[image by globevisions]
One of the things that seems to be a common trend among couples I work with in therapy is that there is an assumption about the relational boundaries that each of them will/are keeping. There is an assumption, but rarely something they have ever actually discussed.
I think they are rarely discussed because: 1) there is a fear that when discussed they will realize they aren’t on the same page, therefore leading to conflict. 2) since they assume they are on the same page, they feel no need to talk about them.
So here are some examples of common assumptions.
We assume that our partner will never cheat on us…but we don’t talk about some healthy relational boundaries to help us from being in vulnerable positions.
We assume our partner won’t go to an intimate lunch alone with someone of the opposite sex…but we don’t actually talk about that boundary.
We assume our partner won’t be texting people of the opposite sex late into the night about personal things..but we don’t talk about that boundary.
We assume that our partner won’t befriend their ex on Facebook and strike up a renewed friendship…but we don’t talk about that boundary.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Fill in your own assumption here.
I give these examples because they are some of the most common ones I come across.
Though there are several areas of boundaries I mentioned, one of the reasons that I mention text messaging is because it is constantly being cited by partners as a source of marital conflict. And with the privacy of cell phones, and the ease of texting, couples are able to hide things from each other, or avoid any type of accountability.
So what are you waiting for? Start having some conversations with your partner about what you assume are relational boundaries you both share, but you have never ever talked about. And I promise you that it will be both eye opening and helpful in you relationship growth.
Lest you think I don’t practice what I preach, just last week I sat down with my wife over coffee and initiated a conversation about the women that I send text messages to on occasion, what is said, and the purpose of the text. Did I feel that my texts were out of line? No. Does my wife trust me? Yes. But I realized that maybe I had some assumptions about those boundaries around texting. I wanted to make sure we talked them over. That we both had the same boundaries. That there wasn’t/isn’t any inappropriateness, etc. That she was comfortable with who I was texting and why. And that simple conversation led to one great conversation after another, and to some great relational connecting time between us.
Boundaries vary for everyone. Some people would say you should “never” (with some exceptions) text someone of the opposite sex when married. Others disagree. But if you haven’t talked about it, how do you know where you both stand on that issue in your relationship?
If you are afraid to have these conversations with your partner, then I would say that’s all the more reason to have them. What are you hiding?