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?

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    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.)

    • Sundays 
    • 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.

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    21 Answer(s)

      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.

      Under the stars Answered on December 27, 2019.
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        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.

        On the floor Answered on December 26, 2019.
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          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.

          Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on December 27, 2019.

          I love this, Oldbear!

          on December 27, 2019.
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            @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.

            Under the stars Answered on December 27, 2019.

            SC, well explained differentiation between boundaries and understandings. Boundaries are necessary due to lack of appreciation and respect. When appreciation and respect are present in the marriage relationship it results in harmonious understandings.

            on December 27, 2019.

            You actually have done much better at summarizing the difference, I just rambled my thoughts! 🙂

            on December 27, 2019.
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              Sd595,

              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.

              Fell out of ... Answered on December 27, 2019.

              Doug- My real issue with boundaries is that people often use them as a framework to do what is wrong, as if the boundary somehow gives what the wrong thing is some sort of legitimacy.  That is my main problem with them.  Also that they are designed to be one sided so I think they are selfish by nature.  The person says I need this and nobody can ask whether what they say they need is right or wrong.  We can take this to an issue that is core here, someone could say they are defining a boundary that they will never have sex with their spouse.  It is still the wrong though, even if they call it a boundary.  That is my only point, boundaries like anything else need to be tested against what God says.  I am surprised that I am getting such an argument for that.  Shouldn’t everything be tested against what God says?

              on December 27, 2019.

              Didn’t Jesus Himself set boundaries while ministering? Isn’t that testing what we do against what God says? Jesus sometimes told people no….right?

              on December 27, 2019.

              Jesus was obedient to the Word, perfect in every way, and never sinned.  If He set a boundary, it would have been aligned to scripture.  Jesus Himself was under the authority of His parents and scripture says when they found Him in the temple that He was obedient and subject to them.  My concern about boundaries isn’t about them telling someone no or not, it is about whether it is right to tell someone no or not.  There may be boundaries which are perfectly aligned with scripture, and there may be ones that are not.  My real point though is that a boundary isn’t an exemption.

              on December 27, 2019.
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                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.

                Queen bed Answered on December 27, 2019.

                Good for you two on both being healthy enough you haven’t needed them. 🙂

                on December 27, 2019.
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                  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.

                  Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on December 27, 2019.

                  Thanks for sharing DG. One way I have been truly blessed is my husband finally saw and understood my needs around his family so he is very supportive of me hiding away in a bedroom when needed (we travel to them, so I can’t just stay home), not participating in activities his family is doing, and he is the one to do all the communication with them. We feel very similar about being around his family now, and I have actually had to be the one to encourage him to call, and to go visit, for his mom’s sake. He/we had major conflicts in the beginning because of this, but he was willing to make changes and he did get a protective spirit for me and was willing to stand up against his mom and sisters.

                  on December 27, 2019.

                  Also, I have found it freeing to realize that Jesus wasn’t completely selfless, and He set His own bounaries with people. He did what we are currently calling “self care”…. He saw the need to be away and alone from all the needs and to be with His Father. Selflessness can be just as wrong as selfishness.

                  on December 27, 2019.

                  Yes, Jesus practicing self-care was part of my initial hospital therapy. I was practicing no self-care at the time, and learning that Jesus did it was very helpful.

                  I’m so happy your husband has learned to stand up for you. My husband is only just starting to. He rarely does it. When he does, I can see how hard it is. When my MIL tried to make us skip out early on my family’s Christmas meal so we could go to hers, he said no. But I could hear the reluctance in his voice. So many years of being brow beaten has taken a toll on him. I wish so much that he can rise above this someday as your husband has. He’s a good man, and he deserves to feel like he can be a leader.

                  on December 27, 2019.
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                    Sd595,

                    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?

                    On the floor Answered on December 27, 2019.

                    I also like how in one reply you say “all comes from Scripture”…then you pull this line: “I could post some scripture about this, but you already know the scripture. Instead I am going to come at it from a what it does to a husband point of view.” Is the husbands point of view Scripture, or yours?

                    And how condescending to say to another Sister in Christ…I’d quote Scripture, but you already know it…why don’t you just smack her upside the head with your Bible while you’re at it?

                    on December 27, 2019.

                    Condescending would be to list the scripture she is already aware of.  She is smart, she knows what the scripture says.  We just disagree about what it means.

                    on December 27, 2019.

                    Question…you also made this statement…” but I stand by the fact that a wife telling her husband no is rebellious.”

                    Since this is a “marriage bed” forum…let’s relate that to sex. If you go to your DW and say…”I want you to give me OS” and she says no…she’s not feeling well…etc… According to what you’ve said, she’s rebelling? Which I think is a pretty interesting choice of adjectives… She’s told you no to sex, and if we bounce this off Scripture, the only time sex can be refused is for a time of prayer…but that’s not her intent. Do you force her to because she MUST submit? I mean that’s what the Bible says…or do you use common sense and give her a pass, because it’s the loving thing to do and the selfless thing to do, which is the way we should treat every decision about our Dear Wives?

                    on December 27, 2019.

                    ALL_IN-

                    ”I want you to give me OS” and she says no…she’s not feeling well…etc… According to what you’ve said, she’s rebelling?

                    No, that is not being rebellious.  Rebellious is “I am going to do it my way” and I will not follow you or try to negotiate properly with you.

                    She’s told you no to sex, and if we bounce this off Scripture, the only time sex can be refused is for a time of prayer…but that’s not her intent.

                    Technically scripture says couples should only abstain if all 3 of these conditions are met (a) mutual agreement, (b) for a time, and (c) so you may devote yourselves to prayer.

                    Do you force her to because she MUST submit?

                    Absolutely not. When a marriage is running the way it should, it wouldn’t be even a thought to give a wife who isn’t feeling well a mutual agreement to hold off or make another plan.  This is really the wisdom of 1 Cor 7.  In a refuser situation, the person could still give a mutual agreement, but there is going to come a point where for the sake of the marriage, they should not.  At that point the other spouse can either choose to do what is right or they can be in sin.  They might not care if they are in sin, but that is another issue.  I don’t think anybody needs to be forcing anybody, but I don’t think people should be made comfortable in their sin either.

                    on December 27, 2019.
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                      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.

                      Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on December 27, 2019.

                      I agree Brynna, that sounds more like “understandings”.  I can give many examples of “understandings” in our marriage as well.  Even in the boundaries set, there has been understanding because they have been talked through.  He knows from the onset what consequences will happen to certain choices/actions.  Even in the sexual boundaries, he freely offered to take sex totally off the table, but I said no, but here are the boundaries I need set up for my healing and so we may continue in our sexual relationship.

                      on December 27, 2019.

                      Yes, maybe I don’t know you well enough to say this, but I’ll say it anyway. I have full confidence in you, that you are using boundaries correctly!

                      on December 27, 2019.
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                        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! 😮

                        -Scott

                        On the floor Answered on December 27, 2019.
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