28 Apr

If you’re stuck in a cycle of conflict with your spouse, feeling resentment over a recurring issue between you, or the two of you keep running into issues with a friend or family member, then it’s a good idea to consider some boundaries for your marriage together. 

When you decide to have this conversation with your spouse, you want the conversation to be productive and to help move your marriage forward, not leave either of you frustrated or hurt. Here are 5 basic tips to help you approach this well together 

1. Don’t have the conversation when you are angry. 

Elevated emotions aren’t helpful for solving problems. Boundaries should not be reactionary or punitive. If you’re communicating about them when you’re heated, you’re more likely to say things you don’t mean and can’t take back. This doesn’t help solve the problem, and is likely to create a new one. Ask God for self-control and humility, and wait until you are calm to address the issue. 

2. Don’t spring the conversation on your spouse. 

Let your spouse know that you’d like to talk with them about something that is important to you. Agree ahead of time on a time and place where you both can focus, free from distractions. 

3. Don’t complain or lecture. Do use the “encouragement sandwich.” 

Make sure you communicate that this isn’t the end of the world and things are generally good, but there is something that you’d like to see change. Affirm something good in your spouse or marriage relationship, or something you two are doing well together. Then let your spouse know the specific area where you are struggling and would like to make a change. 

For example, “I love how we’ve been getting good quality time together lately, and I’m enjoying that time with you. But I also feel I need some alone time each week. I think that will help me be at my best. When can we make that happen?” 

Or, “I do enjoy our family dinners at your parents’ house, but going every Sunday is starting to feel burdensome. I would like to have a free Sunday night at home with you sometimes. Are you willing to talk to them about us coming less often?” 

4. Use team language. 

This isn’t a declaration of “here’s what you need to do.” It’s not about a right vs wrong way. It’s a collaboration and the two of you need to work as a team. The way to make this a win for your marriage is to invite your spouse to work together on the problem. Invite their feedback. Ask if they have questions for you, or if they have ideas how you can make this happen. Don’t get defensive if they have questions or even push back, rather help them to process where you are coming from. Keep to the issue at hand. If either of you gets heated, agree to take a time out, then reconvene after you both have had a chance to cool off. 

5. If the conversation is not well received, you can still decide on how you respond. 

Boundaries take some trial and error. Most couples are not going to nail this on the first try. So if it doesn’t go great, that’s ok. It’s normal! Take a breath, be patient, and remember that anything new takes practice. Use this conversation as a stepping stone. 

If your spouse doesn’t agree to what you’re asking for, remember that you can’t control your spouse. And I bet that’s not what you actually want for your marriage. But you do need to be able to address things and work on them together. 

If your spouse doesn’t get where you’re coming from with this, it is a great idea to seek help from a christian marriage counselor. A third party who is for the health of your marriage can see things objectively and help you work this out together. 

A Final Word Of Encouragement: 

Finally, if things are really rough right now, and you feel stuck, like nothing is working, keep in mind that things won’t get better without making some intentional changes. Simply communicating with positive intent can help that begin to happen. Talk like a team (“we” not “me”) then work as a team to grow together. Commit to one change you will make together, and see how that impacts your marriage. 

We pray you’ll find more peace moving forward as you apply these steps and healthy boundaries. 

This article was reposted and used with permission from our good friends at Awesome Marriage.

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