Before my husband and I were married we had a long talk about the boundaries that surround our relationships with other people. Actually, being honest, we had a long talk about one boundary. I’m actually not too big on setting boundaries on other people or limiting what another person can or cannot do. I don’t tell my husband who he can or cannot have as a friend nor does he put any boundaries surrounding my friendships. People are not property and, as in any marriage, there is a strong element of trust that must exists for the marriage to be healthy and collaborative.
The one boundary we did set for one another is that the intimate details of our marriage are not shared with family or friends.
Now, when I say intimate I am not referring to only sex. I mean all of the private details of our lives and our union. A few of the topics that are considered off-limits for discussion with family and friends are:
- Our sex life and sexual preferences.
- Any arguments or fights that we have with one another (note: not that this should need to be said but just in case…I want to clarify that I’m not talking about any situation that a person may find themselves where there is a risk of abuse or harm. If you are in a situation that is dangerous or threatening then please, get out and seek help immediately.).
- Any financial (spending vs savings) disagreements.
- Relationship woes or doubts.
We set this boundary because we recognize that human nature tends to lean toward sharing the negatives with our family and friends but internalizing the small every day positives.
For example: People have the tendency to share with friends that they had a huge fight on Friday night that resulted in a broken lamp but withhold that the rest of the weekend was quiet and loving, consisting entirely of staying cuddled up in our pajamas binge-watching Netflix and eating pizza.
We, as a society, tend to be very unaware of how much negativity we share on a daily basis. We don’t recognize how often we complain. How many times today have you complained about:
- Being tired?
- Being hungry?
- Being too cold? Too hot?
- Does your back ache? What about your feet? Your head?
- Is it too loud where you are? Too quiet?
- Was that other driver really rude? Did someone cut you off? Is traffic bad or the roads congested?
- Did the barista make your coffee incorrectly and it’s a bit too bitter? Maybe you didn’t make it to the coffee shop at all because of that darn traffic!
- Did you forget to pay a bill and the company won’t waive the late fee?
- Are you annoyed that you’re facing a creative block with your blog, business, or career?
- Did your co-worker re-heat fish for lunch and now the office smells like the Atlantic Ocean?
It’s ok…it’s human nature. It can also be really bad for your relationship.
If you’re always sharing the negatives about your marriage with your family and your friends, how do you think your family and friends will come to view your partner? You could actually be training them to view your spouse in a negative light. If you’re always sharing the disagreements, the fights, the annoyances, the frustrations, and the irritants with those close to you then you’re going to be painting a negative frustrating picture of your partner.
Who wants that?
Yes, your spouse is going to frustrate and annoy yes. Yes, you are going to have arguments and fights (and yes, some of them may get ugly). Yes, there are likely even going to be times that you’ll question if you made the right decision. Those are also all things that should be discussed with your spouse and kept between the two of you.
Now…it’s also important for me to acknowledge…
I know that you may still confide in your family and/or friends.
You should set your own boundaries in your relationship and they may not be the same as ours (and that’s ok). The most important thing is to acknowledge that your spouse deserves to have a level of privacy maintained. Before you decide it’s acceptable to share the details of your relationship with others I encourage you to talk to your partner about what is, and is not, acceptable to share.
I share a lot about our lives and our marriage here on the blog but even here there are boundaries (and my husband is involved in setting them).
Just remember that what you confide to others defines their perception of your beloved partner and spouse.