What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries?
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries?
If you’re in a committed relationship, you might be wondering, what are healthy relationship boundaries? You love your partner. You want the best for them. They want the best for you. and yet you wind up in fights all the time. Unwanted advice goes back and forth between you like subtle hand grenades. Expectations are not met. No birthday flowers, a forgotten anniversary, your sexual preferences ignored. You may feel taken over by your partner, like you are engulfed and can’t make any decision without them. Or vice versa.
You may feel bored, trapped or engulfed by your relationship or marriage at times. All these patterns are typical of co-dependence that tends to flare up even in healthy relationships once the couple is established. So you are wise to wonder, what are healthy relationship boundaries? As the NLP therapist, Anné Linden wrote, “The most important distinction anyone can ever make in their life is between who they are as an individual and their connection with others.”
Just how do you make yourself happy, your partner happy and the relationship solid? By creating healthy boundaries. All great relationships have them! Boundaries start with you being kind and gracious to yourself and giving yourself mental, physical space, as well as shaping your partner to give you what you want and need. Here then, are six tips to create healthy boundaries that are adapted from my book, Love in 90 Days:
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #1 Lovingly say no when you need to.
For example, If you are overly pleasing or caretaking, practice saying no to yourself and to your partner. First, stop yourself from overfocusing on your partner and overgiving. Say no to yourself and stop that enmeshed behavior. Remember you count! I repeat, you count! And you deserve to be respected and cared for by both yourself and your partner. If need be, practice lovingly saying no to your partner. Don’t allow resentment and anger that can overtake you when you give too much.
This is a key healthy boundary for women! You can say, “So sorry, my love, I can’t make you dinner tonight.” Or, “So sorry, my love, I can’t pick you up at the airport. Please take an Uber.” And you don’t need to give an excuse. “No, I can’t” is a complete sentence! You don’t need to go on and on justifying why you are saying no. Justifications often give your partner the sense that your “no” is negotiable.
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #2 You don’t have to share all your thoughts with your partner.
Reserve some private thoughts, especially ones concerning something you feel confused or unsure about. You don’t have open up or to ask your partner about every little thought or feeling you have. Keep some things for your private crucible of reflection or private journaling. This way you will know what your own personal process is. As a result, your partner will be less likely to overly control your thoughts and feelings. And don’t forget, allow your partner to have his own private thoughts as well!
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #3 You don’t have to share all of your space with your partner.
Women tend to be generous in offering to share everything, including their space. But it’s not just men who need their own cave. It is women too. Find a nook or room where you claim all the space and decorate to your heart’s content. This is a place where you can have “me” time to journal, work, do meditation or simply hang out. Allow your partner to have his space or man cave as well!
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #4 Feel into what you really need to happen in your relationship.
First, allow yourself to know what it is. Focus on yourself and feel and think about what you need to happen in your relationship. For example, do you need to have more thoughtfulness or kindness from your partner? Do you need words of validation, and appreciation? Or simply more attention? Or less demands, as the case may be? As it happens, women can be so focused on others that they often don’t even know what they themselves need.
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #5 Lovingly explain what you need and why you need it.
Once you understand what you need, have loving straight talk with your partner about it. Explain where the need comes from. For example, if you were abused as a child, you may need your partner to not raise his voice when he is angry. At a time when the two of you are feeling close (not during an argument!) share a few vignettes from your childhood in which you father flew into a rage with you. And let him know that, because of this childhood experience, when he raises his voice it scares you. Allow your partner to deeply understand you. Reciprocally, ask your partner what he needs and why!
What Are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? Tip #6 Use the magic phrase, “I would really love it if you (fill in the blank!).”
In fact, no one can be a mind reader. And yet, when there are unhealthy boundaries, we expect just that. And we carry on with a lot of anger when our needs aren’t met. Instead help your partner come through for you by telling him exactly what you want. For example, you could say, “I would really love it if you gave me a soft kiss right now.” Or, I would really love it if you spoke softly to me right now.” Ask your partner to be straight about what he needs as well.
Ok, there are the six tips to remember when you wonder, what are healthy relationship boundaries? So if you follow these suggestions, you will create more happiness for yourself and for your partner. Remember that old phrase, happy wife, happy life? That’s the gist of it!
However, if you feel stuck in a love relationship or marriage that is not working for you, please take advantage of a free coaching session by phone or Skype. Depending on your unique situation, your coach will help you implement some of these tips and more.
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Dr. Diana Kirschner
Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.
“Diana Kirschner’s work is life-changing, love-affirming and wonderfully effective.”
~Dr. Christiane Northrup, Internationally bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.