The boundaries that a couple sets with their extended family and friends is very important to the relationship. A couple who doesn’t set enough boundaries may feel frustrated when others infringe on their rights as a couple. A couple with too many boundaries may feel isolated. Determining how to set appropriate boundaries for your marriage can help you stay connected as a couple.
Boundary issues often revolve around time. For example, a friend asks to sleep on your couch until she “gets back on her feet.” Would you say yes? How long would you let her stay? Allow her to overstay her welcome and you risk your spouse becoming resentful. Not allowing her to stay at all may risk the friendship and cause you to feel bad for not sharing your good fortune.
Money issues are another way that boundary issues show up in a marriage. Perhaps you have a brother who is always asking to borrow money but never pays you back. Maybe you lend him a few dollars and it drives your spouse crazy. But because he’s your brother you feel obligated and keep doing it. Maybe you eventually start doing so behind your spouse’s back.
These sorts of boundary issues can create marital conflict when they are not handled well. It is important for you and your spouse to talk about your boundaries. It is also important to come to a mutual agreement on how to handle a situation. Perhaps you both decide that your friend can stay in the home but only for a month. At the end of the month, you’ll help her find a new place to stay. Or maybe you both decide that you aren’t going to loan your brother any more money but that you would be willing to pay for him to take a course on managing his finances.
Setting healthy boundaries can require some creative conflict resolution skills. It also requires both partners be willing to share their feelings openly and honestly with one another. Healthy boundaries are essential for an intimate marriage.