been a big concern for me. I never wanted to get swallowed up in a relationship or be confined by marriage. I believe in clear expectations and healthy boundaries so we both understand each other’s limits and responsibilities.
This blog series is based on the book, Boundaries. We will be looking at how we can “Draw the Line” to respect boundaries in marriage.
1. “More marriages fail because of poor boundaries than any other reason.” Gender roles have changed. There are options now about who will be doing the finances and who will be the primary childcare provider. The line is blurry about who is responsible for what and for how long. Boundaries need to be continuously renegotiated when needs change over time. There is danger in taking or expecting more than what is being offered. There is also danger in not expressing what you really need.
2. Boundaries need to be defined. Limits need to be communicated. Consequences need to be clear in advance. One frustration that I’ve had in my relationship is effective use of time-management. If people are expecting me at a certain time, being late is unacceptable. My husband’s philosophy is more go-with-the-flow, we will get there when we get there. Our personal core values are in conflict on this issue. One day I finally drew the line. I explained to him that it was important I arrive on time. I notified him that I was leaving at 5:00pm exactly. The consequence of him not being ready would be that I leave without him. My car left at 5:00pm exactly and he wasn’t in it. He was then responsible for getting himself to the destination in a separate car. His lack of preparation wasn’t going to make me late. Suffering the natural consequences was a must. This scenario only happened once. Since time-management isn’t his strength, we made a deal. I will only tell him the time when HE needs to start getting ready by. If we need to leave by 5:00pm, I tell him 4:20. The boundary lesson was that my husband now knows I will leave him if he isn’t ready to go on time for an important meeting.
3. We must take responsibility for our own feelings in order to have true intimacy. Feelings can be warning signals that tell us we need something. It is our job to communicate what we need to our partner. Not dealing with feelings of hurt or anger can kill a relationship.
Household duties can be worked out based on interest and individual abilities. Each spouse maintains their own personhood. Spouses can cross the line to trespass on the other’s personhood. When we try to control the other’s feelings, attitudes, behaviors, choices, and values, we are violating boundaries.
4. Setting limits is an act of love in the marriage. When we draw the line in marriage, we become very clear about what we are okay with and what we are not okay with. We define what is my responsibility and what is not my responsibility. When there is a boundary violation, we must act responsible to our partner by confronting him or her. “Only we know what we can and want to give, only we can be responsible for drawing the line.”
“When two become one” the boundaries become blurry. We can be separate people together in one partnership. I am responsible for my feelings, my behaviors, and my choices. When we clarify expectations and communicate needs, we can establish healthy boundaries while “Drawing the Line” in marriage.
Reflect & Share: How have you made your boundaries visible? What information should be kept confidential / private in marriage?
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