It’s the dream: you find that one person you can truly love who loves you in return. You merge your lives and have an eye on the big happily ever after. One of the most important aspects of achieving this is maintaining a healthy relationship where each partner is supported, and their needs met. Experts have been looking for the formula of a successful relationship for as long as people have fallen in love. When you’re in love, how do you keep from getting lost in someone else or sacrificing your well-being for your partner’s? Sometimes we need to set boundaries to make things work smoothly.
Set and Respect Boundaries
It might seem like walls between you and your partner would lead to distance and a barrier to a happy, cohesive life. Boundaries can be the very opposite, though; they can set up guidelines to help partners care for each other and keep each other safe and comfortable. Boundaries are essential in reducing conflict and ensuring that both partners create space to have their values respected and adhered to. No matter how in love a couple is, if one partner values a clean kitchen and the other doesn’t see a big deal in letting dirty dishes sit around for a few days, there’s going to be friction.
An effective boundary can be very simple or emotionally loaded. The important thing is to know yourself and what you require to feel safe, secure and loved. For example, a simple boundary might involve housework. A more emotionally charged boundary can have something to do with previous trauma. While the former involves picking up wet towels, the latter might include being aware of psychological triggers and how to keep them out of the relationship.
The key to a good boundary is in compromise. Anywhere in a relationship that values clash, compromise is the thing that makes it all work. In the dishes scenario, it might not be manageable to instruct both partners to clean all dishes immediately. It might be better to give the messier partner a roomy timetable — all dishes done by bedtime. The important thing is to have that boundary in a place that’s comfortable for both parties.
Sometimes being in a relationship is like being on an airplane when cabin pressure is failing. You have to put on your oxygen mask before you can help anyone else. In a healthy relationship, your health and well-being are absolutely vital.
Keep an eye on your stress. External stress, like work, can affect your home life and the way you communicate with your significant other. If you have stressors in your life, make sure you’re dedicating the time and effort required to manage your stress levels — relax and unwind.
Managing your stress includes managing your body as well. It’s easy to forget to eat properly or to get a full night’s sleep. This is especially important if you regularly share a bed with your partner, and they have poor sleeping habits like snoring, hogging the blankets or falling asleep with the TV on. Make sure you talk through and address your partner’s habits so you can both get a good night of rest.
Kep an Eye Out for Warning Signs
Sometimes you can try to do all the right things, and everything goes poorly. Not every relationship is the happily ever after you hope it will be. If things seem odd, or you feel uneasy, look out for the warning signs that something is wrong on a fundamental level. Are you able to talk about the tough stuff without shouting? Do you feel frequently criticized or put down? Are you constantly in the position of rescuing your partner’s poor self-esteem?
While it’s important to try to work through issues, some issues might be unresolvable. It’s important to know when a problem is unfixable, and when it might be better to free the two of you from a dysfunctional relationship. If your partner displays signs of narcissism, it’s better to separate before you suffer from lasting psychological damage, like narcissism victim syndrome. If your values conflict with each other’s to an unresolvable level, you might want to find someone whose lifestyle is more cooperative with your own. A partner who habitually cheats or shows signs of sexual addiction can put your emotional well-being at risk as well as your health. It can be difficult to walk away from someone you love, but a relationship that puts your well-being at risk is not healthy, or worth staying in.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.