Updated: Sep 18, 2022
Boundaries in Relationships are extremely important. In this article we will touch upon two main types of boundaries, the importance of continuously enforcing them in your marriage/ relationships and how to enforce them elegantly.
Generally women tend to give and invest too much or let their standards slide as the relationship progress. Giving too much and the lack of enforcing our standards and boundaries is one of the main reason relationships get in the rut and your man stops appreciating, respecting and thus takes you for granted. It can make the difference between a healthy and happy relationship or a toxic, dysfunctional, abusive relationship.
Let your man give and invest more in the relationship while you should be receiving more. I call this the 5% rule. Ensure he is investing 5% more than you do in the relationship with his time, energy, resources and efforts. There is an art form to relationships - meet your mans' input and investment level, never more than he is willing to put in. This could be a very foreign concept to some women out there who had come from cultures where women are seen and expected to do alot. We we will not be focusing on this expect in this article but we will talk more about failure to enforce boundaries in this article.
Failure to enforce boundaries is one of the main cause in an unbalanced relationship where one partner takes more control of the relationship than the other. Either the man or woman imposing their values on to the relationship - disregarding your needs, aspiration, time, life goals, and even parenting style.
Ladies! Remember, you are worth more than diamond and gold! You are worth every bit to be treated like the Queen you deserve - regardless of your past, social status, financial status..
What is a Boundary?
Boundaries are values that establish who you are and who you are not. They clarify what you are for and what you are against - what you will and won't tolerate. It is simply your property boundary line. It sets a limit for the other person to see what you won't tolerate in the relationship.
When he is out of line and your words have failed to impact your partner then it's time to set a limit. Your words don't help as much as your actions when you are enforcing your boundaries.
A strong boundary = Fulfilling, healthy relationship, not just for you, but its healthy for your partner/husband and children as a whole.
Lets first understand the Types of Boundaries:
There are two types of boundaries to discern: 'Defining boundaries' and 'Protective boundaries' but let's get clear on what they are.
1. Defining boundaries
Defining boundaries are the values that define the core of your identity and it is the reflection of your belief system. Defining boundaries are permanent in your life and they cannot be changed.
Here are some examples of core identity belief :
a) I respect those who show integrity, honesty and courage and I will do and speak up for what is right in life.
b) Doing the right thing may take a lot of courage but I will not divert from it no matter how hard it is
c) I will love my family and friends and I will treat them with grace and truth.
2. Protective boundaries
Protective boundaries, on the other hand, is there to protect your self, life, values, emotions, energy etc.. from harm.
For example, your partner/ husband may be prone to lateness. He's usually disrespecting your time by showing up late or he promises something and doesn't follow through. This is something that impact negatively on your life. It messes with your planing and your daily scheduling. This is an example of a Protective boundary where your partner has transgressed.
When you are faced with a situation where your Protective Boundaries have been violated, I'm sure you would have first talked with your partner about the issue to try resolve it but he has not fixed the situation. This is where women makes the mistake of nagging because what tends to happen is you would normally talk/ remind your partner/husband again and again to express your frustration.
Essentially, you are teaching him that ultimately, he can get away with poor behaviour and the worst you will do is to nag him. The impact of reminding your partner is energetically draining you and as a whole contributes negatively. Sadly in addition, toxic men/ low quality men would instead blame you for nagging and for being angry instead of responding in an emphatic healthy manner. The toxic man/ low quality men will make you feel guilty for voicing your needs and perpetually cause you to lower your standards instead of accepting responsibility for his actions. This is call emotional manipulation by a toxic/ low quality man, so be cautious and attentive on how your man is responding to your needs, always. I want to be clear that not all men are toxic, but if you are dealing with a toxic or Narcissistic man, the steps laid out here may not be appropriate. It is best to speak to an expert if you are unsure.
How do we express our needs and enforce limits to our partner in a powerful, healthy manner?
Only two steps to this;
Communicate and then
Step 1: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
Communication the RIGHT WAY is the bread and butter in relationships. There is the Toxic communication and there is empathetic communication.
So, your first step will be to use empathetic communication to express your boundaries and set limits with your partner.
This is where many women fall short. They do not enforce their boundaries by action but only use their words, which only translates to your man as someone who nags, "like his mother".
So, let's move on, how do you begin communicating your limit healthily?
There are many ways to communicate but here is a short version on how you might begin taking action with a statement like;
"I want us to work this out, but nothing I said has made a difference, so if you continue being 30 mins late to events, I'll take a separate car."
Step 2: Take action The next time he does it again, quit talking to him and just carry out what you both have discussed. - Take the seperate car.
The main distinction between the two boundaries you need to know is Defining Boundary is a permanent state - it represents who you are at the very core of your personal believes and values. For example, you will always believe that women should be treated with respect no matter what. This believe will never change and it's a part of who you are.
However, Protective Boundaries is not a permanent state. It can change if the other person responds to it healthily and changes his behaviour. For example, you may end taking a separate car as soon as the person takes the effort to be on time.
Both of you must understand each other boundaries permanent or otherwise in order to build a balanced relationship where respect and equality are of a priority. Meet each other needs as long as its within reason.
The toxic man/ low quality man will respond very negatively to your actions instead of feeling apologetic and acknowledging his mistakes. If you are in an abusive relationship (emotionally, psychologically, financially, physically ) please do not carry this steps out since it might put you in a high risk situation. Instead please contact a domestic violence organisation and counsellor to help you out immediately.
However a high quality man who is sincerely with you will take you seriously and change his act. ( refer to my article on 5-steps to building Trust where I outlined how to look out for sincere accountability and change from your partner)
If your man is not harming you in anyway but doesn't seem to be keen to take charge and change, then speak to us on how we might be able to look at different aspects of your relationship and empower them.
Check out the article on deciding if your partner deserves to be trusted again, 5-Steps to rebuilding trust in your relationship
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Pro-tip #1: If your partner is disagreeing with your Protective Boundaries, he has violated 'relational trust'- he is unable to look out for your needs, and accept them. Secondly, when there is an argument based on your Defining boundaries (core values), it is impossible to change your values and who you are. You are heading for an indefinite break, down the track if your partner continues to erode you defining boundaries. So take notice and address them accordingly soon.