Your Relationship Boundaries
By Gabriella Kortsch
Having healthy boundaries means that an individual has established visibly defined limits to the types of behavior by others (partners, children, colleagues, friends, etc.), which he/she considers permissible, and to clearly indicate the kinds of consequences that will befall the perpetrator, should those boundaries be ignored or violated.
So what does that mean? It means you place a value on yourself. It means you honor yourself. It means you hold yourself in such high esteem, that you would “do” this for yourself.
Having established a boundary, a consequence merely says, “If you do not respect this boundary that I have established, then this will happen.” Boundaries need not be harsh or resemble an ultimatum, but they might have to, depending on the circumstances, as these examples indicate:
- To a spouse if both work: If you do not do the marketing, I will not have time to cook dinner and we will have to eat sandwiches (this should only apply if you like sandwiches and the other person does not…because consequences are not meant to cause you problems or difficulties, only the other person…see the next example in this sense as well)
- To an older teenage son or daughter: When you smoke marijuana in this house, you place us at legal risk and it is a fire hazard, so if you do it again, you will not be allowed to use the car for one month, but since I will not be able to drive you around, you will have to walk or use public transportation. If after that time you use marijuana again, it may happen we will need to consider whether you may continue to live in this house .
- To a person you are dating: When you phone me at the last minute without having previously made plans with me, expecting me to drop everything in order to see you, it makes me feel as though I have no importance in your eyes, so if you do it again, I will not be available to see you.
- • From one woman to another: When you dump me two hours before a dinner date with me in order to go on a date with a man who has just given you a last-minute call, you make me feel as though you do not value our friendship, so if you do that again, I will have to re-think our relationship
- To a chronically late employee: When you arrive late, you make the entire production line lose time, so if you continue to do it, I will begin to dock your pay by half hour increments. If it is then repeated, you will lose your job.
- To a partner who lies: When you lie to me, I feel as though you place no importance on my feelings, so if you do that again, I will want a trial separation from you.
- To an emotionally abusive partner: When you do such-and-such, it is very hurtful to me, so if you behave like that again, I will have to remove myself from this relationship
Basic Tenets of Boundaries
Don’t forget the basic tenet of establishing boundaries: if consequences are not set up, then there is no boundary. However, you might want to explain your feelings to the other person first, as in these examples, in order that he/she understands what the specific behavior does to you, your family, your health, your safety, your business, etc.
Do Unto Others…
Setting boundaries is one of the first steps to psychological health because by doing this, you are clearly telling yourself that you are loved (by yourself), that you are worth it, and that you will not allow others to do unto you, as you would (hopefully) not do unto them…
Dr. Kortsch holds a doctorate in psychology and dedicates herself to integral coaching, clinical hypnotherapy, relationship coaching, and energy techniques. She is an author and professional speaker and broadcasts a live weekly radio show in English that is available on the Internet or for listening on her website, and has appeared in numerous television programs in English and Spanish. She can help you move towards greater personal and relationship success with her integral approach to life and offers training and workshops in the field of self-development and choosing responsibility for the self.