Healthy Boundaries in Marriage

Healthy Boundaries in Marriage

Healthy Boundaries In Marriage Are A GOOD Thing

They’re in every part of our life…including marriage ~ they help us understand how to stay safe and healthy in the relationship every day.

Personal Boundaries Guidelines Look at them as safe rules or limits where two behave and respond appropriately towards each other. Individuals with clear boundaries have a better sense of identity and understanding of their self worth. Boundaries support and enhance the other person and are vital for a united front of clear boundaries… spoken and unspoken.

Intentionally protect and nurture your marriage. Healthy boundaries strengthen your bond and builds on a solid foundation of trust. Establishing clear boundaries are great guardrails to safeguard your marriage.


Address problems directly with your spouse – nothing good comes from involving friends or family. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a “safe” person to talk to about your marriage; just be careful HOW you talk, WHO you talk to, and WHAT you say, especially family members. It’s hard for flesh and blood to forget negative things shared in anger. Parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts don’t need to know the details of your disagreements. Marriage is hard enough without extended family drama, so don’t add to the problem.


Protect the other’s reputation. Never allow family, friends, or anyone to criticize your spouse. Kindly put to a stop, “Please don’t talk about my husband/wife that way.” Simple as that. Protect with your words and actions, your spouse will appreciate knowing you have their back. 


You have no business keeping secrets from your partner. Keeping secrets limit intimacy and build walls. Don’t put barricades – stay within the boundary lines: no SECRET money, friends, texts, emails, letters, jobs, purchases, phone calls, social media exchanges, social accounts, health issues, trips, outings, lunches, dinners, etc.. KNOW and BE KNOWN fully by one another.


Every couple disagrees at some point, even argue.  It’s better to talk through a disagreement than to hold it inside and let it fester. However it’s NEVER okay to speak in nasty tones, harsh language, or scream at each other. This is verbal abuse, and words DO hurt. There’s no license to tongue-lash your spouse! It’s hard to forget hateful things once said. You promised to love your spouse through the good and bad. Lashing at each other is not loving. Do your best to disagree as lovingly and as possible.


Obvious, but this boundary has been crossed way too many times. NEVER slap, hit, grab, push, or pull in a physical harmful way. It’s NEVER okay, it’s physical abuse. A husband and wife should only exchange loving physical touch.  Stay within boundary lines and be blessed!


  • Out-of-control patterns disguise a need for something else. Address the underlying issue and you deal with out-of-control behavior. 
  • Addressing your real need is no guarantee your out-of-control behavior will disappear. A boundary problem often keeps recurring. Continue to practice: embrace failure instead of trying to avoid it.
  • As you fail in boundaries on yourself, you need others who’ll let you know about it in a caring way. Many times, you’re unaware of your own failures and may not truly understand the damage your lack causes in the life of those you care about. Other believers can provide perspective and support.
  • Consequences is a teacher. The lesson of sowing and reaping teach us about loss when we aren’t responsible. The impulsive over-eater has medical and social difficulties. The over-spender faces bankruptcy court. The chronically late person misses plane flights and important meetings, and loses friendships. The procrastinator faces losses of promotions and bonuses. And on and on.
  • Developing better self-boundaries is an process. Confront the destruction of your behavior. Words precede actions and give us a chance to turn from destructiveness before we have to suffer.
  • Surround yourself with people who are loving and supportive. As you hear feedback and suffer consequences, maintain close contact with your support network. Your difficulties are too much to bear alone. You need others who will be loving and supportive, and not rescue.


When two people marry, two lives blur together to a new one. Expectations and feelings can become an issue if a spouse automatically expects the marriage to mean their spouse will always see things their way. They may feel unloved when the otherwise-loving mate says, “No, I’d rather not take a walk. I’m sleepy.” This happens during the “honeymoon period,” when both parties see eye-to-eye on everything. But when the reality of two different wills, needs, and perspectives comes in, the honeymoon is over. Now the Law of Respect must be applied.

Once you apply the Law of Respect, please don’t storm into the living room with a list of “how things are going to change around here.” Sit and talk about the boundaries you both want respected. Let each other know what you value and desire to be free to say, even if you don’t like the answer. Ask some of the following questions:

  • How might I be crossing your boundaries?
  • Do you feel I respect your right to say no to me?
  • Do I give you guilt messages, withdraw, or attack you when you set a limit?
  • Will you let me know the next time I don’t respect your freedom?

These humbling and uncomfortable questions show your concern for your spouse. They come out of self-sacrifice, and they show your generosity of spirit and love. They will bind your marriage. 

BOUNDARY RESISTANT PEOPLE refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing and will not accept correction or feedback. The basic attitude is this: “I should be able to do whatever I want to do in life.” Boundaries dictate that you cannot do what you want all of the time.

When confronting one who violates boundaries, remember that ignorance is the cause. Your spouse may be crossing boundaries without knowing it. Approach the issue from this perspective first. If your spouse accepts the feedback and repents, the conflict will already be on the road to resolution. But if your spouse resists, consider these steps:

  • Gather a circle of friends you can draw emotional support from during conflict with your spouse.
  • Make sure you’re right with God and growing closer to Him.
  • Identify the specific source of conflict. What boundary is being violated? How does it affect you and your love for each other? 
  • Demonstrate his/her feelings are important to you, you want to understand his/her point of view, and accept truth.
  • Love your spouse. Communicate your goal to a loving relationship being hindered by the crossing of boundaries.
  • Earn the right to ask your spouse to change by admitting how you’re contributing to the problem. 
  • Make clear and specific requests for change. Be patient and give him/her time to change.
  • If your spouse persists in violating boundaries, establish reality-based consequences to eliminate any benefit they receive by crossing them.
  • Consequences are designed to protect you and preserve your spouse’s freedom. Consequences should encourage change, be appropriate but not humiliating. Warn your spouse before setting limits and consequences.
  • Follow through. If you don’t, you’re just nagging, an ineffective substitute for real boundaries.
  • Observe and evaluate over time, making changes in boundaries or consequences as necessary.

When people grow in character, they grow in ability to set and receive boundaries.

In their marriages, they mature. When they resist hearing the word no, they remain immature. Many people believe as we humans grow up physically, we automatically grow up emotionally as well, but that’s simply not true. There are immature old people, and there are appropriately mature young people. 

Norma Bourque Niles