Setting Boundaries in Marriage: What Does that Look Like?

What does setting healthy boundaries in marriage look like? We’re often good at getting mad or resentfully accommodating, but usually not so good at setting healthy boundaries.


That is a topic I’ve never really addressed on the blog because in all honesty I don’t really know how to think about them.

Oh I know how to lay down my desires to get what I want, but I’ve never really had a firm grasp on what setting healthy boundaries looks like exactly.

That is, until I’ve spent a lot of time researching it for my upcoming book about mixed-faith marriages (sign up here if you are interested in that).  I’ve thought A TON about this topic recently.

Some people I’ve interviewed for my book are in a situation where they legitimately need to set down some boundaries in their marriage.

And its hard.

Because our knee-jerk reactions in these tough situations are generally either to get really mad or to withdraw.

Setting boundaries in marriage? How do you do that? What does that feel like? Click through to read more.

Now, it should be said that perhaps I don’t understand about boundaries because I’ve never been in a serious situation where I’ve needed to set some.

The credit there all goes to Rich.  Realizing that gosh, Rich really doesn’t make demands of me filled me right up with love and appreciation for him.

But some people do make demands of their spouse.  Some people make a lot of demands.

We aren’t in control of how demanding our spouse is, but we are in control of how we react.  Do we get upset?  Resentful?  Vengeful?  Do we withdraw? Do we let them have their way but disconnect emotionally?

Brene Brown (bless that woman!) says when you are faced with a demand that violates your personal integrity (which is when a boundary needs to be set), you don’t puff up and you don’t shrink.  You stand your sacred ground.

Brene defines boundaries as knowing what is ok and what is not ok. When you are faced with something that is not ok, you don’t start fighting and yelling (although this is a natural reaction, it’s not helpful) and you don’t shrink (resentful accommodation).  You don’t become a doormat to accepting things that violate your personal integrity.

You stand your sacred ground and you do it with love.

If you are wondering (as I did) if you are in need of setting a boundary– ask yourself, “Would this boundary come from the best in me or the worst in me?  Who would benefit from this boundary- just me or both of us?”  A good boundary should actually benefit both parties, and should be coming from the best in you.

When asked this, it became clear to me that I’m not in a position where I need to set any boundaries in my marriage.  Sometimes I don’t get my way and I want to “put my foot down” (that would result in me getting my way), but that is coming from the worst in me, not the best in me.

For example, I would love to get rid of stuff Rich wants to keep, but I know that that is not coming from my personal integrity- it’s coming from wanting to get my way.  Keeping stuff around that Rich wants to keep does not violate my morals or harm me in any way other than bothering me.  So we’ll keep talking about it and compromising, but its not worth setting a line in the sand over.

Setting lines in the sand always comes with a consequence, and your friendship and connection is what will take a hit.

While I couldn’t find anything in my marriage that needs a boundary, I actually did find a few behaviors in my parenting that did. I think I have unintentionally become a bit of a doormat to my kids’ demands, which often causes me to be resentful towards them.

So I lovingly set some boundaries recently that would benefit BOTH me and my kids. And for maybe the first time, I didn’t create boundaries out of anger (I formerly didn’t know that could happen). I set them calmly and lovingly. And I’m happy to report, it’s been working wonderfully. I feel like I have more respect for myself and have been less resentful toward them.


So if you need to set some boundaries, don’t puff up, don’t shrink, just stand your sacred ground.

Spiritual Sunday: Is God Mad at Me?

Is God Mad at Me?

In our church we talk a lot about obedience. This is for good reason, but I think being so obedience-focused comes with certain risks. One of these risks is that we misunderstand the reason behind obedience. Not understanding the reason behind rules will make anyone resentful, annoyed and reluctant toward the rules. As any parent can tell you, if you order a child to do something (“Don’t touch that! Clean your room!”) without making sure the child understands the why, what you get is an annoyed, reluctant child. Or a child who only obeys to appease and avoid punishment. But… Read More

The Myth Behind Communication Issues in Marriage

The truth behind communication issues in marriage is that you need to work on yourself and your issues FIRST! Click through to read more.

When couples suffer from communication issues, communication usually isn’t the main issue.  The solution is far more difficult– to dig deep and become more emotionally mature people. This post contains affiliate links. Whenever people subscribe to my email list, a “thank you” email goes out to them and in that email I ask people to tell me something they are struggling with in their marriage right now.  Often, I get my post ideas from these emails.  Also, I’ve run several surveys through the years asking for people’s marriage struggles.  In these emails and replies, I’d say a solid 75% of… Read More

February Love Experiment Recap: Words of Affirmation

What would happen if you sent your partner a love note everyday for a month? Try an experiment and see! Click through to read more.

What happens if you send a loving note or text full of words of affirmation to your spouse everyday for a month? Good things friends. Good things. So we’re done with our February love experiment which to send a nice text, email or note to your spouse everyday.  This challenge was based on Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book, specifically the words of affirmation love language. Time for a re-cap! Confession- the first half of the month went WAY better than the second half.  For the first half of the month I was doing the 14 Days of Love Letters… Read More

40 Loving Texts to Send Right Now To Make Your Spouse’s Day

Loving texts to send your partner. Click through to read thinking about you texts, sappy texts, apology texts and humorous texts.

Sample loving texts to make your spouse smile, including thinking of you texts, sappy texts, intimate texts, apology texts and humorous texts. I’ve been trying to text something nice to my husband everyday this month since that is our love experiment of the month. And I gotta say . . . . its getting hard to come up with original material!  This has nothing to do with my husband’s boundless awesomeness and everything to do with my lame, directionless texting. So, just some advice before we dig into sample texts, I would say if you want to give your relationship… Read More