Stay Newlywed Logo
Table of Contents

Setting Boundaries.

Not long after we were engaged, Jake removed a lot of the single women from his friends lists on social media and his phone. I never asked him to, he just did it.

While it seemed so romantic in the moment I still had to ask why he thought to do that. His response? “I don’t want there to be any opportunity to trade something great for something good.”

That shocked me.

It wasn’t that he was tempted to talk to these other women, he just wanted to make a standard of protection in our relationship. He decided that anything momentarily good wasn’t good enough to jeopardize our great relationship.

That response has been the standard that we use to set a lot of the boundaries in our marriage.

Keep what brings life and joy to your relationship while protecting yourselves from things that bring pain and separation by setting boundaries in your marriage.

Setting boundaries in marriage is crucial for a healthy relationship. In this article, we will discuss marriage boundaries and provide tips on how to set them.

What is a marriage boundary?

A boundary in marriage is a line that you and your partner have established to define what’s acceptable behavior in your relationship.

Have you ever gone to dinner with your spouse or a friend and they are scrolling on their phone the whole time? I think we can all relate to that. Being on the receiving end of that behavior cheapens your time doesn’t it? It makes me feel like I not only wasted my time, but that person across the table obviously has more important things to do than be with me.

That sucks. But I know I’ve been guilty of that once or twice.

Where your time and attention is focused, that is what you truly value. There isn’t a way around that fact. Work, friends, video games, Netflix, your kids…ask yourself: Is the majority of your time focused on things and other people or your marriage?

Marriage boundaries are not about control or making your marriage the only important thing in your life. But they are a tool to support your self awareness and a way to create a safe and trusting environment with your spouse.

The importance of setting boundaries in marriage

Marriage boundaries will keep you both feeling safe, respected, and secure while allowing you to feel free to be yourselves and express your individual needs, wants, and values.

Boundaries protect you as an individual

Clearly communicated boundaries can bring understanding and respect to your needs and expectations. They help ensure that you’re taking responsibility for your own emotions and behavior and can be helpful to avoid codependency by allowing you to maintain a sense of independence.

Boundaries protect your marriage

When both of you are aware of and honoring each other's boundaries, the trust in your relationship will grow. Securing a foundation of trust only encourages you to continue to communicate openly and honestly. You’ll feel at ease in a positive and supportive environment and you’ll most likely communicate better and avoid arguments that come up from misunderstandings or crossed boundaries.

Marriage boundaries are required. They need to be identified, set, and agreed on. They are critical to maintaining a healthy and safe relationship. We like to look at our marriage boundaries in two different buckets: Internal Boundaries and External Influencer Boundaries.

Internal marriage boundaries we need

Maybe it’s a little bit of a misnomer, but these marriage boundaries encapsulate everything we set within the context of our relationship. These aren’t exhaustive and every couple will need to set boundaries that make sense to their circumstances.

  • Personal boundaries

    It’s important that you choose to respect each other’s need for self improvement and down time. Make time for each of you to pursue your interests and hobbies, enjoy friendships, and practice self care.

  • Physical boundaries

    Marriage is a beautiful place to explore and express your sexuality and aspects of physical touch. But it’s still wise to discuss what may be on or off the table. Discuss the boundaries you have regarding sex, appropriate touch in and out of the bedroom, and any personal space preferences you may have.

  • Conflict resolution

    Identify the acceptable ways to argue. Having it set ahead of time can help you not cross any lines. Clear communication, listen to each other, no physical abuse, no name calling, no throwing things or other violence. You might even want to have a time limit and a short cool down before continuing during a longer argument. In our home we don’t allow threatening to leave or the flippant use of “divorce” unless it’s actually intended.

  • Emotional boundaries

    Contrary to most rom-coms you see, your spouse is not the sole answer you’ve been needing in life. While they can certainly influence your mood, they are not responsible for your happiness or feeling complete. There are a lot of emotional boundaries that can keep yourself and your partner valued, but here are a few ideas:

    • Trust: Find ways to develop a foundation of trust and mutual understanding, and don't be afraid to express your concerns.
    • Respect: Always treat each other with respect, and never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.
    • Support: Be there for each other in times of need, and be willing to offer support - even if you don’t understand where they’re coming from.
    • Honesty: Always be honest with each other and take responsibility for your words and actions.

