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Establishing Boundaries With Family In Your Marriage

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The keys to a healthy marriage are having and sticking to respectful boundaries.

As husband and wife, you are a team. Any any successful team has established boundaries and roles that each person plays.

This is why I decided to do a boundaries series to discuss different areas of your marriage where you must set boundaries. The first one we will discuss is setting boundaries with your extended family.

What is a boundary?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a boundary is something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent. 

In terms of a marriage, a boundary is a guideline that both parties agree upon in order to set limits in the relationship. 

Why are boundaries important?

Boundaries are important for husband and wife because as the impeccable Ms. Keri Hilson sang “there’s a limit to my love.” Or in other words, if you don’t respect my boundaries then there is a good chance that this partnership will not last long.

If you want your marriage to last you have to create boundaries in certain areas of your life. Let’s start with the “family boundary”.

The Family Boundary

Believe it or not, one of the first places that you need to establish boundaries is with family relationships. Now that you are married you have joint families.

Combining families can bring huge differences of opinions, and it can often be difficult to sift through the noise. Early in my marriage, 90% of the arguments in my marriage were about our families.

We later quickly discovered that this was because we had not established strong boundaries in this area of our marriage.

Boundary Number 1: Have Your Spouses Back At All Costs

There is nothing more important than having your spouse’s back in the midst of a family disagreement. You may not agree with your partner’s outlook 100%, but you better have their back in the moment.

This may sound contradictory, but this is necessary. You never want to make your spouse feel like they are left out on the dead branches of your family tree to fend for themselves.

If you do disagree with your spouse at the moment, make sure that you are the one standing in the way of your family ganging up on your partner.

What you can do is shut down the disagreement especially if it is getting heated. Remove you and your spouse from the situation before things escalate. 

Once you are alone with your spouse, then you can explain where you think your family was coming from. On the contrary, if you felt that your partner was in the wrong, then you can discuss that too. Just make sure it is done in a gentle way.

I guarantee your spouse would rather you tell them in private than feel like their partner is going against them.

Boundary Number 2: Your spouse and your children are your immediate concern.

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Family members can often forget that you have your own family that you are responsible for now. With that being said, they can sometimes be demanding of your time, resources, and attention.

My husband and I had to learn how to say no to things. We stopped trying to appease everyone and started doing what was best for us and our family. 

I’m not going to lie, there can be a sense of guilt when telling family members no. Sometimes you simply feel that you just don’t want to let someone else down, but this is no way to live.

You will not be able to make every event, loan money every time, or offer your resources and time all the time!

The more we started doing what was best for our family (as in me, my husband, and our two kids), the happier and less resentful we were. 

Boundary Number 3: Always talk to your spouse first, before going to family.

This was a huge problem in my marriage early on. My husband was raised by very hands-on parents who helped their children make all major life decisions. 

I, on the other hand, was raised very differently. My mother raised me to be very independent and to make decisions on my own. I rarely remember going to my mom and asking her what to do in major situations. 

There are positives to each parenting style, but when you put the two adults together that were raised this way it can be a recipe for disaster!

It used to drive me crazy how my husband would want advice from his parents about decisions we needed to make. At first, I looked at it as a sign of distrust.

I felt like he didn’t trust me enough to make the decision with me. It took me a while to understand that this was simply just how he was raised and that he just wanted to make sure that we both made the best decision possible.

The boundary we agreed upon is that we needed to talk first. If we both decided that we were unsure about what to do, then I would agree that we would reach out to our parents for advice. 

This cut back on A LOT of our arguments. I felt that he was still putting our marriage first by discussing it with me. However, his way taught me the value of asking for help about things from others with more life experience. 

Going to our parents for certain things has saved us time, money, and headaches. Depending on each other for things has also shown my husband how to go with his gut, and built better trust between the two of us.

Boundary Number 4: Keep your arguments private, unless you both agree on sharing.

Another important boundary to set with your family is keeping your arguments between you and your spouse. This is one of the things my husband and I both learned quickly in our marriage.

We understood that when telling our family our personal arguments, it could have devastating effects. I don’t care what anyone says, your family is going to be partial to you and not your spouse.

Therefore it is important to realize that if you do agree to share an argument or disagreement with your family, make sure that it is not a major disagreement. 

Also never share a disagreement without your partner there to say their side of the argument.

Keep it light. For example, you may want to share something small like a disagreement about who should clean the dishes after dinner, not something serious like intimacy issues. 

My husband and I have talked about things like parenting differences, with our family and honestly, it has given us some major insight into why we both parent differently. However, there are some topics that we both know are a no, no to bring up in front of our parents.

Boundary Number 5: Protect Your Peace At All Costs

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You may have different relationships with each one of your family members. You may get along with some, not get along with others, and there may be a few that you have “roller coaster” types of relationships with.

Family drama can easily trickle into your marriage and bring unwanted and unnecessary stress. One things that you and your spouse must do is protect your peace. If you see that a family situation is causing you and your spouse to start to stress then it may be necessary to walk away from that situation momentarily.

You may be the person in your family that everyone runs to when they need advice or financial help. This is a heavy burden for anyone to carry. Sometimes it may be necessary to just not answer the phone especially if you know the person only calls when something is wrong.

If you need to block an argumentative family member from Facebook, or other social media then do what you have to do. This does not have to be permanent, but if it is too much to handle then you may need to walk away from it for a while.

Final Thoughts

Like I said before family boundaries are necessary in a marriage. At the end of the day, the one laying their head on the pillow next to you is your ultimate concern. Making sure that you keep your spouse at the forefront of your marriage is a must. 

Talk with your spouse and start setting those boundaries. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will set you free! Trust me.

Genesis 2:24: This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

If you enjoyed this post or would like to add your personal thoughts please comment below.

Check out my last blog post on “5 Ways Your Life Changes After Marriage” .

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