I am not for the life of me a morning person. I’ve tried setting the clock early to bounce out of bed. I’ve faked it by pretending I am awake and fully coherent, ready to tackle the word, I’ve read books and listened to podcasts telling me how highly effective people get the majority of their work done during the early morning hours and how they made it a habit to wake up early… However, I have failed at my attempts, every time, and miserably! I came to accept the fact that this is just me.
On the other hand, Daniel my husband is up every morning between the ridiculous hours of 5:30-6 am ready to get to work. When I am up by 7:30-8:00 he has already had a few hours of grounding, preparation, and work done.
As soon as his eyes locked into my sleepy eyes, he would start telling me a long list of to do things…. Can you do X, Y & Z today? Will you? Would you go to ____? And on and on. My mind would spin uncontrollably, and I wanted to throw everything in my reach at the wall.
It took years until I finally realized what I needed to do! So, one day before he would start his list, I said, honey, may I have a few words with you?
“Yes,” he said.
“I love that you are such a morning person, I love that you are so eager to start your day with such zest and passion. I admire that in you. Me, however, need my coffee and a ½ hour before I can turn my mind’s light back to on after I wake up. Would it be ok to give me a ½ hour after I wake up to settle, ground and get ready for the day? You can text or email me what needs to be done if we miss each other in the morning. Can you do that for me?
“Sure,” he replied.
And that was the end of that saga! BANG…SIMPLE. SIGH OF RELIEF.
For your sanity, and for your relationship, YOU NEED TO SET BOUNDARIES.
We often think of boundaries as something negative, something that will stop spontaneity. Many believe that setting boundaries mean that they don’t have loving feelings towards their partner, on the contrary, having boundaries is just the opposite.
So what are boundaries? Simply put, it is “the line that I end, and someone else begins”. Think of it as boundaries between states or countries; it’s those boundaries that tell us who owns this space, and which rules apply here. Without knowing the rules and regulations of each state and or country, it becomes confusing and chaotic to know what to do and what is allowed here and what it’s not.
When boundaries are healthy and clearly defined, you don’t need to have electric fences or high walls to protect yourself. It is when boundaries are vague and continuously being violated that we build resentment and angry emotional walls around us. Some people are so hurt that their emotional fence can electrocute you if you try to cross it. Everyone has a threshold or a limit, a point at which, when crossed it will have unpleasant consequences for all.
In a stable relationship with healthy boundaries, partners ask permission; they take their partners feeling seriously, they show gratitude and accept their partner’s model of the world. They respect their partner’s perspectives and differences.
In less healthy relationships with vague or no boundaries in place, partners “assume” that their partner should feel the same as they do, and should have the same desires and wants as them. This includes the physical, emotional and sexual space of the partner. They become enmeshed with their partner and cease to see her/him as a separate identity.
Steps in setting healthy boundaries:
- Know what you want- It is very imperative to know WHAT YOU WANT. We often tend to focus on what it is that we don’t want; however, knowing what you like and dislike, what you are comfortable with and what you are not, how you like to be treated in any given situation is the first key to setting healthy boundaries.
- Communicate- How you communicate your needs with your partner is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your communication that can result in your partner’s accepting or rejecting your ideas. Be loving, compassionate and speak from a place of confidence. If you are angry or upset, it is best to step back; wait until a time when you can speak calmly and effectively. When you are able to communicate honestly and comfortably about your needs, fears, and desires, trust is built, and the bond between you is strengthened.
- Be specific and assertive- The more specific and detailed you are about what it is that you want, the better. Use “I” statements. When you start your sentence with “I”, it redirects the attention from your partner and feels less defensive. “I” statements allow you to own your feelings responsibly. Example: “I feel…”, “I would appreciate if…” “I would rather do…”
- Give a feedback sandwich- Instead of telling your partner what is not working; give him/her what you desire in a sandwich! Start by giving a compliment, then add what you want to be changed, finally finish it up with another positive closing. Example: “Honey, I love that you cooked dinner tonight, would it be alright if we soak the pots before we eat? I can’t wait to taste your delicious cooking.”
Boundaries that don’t work:
- Refrain from using absolute words- Boundaries that fail are those that have words like: never, you should, and always… Example: You should always put the toilet seat down.” These words are unrealistic to use because they don’t last.
- Manipulative language- If you have a double standard or choose poor boundaries, you will alienate your partner. Boundaries should be set in a way that is a win-win for both parties. Example: “If you don’t put the toilet seat down, I won’t have sex with you!”
- Vague language – Be specific in your language, your partner is not a mind reader. Example: “Can you pick up some groceries?” An effective way of rephrasing this would be: “Can you please pick up 2%milk, organic eggs, multigrain bread, and Swiss cheese from X store before coming home tonight?”
Boundaries are a stepping-stone for a happy and healthy relationship. They are what give you and your partner freedom of being exactly who you are without feeling jeopardized or threaten. When couples are clear about their needs, wants, goals, and expectations, and what is okay and what is off limit, the relationship can thrive and soar to new supportive and nourishing levels.
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote sums up what a healthy, stable relationship looks like. Two individuals that support each other in their unique journeys rather than becoming tangled and enmeshed with each other’s neediness and demands.
Action plan for this week:
Identify where in your life you lack boundaries. Then, implement healthy boundaries and notice how your circumstance shifts.
I encourage and welcome your input and would love to hear about your shifts!