Let’s talk about Boundaries in Love.
There are several ways of looking at this.
First of all, there is how we set our boundaries.
Second, we’ll look at setting boundaries in all our relationships so that they’ll be healthy.
Third, we’ll discuss setting boundaries in our love relationships to protect the things we want to do in our lives such as work or self care.
Then we’ll talk about setting boundaries in our other areas of life for the sake of our love relationships.
And lastly, we’ll look at respecting other people’s boundaries.
Setting Boundaries in a Spirit of Love
I want to talk about setting boundaries in a loving way. Because when somebody comes up against your boundaries, they are not doing it in a malicious way. They just don’t know where your boundaries are. And their boundaries are in a different place. Maybe they haven’t been taught about boundaries.
Boundaries are specific to individuals. In other words, what is acceptable to one person is not acceptable to another person. We need to know what we find acceptable. And then we need to communicate it. Because we can’t expect people to read our minds. They may not even know where their own boundaries are, let alone be able to guess where ours are.
When we set boundaries we need to be clear and simple so that it is easy to understand. And we need to be coming from a place of love, so it doesn’t feel like the other person is being attacked. We can use a gentle tone of voice and explain as much or as little as we want to.
The wording will depend on the situation. We can use a firm sentence like “Things are going to be different from now on.” Or we can approach it in a more gentle way and say “I’d like to discuss something with you.” And then tell them what change you are asking for.
The main thing is to make sure we have expressed our boundary and they have heard it. You may need to repeat yourself several times. But if you keep calm, they will eventually take notice of what you are saying. And most of the time they will respect your boundary once they have understood it.
Boundaries for Healthy Relationships
Have a think about where you need a boundary in your romantic relationship if you’re in one.
Does your partner sometimes invade your space? Do you find his or her wet towel or dirty washing on your side of the bed? You could say something like “I’d like you to put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.” Or “would you please hang up your wet towel?”
Does he or she speak for you when someone asks you a question? If so you might want to set a boundary around that. “I’d like to speak for myself when someone asks me a question.”
What about your children? Do they walk in without knocking when you’re in the bathroom? Or perhaps they eat from your plate or drink from your cup! Do they disturb you when you are having time with your partner?
You can ask them to knock when you’re in the bathroom. And explain to them that your plate and your cup are for you. You can explain to them that when you’re having down time, this is adult time, not time for children.
How about your parents?
Do they come to your home and start rearranging things? Do they interfere with your parenting style or try to make decisions for you?
Then you’ll need to set boundaries around those things. Examples of things to say are: “I like how I’ve arranged my kitchen and I’d like you to leave it like that” and “This is how we do it in this house” or “Thanks for your opinion but I’ll make my own decisions.”
Boundaries in Love Relationships
And now for setting boundaries in our love relationships to protect the things we want to do in our lives.
We might need to tell our family members that it is important for us to exercise how and when we want to.
It would be sensible to tell them in advance when we have some extra work or something that’s outside our normal routine.
We might need to explain that when we are sitting at our desk that is when we don’t want to be disturbed.
Boundaries in Other Areas
The other side of the coin is when we need to set boundaries in the other areas of our lives, in order to make room for our love relationships.
We can decide what time we are going to finish work and make a commitment to leave work at that time.
If we’ve got friends who are wanting to spend too much time with us, we can set boundaries there.
We may need to tell them that our main relationship is important to us.
Or if someone like a member of our church is asking us to do things for them all the time, we may need to set boundaries there. We can say something like “I don’t mind helping you sometimes, but this time I’m busy.”
Respecting Other People’s Boundaries
When I think about respecting a partner’s boundaries, what comes to mind is giving them space, letting them arrive home and have some down time.
Also I meet a lot of couples where one partner does all the talking. If you’re one of the talkers, you could respect that a conversation is where two people get a chance to talk. It’s about taking turns to listen and speak, not one person doing all the talking.
Respecting our children’s boundaries might mean knocking when we go into their bedroom.
Letting them be who they are. Allowing them to feel the emotions that they are feeling.
How can we respect our parents’ boundaries? By accepting that they do things differently from how we do things. Not insisting that they take part in activities they don’t want to take part in.
We can also help them to define their boundaries by asking them what their preferences are.
If you have a question or something to add about boundaries, drop it in the comments below.