External influence marriage boundaries we need

External influencers are everything that try to impact our marriage from the outside. It’s incredibly important to be open and honest with each other about how these things make you feel. These aren’t exhaustive and every couple will need to set boundaries that make sense to their circumstances.

  • Time

    When your time spent out of the house or on your personal needs gets out of balance with the time you spend on your marriage, you are making a boundary to keep your spouse on the outside of your life. Evaluate where you’re spending your time and be sure to keep your marriage a priority.

  • Family and friends

    You and your spouse have created a new nuclear family. While family and friends will always be important, they are not your main priority. This can be a sensitive topic. Be sure to talk about how often you want to visit with family, are you ok with people coming by unannounced and who gets the authority to speak into your marriage. Do you have a lot of single or divorced friends who talk unhealthfully about marriage? Don’t allow them to have a voice in your marriage.

  • Your attention

    Do you stay late at work a lot? Do you bring work home with you? Do you check your emails while your spouse is telling you about your day? Do you watch tv while you eat dinner and then go to bed scrolling on your phone? You might need to take a look at your attention and decide what is going to add more long term joy to your life.

  • Kids

    This can be a particularly difficult one, but it’s necessary to mention. You are raising a beautiful child that will grow up and change the world…and move out. One reason for divorce after 50 is empty nesters who don’t know the person they’re married to anymore. They grew apart because their focus got diverted to the kids. Be mindful to continue to prioritize your marriage even when you have 2 under 2! Or more!

  • Time spent with the opposite sex

    Spending time or messaging with the opposite sex (that isn’t a family member) is a slippery slope. Most affairs begin with an emotional connection. Discuss what you think are appropriate and inappropriate situations. Should you be open about who you talk to and spend your time with? Being transparent is a way to build trust in your relationship.

  • Secrets

    Secrets degrade trust you’ve built. My friends understand that Jake and I don’t keep secrets from each other. However, we keep secrets together. They know that if I know, Jake will know, however it stays between us. If they decide not to share with me, that’s their choice. Our boundary is that we won’t choose loyalty to a friend over loyalty to each other.

Stop sign in front of a clear sky and power lines

How to Set Healthy Marriage Boundaries

Setting boundaries in a marriage is essential for creating a healthy, happy relationship. But this is not a one and done conversation. Sometimes boundaries change as trust grows or you might even have temporary boundaries in certain seasons or during struggles.

Start by communicating your needs, wants and expectations. Be sure to understand that sometimes you might not recognize the boundaries you need until they’re crossed. This is ok. Talk about them as they come up and always leave room for grace and forgiveness.

Take responsibility for your part in making the boundaries work. Listen to each other and be sensitive to each other’s feelings. You may not understand exactly where your spouse is coming from so look for understanding and compromise when it’s appropriate.

Are there consequences for crossing certain boundaries? You don’t have to identify a consequence for everything, but some might need to be laid out.

It’s important to be able to identify and communicate what your needs, wants and expectations are, and it’s equally as important to respect your partner’s needs, wants and expectations. Choose open dialogue and set clear boundaries that both of you agree to adhere to. Setting boundaries in marriage will help you both better understand each other and create a more peaceful marriage.

Your challenge today

Marriage boundaries are essential to a safe and healthy relationship. Don’t wait for your next date night or weekly Connection Point. Get together today and take 20 minutes to make a list of the areas where you each feel you need to implement some boundaries. Don’t get overwhelmed by each other’s lists; you don’t have to tackle them all at once. Decide where you’ll start first and go from there!

Share This StoryFacebookTwittermail
CommunicationConflict ResolutionExpectationsMarriage AdviceOneness
Read NextA couple on a date sitting at a table drinking tea

Habits of a Healthy Marriage: DATE NIGHT!

Do you have regular date nights? Establish a date night habit that will bring the two of you closer together plus get your next date night activity on us!

Two corded dial phones sitting on a white background

12 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills for a Stronger Marriage

Ever noticed how marriage has a knack for highlighting just how different you and your spouse are? Here’s how communication skills can get you on the same page.

A black alarm clock sits alone on a table

Practical Ways to Make Time for Your Marriage

Go from saying “I don’t have time” to knowing how to prioritize time for your marriage with our practical tips.