By: Kim Buck, MBA
Having boundaries with your husband or partner is really critical if you want to live a joyful life together. As women, we really struggle in this area of our lives. Most of us believe that we aren’t entitled to have boundaries with our husbands/partners and most of us have been raised this way.
I believe we continue to receive opportunities to set boundaries for ourselves until we establish them. It is never too late to establish boundaries and it is never too late to teach your husband or partner how to treat you. Having boundaries with your husband or partner will help you thrive.
Where do you start setting boundaries with your husband or partner and how do you begin? Start paying attention to the issues that bother you and ask yourself. “Why does this bother me?” Also ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this? and “What outcome do I want if I set a boundary in this area?”
Generally speaking, men are better at setting boundaries than women. They are raised to believe that their time matters and their needs are important and they are given the space to pursue their dreams and desires.
Pay attention to where your husband has boundaries. Realize that some of these boundaries are there by default – because you had no boundaries, something took shape for him. Where does your husband/partner expect things to be a certain way? Do you desire these same things for yourself? Know that if he has the right to expect these, then you have the right to expect these.
Does your husband/partner schedule in playtime – golf, hockey, etc? This is one of his boundaries. It is scheduled in and he expects it to be respected. Do you have playtime scheduled in? Do you expect that time to be respected? If your husband/partner can expect this, then so can you.
You need to believe that you do matter; that your needs matter; that taking care of your needs first is compassionate, not only to yourself, but to those around you; and that you have the right to say no to anything and everything.
My husband and I have been married for 24 years and we have been together for 30 years. I have only really been setting boundaries with him for the last couple of years and not fully during this time. I have learned a lot from the process. I have learned that if I require my husband to do something, he is willing but it has to be on his time, not mine, and for him, that means when the clock hands align or the moon is full in the sky or whatever bizarre timing he feels is appropriate. In the past, I would simply have said, “Fine, don’t bother. I will just do it myself.” Now, I ask him to commit to when he is going to do the task. By asking my husband when he is going to do the task, he feels like he is in control instead of me controlling him. Getting him to pick a time requires his buy-in and commitment.
I learned that I needed to let my husband know that if he didn’t do the task he committed to do, he would erode my trust in him. I simply informed him in a calm way that this would be the outcome if he didn’t honor his commitment. This gave him the information he required to maintain my trust. It also let him know what the result would be if he didn’t do this.
My husband insisting on a time that worked for him taught me something really important. If he gets to establish the timing of an activity, then so do I. Your husband or partner will learn that your time matters because you have decided that it matters and that you have the right and requirement to establish timing and time-frames that support you.
People generally think there needs to be compromise in relationships. Is compromise a good thing? Think about compromise. Does it have a good feeling to it? Does this leave you feeling less than? Compromise takes a piece of you away. It diminishes you. A compromise is not a healthy choice because you are not choosing this option. You are being forced into this option. It makes you feel like you are giving up a piece of yourself.
Prior to me setting boundaries with my husband, I was always compromising. Are you saying yes to something just to make or keep your husband (or anyone else for that matter) happy even though this really doesn’t work for you? If so, you are compromising.
Concessions, on the other hand are healthy responses to a situation. Feel how the word concession feels. It feels open. It feels like you have a choice. Are you open to this option? Are you receptive to this option? Do you feel content after accepting this option? Do you feel you are still whole? Do you feel heard?
Concessions are healthy and powerful as long as you aren’t the only person in the relationship that is constantly making concessions. If this is the case, then you are settling – settling for less than you deserve, less than you desire.
Now that I have set boundaries with my husband, I no longer compromise. Sometimes I make concessions. Sometimes he makes concessions. I am no longer losing a part of myself.
Establishing boundaries with your husband or partner is really a retraining process. It won’t happen overnight and it takes consistency on your part to make it so.
Take responsibility for what you desire in your relationship with your husband/partner. Take some time to figure this out. If you are too busy for this step, you need to rearrange your life so that you have some time for yourself.
Honor yourself enough to stick with it. Require your husband or partner to respect you because you respect yourself and require your husband to respect your time because you respect your time. You need to show him that you value and respect yourself, you value and respect your time, you value and respect your needs and wants, and you require all of these to be valued and respected by him. Remember, you teach people how to treat you.
© 2015 Kim Buck, author of The Thriving Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries.