We hear all the time that having boundaries is a must for healthy living and happiness in relationship. The only glitch is that a lot of people don’t have the slightest idea about boundaries, never mind about setting them appropriately.
I find that couples who struggle and come in for therapy, have severe boundary issues. They are all over their partner and not aware of how they contribute to their repeating negative patterns of relating and dissatisfying dynamics. These partners are waiting for their partner to change. They think that if their partner changes, everything will be OK and they’ll finally be happy. I tell them: “Good luck with that, you’ll be waiting a long time”…
When partners do this, they are disempowering themselves and each other. They put all their focus on the other, which they CAN NOT control no matter what they believe … instead of focusing on how they need to heal, stretch, change, grow, evolve … When this happens change, progress and movement can’t take place and the relationship feels stuck, stagnant or chaotic. It is a very unhappy place for all!
About Boundaries (borrowed from “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend):
Types of boundaries – Skin, words, truth, geographical distance, time, emotional distance, other people, consequences
Contained by boundaries – Feelings, attitudes and beliefs, behaviors, choices, values, limits, talents, thoughts, desires, love
Problems with boundaries – Saying “yes” to the bad, saying “no” to the good, not respecting others’ boundaries, boundary injuries, not hearing the needs of others
Setting Healthy Boundaries:
Own your self, don’t own others – You can’t tell someone else how to be, what to feel, think, do, need, etc. and you can’t let others tell you …
Hold your position – Responsively, mindfully and responsibly stand by your beliefs, needs, convictions, etc. Don’t blow with the wind, be a door mat, or a push over. Don’t be rigid either …
State your thoughts and feelings – Express your self fully with authenticity, without manipulation, strings attached, or attachment to results and outcome …
Get your needs met – Mind how you express requests for getting your needs met in terms of timing, tone, clarity, specificity, doability, etc. … Do express your needs and need for help or assistance. Needing help does not make you weak, it facilitates your growth …
Appropriate structure – Set clear expectations, routines, systems, communication, roles, responsibilities, resources, etc. to keep things clean, effective, healthy, harmonious, and harmonious …
Set other’s up for cooperation – Give options for others to choose from that you can live with when making decisions, enlisting help, making plans, etc. …
The bottom line is to mind and live in one’s world, not the other’s, and share, visit, each other’s world for intimacy. Build and share your world!
Happy Boundary Setting!
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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and a variety of Successful Couple™ content that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly Connection Notes in your inbox with Personal Growth and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com.