7 Relationship Rules that Save Marriages
Boundaries in Relationships
Boundaries are important in any relationship but they play a vital role in our intimate relationships. This is because we become so immersed in being joined with our partner that we sometimes have a hard time knowing where we end and they begin. When we are so involved we can easily be hurt, or angered by actions that were never meant to bother us. I find having written boundaries is a great way to avoid many issues. It lets both partners know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, lets you plan how to react to issues and even opens the door to better communication. If you’ve never written out your boundaries I suggest you giving it a try. Boundaries and Relationship Rules have a lot in common, but with boundaries they are usually one side saying if you cross this line I will no longer feel safe/loved/respected. Relationship Rules are more guidelines you come up with together to help you both function together.
Relationship Rules Explained
Relationship Rules for couples that already have issues can really help to resolve many things. This conversation needs to be done respectfully and with open honesty. To get the most out of the relationship rules both parties need to feel comfortable to at least let the other know what would make them feel loved and safe. There is no better way to let each other know what you are okay with or not. Unlike Boundaries, Relationship Rules do not always have to be action and consequence based. They can also be expectations of general behavior that allows your relationship to flourish. This gives them much more flexibility and make it to where there are less need for strict boundaries in place as long as both parties follow the rules. This information can be used when healing from betrayal trauma and as a general beginning list that you and your partner talk about.
I will say, some of these sound like they are directed towards one partner over the other, but that is no really true. I just want to point out that in these situations they are especially helpful or important but everyone can benefit from these.
7 Suggested Rules
- No sexual energy spent outside of the relationship: This is not just in a physical way but in any way. There is no sexual energy spent outside of the two of you. This means that you both have to be ready to wait until you are both feeling safe and comfortable. Especially after the traumatic stress of betrayal, there will be a time where this needs to be talked about and agreed upon. Sexual behavior may be triggering for the partner of a sexually addicted person. This may be long term or short, depending on how you work through this and how much of a priority you make recovery.
- Be home by dinner to show respect for the one taking the time to make the meal: Men and women want to feel respected, showing that you understand that making dinner took time and effort that could have been focused in other areas is important. Yes all married couples need to feel respected, but it is especially important now.
- Be where you say you’ll be: This is not only a respect issue but also showing transparency which as the relationship is recovering from something, is needed to move forward.
- Lies do not belong in relationships: There is no reason to outright lie to your partner. If you wouldn’t do it in front of them, that is a good indication that you shouldn’t be doing it. If it is something you know they wouldn’t like, try putting yourself into their shoes, think about how it would make you feel. If it isn’t a positive emotion that comes up, it probably isn’t something you should be doing.
- Money is not as important as the relationship: So many couples fight over money and it can lead to a complete break down of their relationship. If you are having money issues try to work at it from a partner angle and not an advisory angle. If you are both in the relationship for the long haul, you are both trying to do the best you know how to make things work.
- Show gratitude: Any time the other person does ANYTHING you appreciate, SAY it. We get so used to our partner that we sometimes forget they don’t automatically know we appreciate things. We need to say it out loud so they can hear it and know what they are doing matters. It not only makes them feel good but it will reinforce the action you like. If you both get into a habit of always saying thank you, you will begin to appreciate each other more than you probably ever have because you will both try to do things to make the other person happy and you will focus on the nice things they did.
- Make your partner your priority: There is no one else you are planning on spending your entire life with. You will be with this person for a long time, show them they are important and loved. As you try to make them a priority they will do the same. I have seen it in some of the most hopeless cases, being made a priority made all the difference. Especially in a relationship recovering from betrayal trauma, you will need to feel like a priority in general but especially during beginning recovery.
Now I know this list may seem basic for some people or may seem like it is far fetched to others, and that is exactly why we need to communicate about these types of things in our primary relationship. We are all different, with different expectations, feelings and beliefs. If we don’t open up to each other and talk about what we need and want in a relationship we may end up hurting over something the other person didn’t even understand was a problem.
In many relationships I see that are recovering from infidelity of an online sort, (which I absolutely believe is cheating but which many people have been conditioned to believe isn’t) the offending partner may not have even known what they were doing would be considered as cheating. This can make a hard situation even harder. If the conversation was never had and they feel differently, there can be significant misunderstandings. And because they didn’t see it as cheating they continued to do it until they understood their partners point of view. In some cases this is really a communication issue above all, not ever intended as anything else.
In cases where after the person knows it hurts their partner and they continue to do it, there are other issues underlying the problem, be it porn addiction, sex addiction or not having respect for your partner. Either way there needs to be changes made and work towards becoming a better partner.
If your partner doesn’t care about your feelings on such an important matter, and you continue on the same as always, you may need to look into deeper matters also. It is never the fault of the victim, but you are your only advocate. You will need to stand up for yourself or find a better way to move forward. I do not advocate for divorce but I do advocate for healthy relationships, however that looks for you.
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