Being in a serious relationship is not just getting to know each other really well, like revealing the name of your childhood pet or what you hated about college. It’s about connecting on a deep personal level, aligning your life goals, and driving your partner, helping them to chase their hopes and fight their fears. Sadly, not every couple achieves these things.
Recently, a woman told her story to the subreddit “Am I a [Jerk]?”, asking its members if she overreacted when her husband brought home a meal that his female coworker had made for him. However, almost everyone who read the anonymous confession thought that it was actually her spouse who was being inconsiderate.
One thing’s for sure, though. This marital conflict, as unpleasant as it is for the folks involved, is a perfect reminder that you must never stop communicating with your significant other.
This woman thought she was going to surprise her husband by cooking him a nice dinner
But the man came home with a meal that his female coworker had prepared for him
April Eldemire, LMFT, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than 15 years of experience helping couples improve their sense of friendship and lessen conflict, believes that all healthy relationships have healthy boundaries.
“Boundaries aren’t restricting or limiting. They provide the freedom to express your needs and values while also honoring the needs and values of your partner,” she wrote in Psychology Today.
According to Eldemire, setting boundaries is:
The essential antidote to codependency;
A prerequisite for emotional well-being;
A learnable skill that determines the success and longevity of any relationship;
Setting healthy boundaries can transform your relationship and elevate your own self-respect.
We all have different limits, small and big. They serve as an outward expression of our core values and beliefs and reflect what we need to feel safe, respected, and loved.
Eldemire said that successfully married couples often establish boundaries in the following areas:
In-laws and family (e.g., how often we visit the in-laws, how much personal details they should know about the marriage);
Personal privacy (e.g., agreeing not to go through each other’s phones, not being forced to share details about the past);
Communication (e.g., zero tolerance for shouting or name-calling);
Autonomy (e.g., the freedom to make your own decisions, work toward goals, or maintain friendships outside the marriage);
Physical space (e.g., zero tolerance for violence, agreements about sex including when, where, and how);
Money (e.g., not hiding money or debt from each other);
Home life (e.g., expectations on shared parenting, household chores, quality time spent together);
Relationship rules (e.g., the expectation of loyalty and fidelity, trust and respect).
Judging from this list, the author of the story and her husband have failed to touch on multiple subjects. The therapist believes that those couples who wish to stay together have at least four ways to set and respect each other’s boundaries.
Use clear communication. “Spend time identifying what is important to you in your relationship and your life,” Eldemire advised. “What [do you refuse to compromise on] and what are you willing to be more flexible about? Once you’ve identified your specific boundaries, use clear language when discussing them with your partner.”
This means using phrases like, “I am not OK with raised voices during conflict.”
Next, set clear consequences. “Once you and your partner have discussed your boundaries—the ‘musts’ and ‘must nots’ your relationship needs to be successful—the next step is to be clear about what the consequences are if and when boundaries aren’t respected,” Eldemire explained.
Let’s take the before-mentioned example and imagine that you and your spouse agree that you will not raise your voices during conflict. A possible consequence of yelling during an argument could be pausing it and taking a 30-minute break.
“It is imperative that you follow through on the consequences of any boundary violation,” Eldemire highlighted. “Not following through shows your partner that you don’t respect your own boundaries—and if you don’t respect your boundaries, why should they?”
This brings us to number three. Take responsibility. “Everything you do and say has a natural consequence, whether positive or negative,” the therapist said. “For example, if you’re frequently critical of your spouse, they probably won’t want to be intimate with you. But if you speak kindly and refrain from yelling during an argument, they’re more likely to feel secure and desire physical intimacy and connection.”
The same principle applies to honoring your partner’s boundaries. “Realize that what you say and do (or don’t do) affects your partner. Understand that you may slip up along the way, especially if you and your partner are new to setting healthy boundaries. Take responsibility when you make a mistake, offer genuine apologies, and always circle back to clear, respectful communication.”
And lastly, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Setting boundaries is hard, so why not consult with a therapist or another professional if you and your spouse wish to maintain your marriage? “It can be extremely beneficial, especially if you are creating ‘big’ boundaries around issues like alcoholism, infidelity, or child-rearing,” Eldemire.
So maybe not everything is lost for the woman who shared this story. I guess it depends on whether she and her husband still believe in each other.
After reading the story, people said they think there’s more to it than just food
Source & credit: boredpanda.com