Being able to say ‘no’ is part of setting healthy boundaries with yourself and with others But, do you ever struggle with saying that little two-letter word? Ever feel the need to offer an explanation? Therapists are here to help you discover that there is no need to worry or explain (most of the time anyways).
Boundaries are dividing lines that create limits and awareness. In marriage, boundaries may appear restrictive but they actually promote protection, security and clarity. One of the best ways to show your partner you love and avoid painful consequences is to respect and honor the boundaries set in the marriage.
One area where this can be a challenge is in engaging with the opposite sex. There can be a lot of “gray” when it comes to this as we are often in environments with inevitable interactions between the genders. Creating boundaries for engaging with others should be a collaborative activity that leaves no questions as to what is “appropriate” versus “inappropriate.” Couples are a team and a team functions well when each player/partner understands and agrees with the rules.
Here are a few helpful things to think about when deciding your boundaries:
If you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your spouse, then it probably shouldn’t be said or done at all.
Do not discuss marital issues or your spouse's flaws with others
Incorporate device transparency including passwords and any communication with others.
Identify what is appropriate to watch and where is appropriate to go both alone and together
Avoid as much one on one time as possible with the opposite sex
Substance use around mixed gendered groups
Creating space for open and honest communication regarding struggles, needs and wants in the relationship.
Be intentional and thoughtful in this process. Do not be afraid of creating black and white limits as they will protect your relationship in the long run.
Boundaries are rules and limits that you present in your interactions with others. They can be physical, mental, psychological and spiritual. Setting boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and are good mental health practice. It can, however, often be difficult to set boundaries with the people whom we are the closest. Setting and sustaining boundaries with family is a skill that needs practice.
Here are a few helpful ideas on how to set boundaries with family:
Practice self-awareness- Understand yourself and your needs. Remember your needs and feelings are important. Setting boundaries happens when you understand your feelings and honor them.
Name your limits- You aren't able to set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your limits. Ask yourself- What behaviors will I not tolerate? What kind of relationship do I want with my family?
Be firm, but kind- Setting boundaries doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be callous.When you set a boundary make sure you are clear.
Keep realistic expectations- Be realistic with yourself about what boundaries you want to keep. Follow through with boundaries can be difficult, but keep at it and remind others of the boundaries you set.
Be direct and assertive- Don't drop hints or be passive aggressive about your boundaries. Being clear about what is okay and what is not okay is the only way you can make sure others understand you.
Take care of yourself and your needs- Practice self-care. Go for walks, read, or spend time alone. Make yourself a priority.
Start small- Boundaries takes practice. Start with a small boundary and work your way up to more difficult boundaries.