Setting boundaries is an important relationship skill. Good boundaries protect relationships. Many people find it difficult to ask for what they want. They go through life giving to and pleasing their partner, hoping that some day their partner will return the favor. Resentment and frustration can build until the pendulum swings too far and those who for years have been bending over backwards to please others, suddenly become obnoxiously insistent that things go their way for a change. Finding the balance between being too passive and too aggressive can be a challenge.
The following 4 tips can help you achieve an assertive balance when setting your boundaries.
1. Know Yourself In order to be assertive, you first need to know your values, preferences, and limits. It is important to recognize the difference between your principles and values, and your preferences. Once you are clear on who you are and what is really important to you, it becomes easier to share this with your partner.
2. Set Boundaries Share your expectation with your partner. When setting boundaries, be honest, direct and specific. Try to create boundaries based on your values and principles, rather than preferences. Cleanliness is a value; the color of the towels in the bathroom is a preference. Try to remain open and flexible about preference; and firm and consistent about values. The more we stay true to our values the better we feel in our life. Persistence is key when setting boundaries. It becomes easier with practice and it is freeing to be open about your needs and desires.
3. Open Your Mouth Your partner cannot read your mind. If you want your needs to be met, the best way to help that happen is to open your mouth. You can start small by expressing your preferences for shows to watch, places to eat, and things to do for fun. It can be easier to start by talking about how you felt about things that happened in the past and what you would have preferred and work up to expressing how you feel about what is happening as it is happening.
4. Be The Example Of What You Want Respecting your partner’s boundaries sets an excellent example for your partner. If he wants you to call if you are going to be home late, then call. If she wants you to keep the clutter off the bedroom dresser, then do so. The small choices we make every day, speak volumes to our partner. You can also check in with your partner to see if what you are expecting and asking seems like a reasonable request to them. Your partner may be more willing to respect your boundaries if they feel respected in return.
If you have clearly set your boundaries, you are being respectful and consistent in setting or maintaining your boundaries and your partner still refuses to respect you and your boundaries, it may be time to consider seeking professional help.