I recently read a quote from Lysa Terkeurst: “When a boundary is violated, bad behavior will be validated.” This could not be more true, but unfortunately, many people have difficulty setting boundaries, much less enforcing them.
Boundaries are not ways to control other people. They are tools you use to give people choices about how and if they will be in a relationship with you. A boundary is a personal guideline that tells others what’s acceptable to you and what isn’t. There’s no control, gaslighting, or manipulation in a healthy boundary. It’s simply a guideline that says, “If you want to be in a healthy relationship with me, this is what’s ok and what isn’t.”
Boundaries are essential in all your relationships, but most definitely in your marriage. There are three areas in your marriage where you need boundaries if you want your marriage to be healthy and thriving. Placing healthy boundaries in these areas lets others know you value what you protect, whether it be your spouse, yourself, or your marriage. After all, if you don’t value it, others won’t either.
The first area where boundaries are a must is in-law relationships.
These are the people whom you leave and cleave from. Most of your life was spent obeying your parents and doing what they said, but those rules no longer apply once you get married. If you come from a healthy, Godly home, this leaving and cleaving will be encouraged, but that isn’t the case if you’re like most adults.
Transitioning from obedience to honoring your parents can be challenging, but if you want a healthy marriage, you must choose the side of your spouse and not your parents. This means that you begin to make decisions based on what you want as a couple instead of what your parents want for you. It may mean not traveling on holidays or not fulfilling every family tradition you once had if it no longer suits you as a couple.
The second area of important boundaries is the protection of your marriage.
Having guidelines that say what’s good for your marriage and what isn’t is critical. Boundaries protecting your marriage may look like having no friends of the opposite sex, shared passwords on your phones, or never being alone with the opposite sex, even if it’s a work event carpool. These seem trivial but could easily become catalysts for dissolving your marriage. The more slippery slopes you can plan against, the better. They are also great acts of love for one another. Placing a boundary around your marriage lets your spouse know you value your relationship no matter the cost.
Lastly, there will be days when marriage gets hard, and the need may arise to place boundaries against one another. It’s important not to allow a spouse ever to demean you, speak poorly to you, or do any act or behavior that is unacceptable to you. These types of behaviors will only get worse without proper boundaries and follow-through. Remember, when a boundary is violated, bad behavior will be validated.
Protecting your marriage with boundaries is what will set it up for success. When you value yourself and your marriage, you require that others do too. Others will always try to sabotage your life and your marriage, but you ultimately are the one who gets to decide if they do.