Have you ever had to set boundaries in your marriage?
I was reading a post on boundaries with a difficult spouse in marriage…. this made me wonder if anyone else has had to create boundaries in their marriage? What did that look like for you? How did your spose initially respond? Did it help bring resolution in the long run?
Personally, I have had to do this with two major areas:
1) Around his time management (aka always late), which is actually one area mentioned in the post.
- We often take separate vehicles if there’s a chance he’ll get caught talking.
- If I have plans, and he’s invited to go, I set a time we are leaving, and I leave at that time, with or without him.
- On date nights, if he is more than 15 minutes late, than it is assumed it is postponed unless I decide I am still up to going out.
2) With sexual frequency and expectancy from me, and when it’s off the table (for this season in life.)
- If I am asleep, or shut down at night and all but asleep.
- The first 2-3 days of my period
- I can initiate during any of these times, if I desire.
Anytime boundaries have had to be set, my husband has been bothered by it. He has felt like I was pushing him away and was saying I didn’t want to be close and intimate with him. Our therapist was able to explain it in a way that finally helped him see why it was needed and that it was for the health of the relationship, not to the detriment of it.
Have I ever had to set boundaries in/for my marriage?
Nope! (Understanding that each marriage is different) We are more about trying to live boundary free! So, we work developing our relationships so that we have less boundaries rather than more.
I think boundaries are just fine, i see no problem with them if they are done by a good willed/good hearted spouse but not by one who’s a gatekeeper but i know this goes without saying. It keeps checks/balances in a marriage and i think is one of the safeguards against selfishness.
As for our marriage, i’d have to take some time to think about it. I think my husbands hard boundary is no yelling or shouting in an argument and no name calling or swearing and we have followed that for decades. The yelling part is a bit hard but it is a good one to follow. Only boundary i can think of sexually is OS for him, i take it to completion but don’t swallow and he is fine with that.
Do we have boundaries in our marriage? The question made me think . . . A better way to put it for us are understandings.
I’m an extrovert and Mrs. Oldbear is an introvert. Early on in our marriage it was understood that I didn’t obligate her to social or business commitments. We have always talked about such commitments, before agreeing to/not to commit to them.
I work best under pressure; she’s a planner and never procrastinates. As long as whatever I commit to doesn’t obligate or impact her, I’m free to work and operate at my own pace and style.
During my active working life, being on time was not my forte. Mrs. Youngbear/Oldbear has never been late (not an exaggeration) in her life. I learned to be on time for her. Now days, I’m as punctual as she due to her great influence and my respect (slowly learned by me!).
In our marriage bed, we have understandings – not boundaries. She doesn’t prefer toys and can’t (wants to) give me oral sex (severe gag reflex) – I’m very comfortable with foregoing those things.. We are very creative and generous in our marriage bed. Quantity and quality of sex are non-issues for us.
@Oldbear, thank you. “Understandings” may be an easier way to swallow the same concept. And I could even use that same terminology for us. But when one may say they “understand”, but makes no changes to improve or have self-control, and they are habitually acting a certain way, boundaries are needed when one continues to live in that unhealthy state…it keeps from enabling and being codependent.
We are called to do all we can to live at peace with others, healthy boundaries promote living at peace. Which actually promotes a healthier relationship all around.
Clearly you don’t believe that boundaries are sometimes needed. I am not going to tell you that you are wrong but I will point out that your opinion is at odds with the majority of Christian counselors. Maybe that is a reflection of your faith, or maybe it is simply that you don’t recognize that not every relationship is the same as yours. If I had to guess, you have some boundaries yourself but don’t recognize them as such.
Clearly you have strong opinions on what headship is supposed to look like, but I would submit that others don’t share your view. You are absolutely correct that I could tell my wife to quit criticizing my driving. Do you really believe that I took the steps I did without ever attempting that. It is simple, I removed the opportunity to for her to offend, and in doing so, I removed the likelyhood that it escalated. Do you know what happened? She got the message loud and clear that it was not something I would tolerate. In that case, she changed her behavior. Telling her to stop never made a dent. If she hadn’t changed, then she could drive herself, and I would ride along or take a separate vehicle.
A boundary probably doesnt lead to changed behavior very often, but it always provides a different outcome than conflict. That is the whole point.
In 53 years together, I don’t believe we’ve ever conciously set any boundaries. In fact, the idea of such as expressed in the OP seems very strange. I don’t believe either of us whould have stood for any such hard and fast rules. Our relationship has been based on mutual acceptance of the other’s perceived fallibilities, not to say that there have never been any minor disagreements over such…lol.
Yes. With my mental health due and initial treatment, I had to learn to set boundaries for my own health.
1. He can’t initiate sex if I am asleep or falling asleep on a work night. Not can he wake me up early. I don’t do well if I don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep. It was a big source of contention in our early marriage, but better communication has resolved that. I’m better about announcing when I’m going to bed in time to give him the opportunity for sex if he needs it.
2. I will decide when I go to his parents’ house. His family is abrasive and a big trigger for me. His dad and brother are verbally abusive, his mom is a doormat, and it’s just one long argument every time we’re there. The older our kids get, the less they like it, too. They do a big dinner once per week, and I once was made to feel guilty if I didn’t go. Dh has dropped that since I’ve had doctors tell me to watch myself around them. They still try to guilt me, and they still try to control our holidays.
Dh has gotten a little better about standing up to them for my needs, but it’s still a major issue in our marriage. Dh shows characteristics of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, although I doubt he is aware of that. I can protect myself and my children from his family, but he is still unable to escape what has been done to him. Although my boundaries have made it a little easier for him to say no to them on occasion.
How come you’re the only one in this thread who believes boundaries are so horrible? Are you the only one interpreting Scripture correctly? You said in a response that if a wife tells her husband no, she’s rebelling…I’m not so certain I’ve read that is the Bible anywhere…or are you going to tag that into Eph 5:22 like the overbearing man who just wants to lord over his wife instead of truly loving her?
I like the explanation of boundaries and uderstandings. I believe boundaries are helpful in a marriage when needed
DH and I have understandings. I was trying to think if anyone had actually set them up as understandings or if they naturally fell into place. For instance, we don’t have period sex, not because we think its wrong, but because its painful for me. That was figured out years ago. We have other fun during that time. We don’t wake each other up for sex, out of respect. But, we are free to touch each other however and wherever we want, while the other is sleeping. I tell DH I don’t mind visiting family, but whether its his or my family, 3 days is the limit. He is actually seeing that now, too, that 3 days is enough. His mom wanted to come stay with us and DH asked me first. I said she could come whenever they chose, but I also asked DH if it could be limited to several days. He agreed.
I really like the word ‘understanding’ here. I really can’t think of any boundaries that one or the other of us, has set. But, I am all for them when needed, both in marriage and otherwise.
We talked about this last night when the thread was new. We don’t think we’ve ever had boundaries per se. “Mutual acceptance” and “understandings” as said by RandB and OldBear, definitely. There are also some “self-imposed boundaries”, for instance concerning spending money, or for me where I let myself look (post porn problem). There are certainly some marriage bed (MB) things that would be a “hard no”, but I don’t push those…honestly most of them would be “no” for me too…so no boundary has been needed. What Doug said about driving might be the closest we ever got, as I certainly told Zelda that she should drive at least once early in our marriage after receiving “input” from her! 😮