5 Boundaries That Actually Bolster Your Bond in Your Marriage
We think of boundaries as keeping us away from our spouses, as creating distance, as thinning and weakening our bond. But boundaries—healthy boundaries—can actually strengthen our connection and bolster our relationship with our partner.
For instance, when you set a boundary that creates space for both partners to focus on their interests and desires, rather than one person having control over the other, each spouse feels heard, said Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT, a psychotherapist who specializes in couples and premarital counseling in Marin Country, Calif. “[T]heir connection is more positive than if one feels silenced.”
According to psychologist and relationship expert Susan Orenstein, Ph.D, boundaries are limits each partner sets to feel safe, respected and valued in the relationship. This prevents partners from feeling threatened. Which is critical because if they do feel threatened, instead of feeling joy and warmth or experiencing spontaneity, their mental energy will be spent on scanning for danger, she said.
“When you establish your boundaries, and are respectful of your partner’s boundaries, you can both feel safe and secure and will more likely experience love toward each other.”
Marriage and family therapist Cindy Norton views boundaries as guidelines that define how you’d like to be treated by others. “Having healthy boundaries means that you get to define what is acceptable. A common way of describing personal boundaries is where you end and others begin.”
Boundaries also help couples get on the same page, said Priscilla Rodriguez, LMFT, a relationship therapist who specializes in infidelity, sex and intimacy and military couples in San Antonio, Texas.
But, of course, not all boundaries are created equal. Below you’ll learn about five boundaries that actually help you get closer.
Setting a boundary around personal time. “I know this may sound counterintuitive, but having boundaries around time for yourself can actually help bolster your connection with your partner,” said Norton, founder of AVL Couples Therapy in Asheville, N.C. That’s because when couples spend all their time together, they start to lose themselves, including “those qualities that initially attracted their partner to them.”
Similarly, as marriage and family therapist Amy Kipp noted, “you are more interesting to your partner when you aren’t always together.” Which is what relationship expert Esther Perel speaks about in her TED talk, along with the idea that desire grows when we see our partners in their own element, engaging in activities they enjoy and are passionate about.