Family Marriage

Marriage Masala: Boundaries

Marriage Masala: Boundaries

When we talk about boundaries in marriage we are not talking rules and regulations. Instead we are talking about mutually agreed limits beyond which both of us agree not to go for the health of our marriage.

You set the boundaries at a time when you both are emotionally quiet and stable (when you feel good about each other and your marriage), so that you can be checked by your boundaries when emotions and feelings run high.

Keeping words ‘safe’
Early in our marriage Ruthie and I decided that we would never use the word ‘divorce’ in any confrontation we have. This has become a boundary for us. It means that neither of us can shout divorce at each other in the heat of anger. We are quietly checked by a boundary we have set up when we are cool.

Keeping actions ‘safe’
We also need to set boundaries around our actions. For example, one may be that neither of us will walk away in the midst of a disagreement leaving the matter hanging in the air. We added this boundary when we saw how devastating it was for a spouse when the other walked away constantly without resolving issues.

‘Safe Place’
Boundaries can also keep us emotionally healthy. If you have a constant stream of people visiting, staying or working in your home, like ours, you may not have enough time for each other. So we made a boundary of the bedroom being a place of privacy. Our bedroom is only for ‘Gilberts’. We can retreat there when we need time to talk something over or just to be together. A closed door, a curtain or a couple of cane chairs in the terrace can all make a ‘safe space’ for the family. Boundaries keep us in touch with each other.

Spice it up
Draw a large square or hexagon on a sheet of paper. Imagine your marriage to be the space within those lines. Together write up four to six boundaries you can agree on. Remember you both must agree on each. Take your time if you find it difficult. Remember a boundary can be anything from words, phrases, actions to a physical arrangement that helps, which will build and nurture your relationship. You might like to involve your children, if they are old enough, on boundaries for your whole family.

Adapted from Rod and Ruthie Gilbert’s book ‘Marriage Masala’.

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