1. Use Clear Communication
Spend time identifying what is important to you in your relationship and your life. What “hill are you willing to die on” and what are you willing to be more flexible? Once you’ve identified your specific boundaries, use clear language when discussing them with your partner:
Sit down with your partner to discuss your values, express your needs, and agree upon boundaries that will uphold these needs. Make sure these are boundaries you are both prepared to respect and honor.article continues after advertisement
2. Set Clear Consequences
Once you and your partner have discussed your boundaries—the “musts” and “must not’s” your relationship needs to be successful—the next step is to be clear about what the consequences are if and when boundaries aren’t respected.
It is imperative that you follow through on the consequences of any boundary violation. Not following through shows your partner that you don’t respect your own boundaries—and if you don’t respect your boundaries, why should they?
3. Take Responsibility
Remember: everything you do and say has a natural consequence whether it’s positive or negative. For example, if you’re frequently critical of your spouse, they probably won’t want to be intimate with you. But if you speak kindly and refrain from yelling during an argument, they’re more likely to feel secure and desire physical intimacy and connection.
This same concept applies to honoring your partner’s boundaries. Realize that what you say and do (or not) affects your partner. Understand that you may slip up along the way, especially if you and your partner are new to setting healthy boundaries. Take responsibility when you make a mistake, offer genuine apologies, and always circle back to clear, respectful communication.
4. Seek Professional Help
Let’s face it, setting boundaries is hard! Consulting with a licensed marriage and family therapist or another professional can be extremely beneficial, especially if you are creating “big” boundaries around issues like alcoholism, infidelity, or child-rearing.