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Setting Boundaries Is Ruining my Marriage

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From the U.S.: After having a child recently, in-laws have begun to try and be more involved in our lives – visiting more, texting often, etc. Several boundaries have already been crossed (coming anyway when being told “no”, planning visits without consulting me, etc – the planned visits have been changed when I’ve pushed back).

The biggest issue, though, is that my attempts to set clear boundaries is destroying my marriage. My husband finds it silly that I want to set specific plans for visits (arrival times, etc). He’ll also tell me I’m not obligated to say yes to visits, but when I say no, he gets upset and we end up arguing. He believes I’m overreacting when stating I don’t want a certain in-law to stay with us ever again after a pill was left out in reach of our child and animals.

When I visit while he is away for work, he thinks it’s normal for the in-laws to expect to be able to spend some hours with us during each visit since we’ll be close. When I state I’m not comfortable with that – and that I want to see HIM, not them – he’ll call me controlling or tell me that I can sit in the room while he takes our son to see them.

We’ve argued over and over and over again, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want this to ruin my marriage, but I don’t want to give in and just be unhappy and have to visit with them constantly.

Am I wrong for feeling this way?

Setting Boundaries Is Ruining my Marriage

Answered by on -


The arrival of a child changes everything. It’s normal to struggle some with who should visit and how often. It’s especially normal when it comes to balancing in-law visits (whether yours or his). What isn’t normal is how long it is taking for you and your husband to come to some comfortable resolution. Clearly arguing isn’t getting you there. So stop! You won’t get a different result by going over the same ground again and again.

If the two of you could come to a comfortable compromise, you would have done so already. Please see a couples therapist. I don’t make this suggestion because I think either or you is wrong or crazy. I make it to encourage you to take a different approach to solving the problem. Often an experienced family therapist can provide a safe and neutral place to work through a problem. By adding some insights and suggestions, the therapist can help you get unstuck.

Neither of you should just suck it up and just go along to keep peace. This is important work. Figuring it out will help you strengthen yourselves as a partnership and as a parenting team.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Setting Boundaries Is Ruining my Marriage

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Setting Boundaries Is Ruining my Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 May 2019 (Originally: 6 May 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 May 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.