Paula Gurnett, C.C.C. Novemeber 10, 2021
Have you ever felt angry or hurt because of something your partner said or did?
Setting boundaries allow us to be transparent with our partner about how we feel, so we can have a deeper, longer, lasting relationship. They do not have to be hard or aggressive rules, but they do need to be clear in order to set your partner up for success as they try to respect the boundary you are setting.
The word boundary might be interpreted as pushing someone away. It is better described as an invitation to let your partner in to learn more about you and your needs.
Setting boundaries with your partner can improve the strength of your relationship. Not only are you inviting your partner to learn more about you, but you are also claiming responsibility for your emotions and how you take care of yourself.
Benefits to setting healthy boundaries:
Take care of mental health. Boundaries allow you to take responsibility for your emotional energy and mental health. Setting healthy boundaries can help you name your limits with your emotional energy in mind.
Give both partners a safe space to be transparent and vulnerable. Setting boundaries creates a safe container for both partners to be honest. It’s a way to grow trust and foster love.
Learn about yourself. Learning where your boundaries are is a process of tuning into your own needs. Setting boundaries allows us to care for ourselves and is a protective factor in resentment building.
Follow these tips to set boundaries in your relationship:
Include your partner. Let your partner know why you might be setting boundaries. Check in with their emotions. Invite your partner to learn about setting boundaries along with you. By including your partner you are able to make agreements, rather than operate out of unspoken expectations (which ultimately lead to let-downs and confusion).
Explore what you need. Pay attention to where you might feel resentment, guilt, or anger towards your partner.
● What makes you feel uncomfortable?
● What values are important to you?
3. Make the boundary about you and your needs. When you state a boundary, focus on you.
● “It was great to spend time together this weekend. I would like to decompress alone the rest of the night. Want to get lunch in a couple days?”
● “In order to continue this discussion, I need us to be calmer.”
● “I feel attacked when my point of view isn’t considered. I need a space to feel heard and understood.”
4. Start with thank you. If you have trouble setting boundaries, start by thanking the other person for their thoughts or requests.
● “Thank you for wanting to spend time together, but I would like to spend some time decompressing.”
● “Thank you for inviting me to spend time with your family. I would like to spend some time with them and feel free to leave when I feel tired.”
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries
As you and your partner set boundaries, it’s important to understand that setting a boundary with the intent of controlling the other is not a healthy boundary.
For example, one person might say, “You cannot take a dance class, because I get jealous”. That reflects a lack of trust and attempts to maintain control over the other person.
A healthy boundary does not control the other person. They’re about what makes you feel most comfortable, but without trying to control the other. Boundaries set each person up to be responsible for themselves and removes the pressure of managing each others emotions, responses, or reactions. Boundaries respect and honor both parties to grow and thrive together.
Although committing to grow together, you and your partner are still two different people with separate needs and expectations. Boundaries ensure that you both continue to respect one another, communicate, and honour each other’s needs.
Boundaries allow you to celebrate your individuality, while choosing to share your journey together. They will deepen the connection between you and your partner as you learn more about each other.
“The only people who get upset about you having boundaries
are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.”
– Unknown -