How I Learned About Boundaries


It wasn't until I was 34 years old that I started to understand the true meaning of boundaries and how they exist in a relationship. My husband and I attended couples counseling, something that I suggest every person consider, during a time of tough marital challenges. I sometimes hear of people disliking their therapist, but ours was good – accepting, observant, knowledgable. But in the beginning, she had a favorite little saying, which honestly made me want to sassy walk out of there every time I heard it. Her mantra? “You have your yard and your husband has is. They're next to each other, but they are separate yards.”

Some of you might read this and think, “Well duh!” But would you believe me if I told you it took me a good six months to truly understand this!?

My struggle was endless. “What if he has weeds in his yard? You know weeds spread, right? Then we both get weeds!” Or, “Whose paying for the yard care? Doesn't that make a difference in who owns it?” Or “I don't have time to be in my yard! I'm a mom with two little ones and a husband!”

I'm a little embarrassed at how confusing this was for me, but over time, and by working to remove our own emotionally codependent ways, it not only felt right, it felt good.

So what are boundaries? As Brene Brown says, boundaries are simply the things that are okay and the things that aren’t okay. On a personal level, it’s my own understanding of self care and refusing to feel guilty when I make it a priority. It’s honoring my value of creativity and growing a business, but also honoring my desire to help my kids with homework and put them to bed every night. It also meant allowing my husband to experience his own negative emotions and he letting me experience mine. That was a difficult one to deal with! I did not like seeing my husband unhappy. There was a time when I refused to ever believe he could make me unhappy because that would mean facing anger. And boy, I did not do anger (that'll be a post for another time.) If either one of us were in a distressing situation that was out of our control, we learned to remove the stress and pressure of trying to “fix it,” and instead just simply be there for one another. (Ultimately, there is no real “fixing it” anyway.)

(It’s important to point out here that in some relationships, the other person may fight you on your boundaries. In some cases, they may even threaten to leave. In these situations, you have to ask yourself how much are you willing to tolerate and is it worth it.)

Alright! I'm done talking about me, so the next post will cover more of how coaching can be of benefit in a situation like this (or if therapy might be the more appropriate route.)

Until then, remember the following by Roy Bennett: Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.

(The Bodem Coaching Diary is a collection of personal and educational stories. My hope is to inspire other moms out there to be proud of their story as they journey through motherhood. We should never feel ashamed of the beautiful things we get to learn in life and it is a honor to be able to share them with you.)

Jennifer StambolskyComment