Who vacuums the floor? How often should the floors be cleaned? How about the laundry? What about the kids – who’s gonna pick them up? Who’s turn to do the dishes? You have to handle the money, ‘cause I don’t want to! Well, then you have to clean the cat box! Don’t even get me started about being late to everything…
I imagine at least one of those complaints sounds familiar to your relationship. We are humans and we all do things differently, but why is it that the way your partner chooses to: do, say, think or feel can be so incredibly…. WRONG!
Thank God people are humans and so darn opinionated. If not, I might not a job.
Speaking of my job, I am often tasked to help couples figure out how to navigate the troubled waters of expectations and the inevitable disappointments that come with having those expectations. What I’m going to tell you here is one of the pathways, we here at the Relationship Practice Academy try to help couples understand. You may have heard about these before; maybe you even think you understand the idea, but then, when you really think about it, you realize… maybe you don’t quite get it. Here it is:
Yep. We’ve all heard about them before and yet we either don’t truly understand them or we don’t really know how to enact them. Sometimes we think it means have clear cut rules. Sometimes we think it means no body can mess with us. Maybe for you it feels like people who have boundaries are cold and impersonal. All those situations can be true, and those aren’t great examples of healthy functional boundaries.
Why are Boundaries Such a Big Deal?
The beginnings of relationship are filled with that wonderful bonding experience of feeling like you’ve meet someone that truly gets you. Days are full of long conversations, nights filled with passion. We relish in the joy of giving and receiving love. We finally found our One True Love.
Okay, I may have over done it there; I’ll admit. However, the all too familiar story then happens. We become disenchanted when those feelings aren’t sustainable. When conversations not only don’t last a day, we’re lucky if we get ten minutes of time together. And, nights full of passion, come on – I gotta work in the morning, turn off the light please.
When the person we thought was fully a part of us stops behaving the way they use to – we feel we’ve been tricked. The real trick is that we didn’t marry a lair, we married a human.
Here’s where a healthy functional boundary comes into play. There is a place where I end and my partner begins; just as there is place my partner ends and I begin. There’s my part. There’s my spouses’ part. Learning to know the difference is the work of the conscious lover. How do I tell my partner my needs in a way they can hear them? What do I do when they are stuck in their own needs that hearing seems practically impossible? How do I assertively tell my partner things I can’t tolerate? And, how do I respect the things they can’t tolerate?
Pia Mellody, in her book The Intimacy Factor, writes: “When you have a functional boundary, you protect and contain yourself while remaining vulnerable enough for intimacy but not to vulnerable that you can be easily damaged.”
Where are your boundaries? Do you know how to be connected and protected? Do you know how to be vulnerable but not too vulnerable?
This is the difficult and absolutely necessary work of boundary making. We would love to hear from you which boundary you struggle with in your relationship. Please feel free to comment on here on the blog, visit our Facebook Page (@relationshippractice) or our YouTube Channel. We want to have these conversations everywhere!