Don’t Wait ‘til the Wedding! Build these Boundaries Around Your Relationship Now

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You’ve sent out those “save the date” notes. Planning your wedding can be fun but time-consuming. Planning your marriage, however, is far more important. Be sure to spend some  "save the relationship" time together.

 You and your spouse are officially becoming a team. It’s the perfect time to start building some boundaries around your relationship.  Pre-marital counseling can facilitate that process for you.

Don’t Take “Stuff” for Granted

Some aspects of marriage may feel like “stuff,” e.g., things you can deal with when the time comes. Pro tip: Do not leave anything to chance. This begins by not taking any relationship stuff for granted. Profound and enduring connections don’t just happen. They are the product of a shared commitment to each other and to putting in the work to be successful.

Every couple needs space to learn and grow and evolve - both as a couple and as individuals. This space is made possible by building healthy boundaries.

6 Boundaries to Build Around Your Relationship Now

1. Communication/Conversation

The lines of communication between you must always remain open—unblocked by outside influences. When you meet, a conversation begins. The task from there is to keep that discussion going and flowing in a healthy way. There will be plenty of factors trying to drown you out.

From the very beginning, build a ritual of connection by designating time each day to give each other your full attention.  Talk about what's going on in your lives and how you're feeling. This time can be much more beneficial than a steady barrage of texts throughout the day, which leads into the next boundary.

2. Devices   

Don’t be that couple. Don’t be the ones who “prefer” texting over talking. Our tech culture has changed so much—too much—about relationships. A big part of this involves our unwillingness to stay present. Our devices take us away from the moment and thus, away from our partner.

When you attempt to manage conflict though text messages or e-mails, you can't convey voice inflection or facial expressions.  This often leads to even more misunderstanding.

Place boundaries on the use of devices in these two ways:  (1) overuse for communication with each other, and (2) distracting yourself from being present with your partner when you're together.

3. Sexual Intimacy

This boundary involves quieting the noise society makes in the area of sexual intimacy. From clickbait self-help articles to the unchecked spread of Internet porn, we are bombarded with negative messages about sex.

How a couple views, expresses and enjoys intimacy is a personal choice. We cannot allow negative outside factors to influence our perception.

Boundaries in this area should focus on both partners feeling understood, respected, and safe in sexual intimacy. If you are experiencing problems in this area, don't make the mistake of thinking that marriage will make everything better.  It won't.  Use pre-marital sessions to safely talk about your concerns before the wedding.

4. Family

Get out the shovels. This boundary may require the digging of some trenches. It will also require diligence. Families have agendas. Their hearts may be in the right place but is it the right place for you and your significant other?

Talk openly and honestly about how your families differ and what their expectations might be of you when you're a married couple.  Ideally, you both have supportive and loving families who will recognize that you are forming a new unit of your own and will respect your boundaries.   

Think about questions, such as:

  • How much time do you want to spend visiting your families?
  • How will you spend holidays and vacations?  On your own or with one of your families? 
  • How will you make each family feel equally special in your lives?
  • Are there any members of either family who will require especially strong boundaries?

Stay connected and strong as a couple, while also being flexible as new situations arise.

5. Financial

Whether we like it or not, money is a major component of everyday life. Money is also a top reason some couples end up in divorce. You will face pressure and expectations from society at large, well-meaning family and friends.  

Transparency about finances is essential when two people unit.  Be truthful when you talk about debt, obligations, etc.  Decide in advance how you will handle your household and personal finances  

Try to avoid the mistake of assuming that it will all just work itself out after the wedding.  it might, but it probably won't.

Financial issues may seep in slowly and turn into major concerns if not addressed soon enough.

6. Individual Pursuits

This may be the most important and foundational of relationship boundaries. We are part of a couple but we are, first and foremost, individuals. We need our private time and space.  Two healthy individuals make a healthy couple.

Each partner must feel comfortable having some outside interests and friends that are not always a couple thing. Communicate regularly and encourage each other’s personal development and independence.  

It’s Never Too Early for Pre-marital Counseling  

In many people’s minds, couple counseling evokes images of a relationship on the rocks. Of course, plenty of couples seek help during times of strife. But there is another popular side of therapy for two. It’s never too early to address topics that could become problematic in the future.

Even in those heady, early relationship days, we all know that some questions and doubts arise. There is no benefit to leaving anything to chance.  Pre-marital counseling is a proven method for effectively managing the pull of distraction and distance later.