We encounter boundaries every single day of our lives: stop signs, red lights, medicine dosage, sports rules, work expectations, the Ten Commandments, and the list goes on and on. Boundaries are a GOOD thing because they help us to understand how to stay safe and healthy in different situations. There are boundaries – spoken and unspoken – for nearly every part of our lives…including our marriage.
I don’t know a whole lot about sports, but I do know that certain plays in a game aren’t “good” if the player goes out of bounds. In baseball, your pitch isn’t considered good unless it is right over the plate. In a football game, you can’t score a field goal unless the football goes directly through the uprights. Staying within the boundary lines is extremely important in order for a team to score or better yet win the game. It works the same way in our marriage.
As a couple, we must establish boundaries to protect the integrity of our marriage. It is vital that we are on the same page when it comes to this. Just like when we’re parenting our children, we must present a united front of established boundaries to those around us…spoken and unspoken.
Healthy boundaries must be in place to protect the marriage and position the marriage to be as strong as possible.
So, what boundaries should we establish in our marriage?
To answer this question, we must contemplate which acts are considered “out of bounds” in marriage. Here are 5 main boundaries that spouses SHOULD AVOID to cultivate a strong marriage:
1. Speaking negatively about our husband/wife to other people, including other family members
If we have a problem with one another, we need to address the problem directly. Nothing good will come from us going to our friends and family about a problem that we really need to take up with our spouse. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have people in our life that we can talk to about our marriage. We just need to be careful with HOW we talk about our spouse and WHAT we say about him/her to other people…especially family members.
We must understand that it is extremely hard for our flesh and blood to forget the negative things we have told them about our husband/wife. Our parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles don’t need to know the details of every disagreement we have with our spouse.
Marriage is hard enough without extended family drama, so we certainly don’t need to add to the problem. We must be mindful of our tone and words.
Besides, it’s WRONG to talk badly about anyone…especially our husband/wife. Instead, let’s brag on one another!
2. Allowing other people to speak negatively about our spouse
As husband and wife, we should be the first to protect each other’s reputations. Yet, many times, we are the problem instead of the solution. We should never allow our family, friends, or anyone for that matter to speak negatively about our spouse. If we witness this, we can put to a stop to it by kindly stating, “Please don’t talk about my husband/wife that way.”. It’s as simple as that.
If the person we are talking to won’t oblige, then we kindly walk away. We will set a precedent with our words and actions, and our spouse will appreciate knowing that we have his/her back.
3. Keeping secrets from one another
Unless we are planning a surprise party for our spouse, we have no business keeping any secrets from him/her.
When we keep secrets of any kind from each other, we limit the amount of intimacy we can experience with one another.
Consider each secret to be a brick that we are adding to a “wall of secrets” between us and our spouse. Some bricks might be bigger than others, but all secrets are the building blocks of the wall.
There should be no barricade between husband and wife. We must stay inside the same boundary lines, and the “wall of secrets” is certainly out of bounds. There should be no SECRET money, friends, texts, emails, letters, jobs, purchases, phone calls, phones, social media exchanges, social media accounts, health issues, trips, outings, lunches, dinners, etc..
As husband and wife, we long to fully KNOW and BE KNOWN by one another. This longing will not be fulfilled if we keep secrets.
For more on the danger of keeping secrets, check out “4 Keys to a More Secure Marriage”.
4. Speaking unkindly to or shouting at one another
Every married couple is going to disagree at some point, and we might argue at times. It is good to go ahead and talk through a disagreement than to hold it inside and let it fester.
However…and let me make this crystal clear…it is NEVER okay to speak in a nasty tone, use harsh language, or scream and shout at each other. This is being verbally abusive, and contrary to the age-old saying, words CAN hurt us.
It’s hard to forget hateful things that are said to us. We don’t have a license to give our spouse a tongue-lashing. In fact, we made a promise to love our spouse through the good and the bad. Lashing out at each other is certainly not loving one another. We must always do out best to approach a disagreement with our spouse as calmly and lovingly as possible.
For a practical guide on how to do this effectively, please read “4 Big DOs and DON’Ts When Arguing with Your Spouse”.
5. Physically hurting one another
This may seem like an obvious one to many, but my husband and I have counseled several couples where this boundary line has been crossed one time too many.
A husband and wife must NEVER slap, hit, grab, push, or pull each other in a physically harmful way. It is NEVER warranted and it is NEVER okay. This is physically abusive behavior.
As husband and wife, we should only exchange loving physical touch. A loving touch is not a forceful one. If you are experiencing physical abuse, please go to The Hotline, for more information and ways to get help.
Let’s always do our best to stay within the boundary lines of a healthy marriage. Be blessed!
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