Mastering Marriage Boundaries: How to Set and Respect Them

Empower your marriage with our in-depth guide to mastering marriage boundaries. Are you ready to strengthen your bond? This list of healthy boundaries in marriage will take your marriage goals to the next level.

marriage boundaries: healthy marriage boundaries

What are marriage boundaries?

Marriage boundaries are limits that you set for yourself and your spouse. You both have a clear understanding of where you draw the line on a variety of topics, such as privacy, intimacy, and space.

Why boundaries are important in relationships (and ESPECIALLY in marriage)

You need to communicate your needs. You can’t expect your spouse to know exactly what is going on in your mind.

Do you need a few minutes to decompress when you get home from work? Tell your spouse! If you don’t, your spouse probably won’t give you that space you need.

There are already so many miscommunications and arguments that can happen throughout a marriage. Don’t let this be one of them. Speak up so you both know what you need from each other.

Should marriage have boundaries?

All relationships have boundaries, whether you explicitly talk about them or not. For example, do you text friends at 3 a.m.? Probably not. You have an unspoken boundary that you let each other sleep in the middle of the night.

It’s the same with marriage. Only more so. You and your spouse live together. You spend A LOT of time together. Having boundaries in place can help keep the peace and even prevent future conflict.

On a side note, you’ll see from the list below that a lot of boundaries focus on the self. It’s ok to have individual boundaries in your marriage. In fact, personal growth can be a good thing in your marriage. Growing individually can help strengthen your marriage for the better.

what are marriage boundaries?

What happens when we don’t set boundaries in marriage?

Let’s take the example I mentioned above. When you get home from work, you’d like to have 5-10 minutes to decompress. That’s a fair boundary.

But if you’ve never told your spouse about this boundary, they might “bombard” you with questions, updates, and to-do lists right when you get home.

This will probably make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. Maybe your day was already stressful. This could all then cause you to lash out at your spouse.

Your spouse will be left wondering what they did wrong.

When I first became a stay at home mom, Josh and I learned quickly that he needed to establish this particular boundary. I had spent all day with a baby and couldn’t wait to talk to another adult, especially my husband!

Josh politely talked to me about his boundary for space when he got home from work. Once he explained it to me, it made complete sense.

And it was easy to give it to him because I wanted to take care of him. We avoided a probable conflict just by communicating a simple boundary.

Setting boundaries in marriage

Now that we’ve established the importance of marriage boundaries, how do you set them? Follow this step-by-step guide to help you establish healthy marriage boundaries with your spouse.

How to set marriage boundaries

Step 1: Talk to your spouse

To start off, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Talk about marriage boundaries in general. Why are they important in your marriage? How could you use them to resolve or prevent conflict? Could they help you better take care of each other?

This is a great way to start off a marriage boundaries conversation. You both get to voice your opinions on the matter in general and can get comfortable with the idea.

Step 2: Figure out what specific boundaries are important to each of you

This will take some reflection. You each need to understand yourself so that you can better communicate your needs to your spouse. You could even rank them so you both know what boundaries are the most important.

Step 3: Discuss your boundaries

The next step is to talk to your spouse about what boundaries you’d like to have.

Even better, make a date out of it! Sit down with a glass of wine and a nice meal. This will make things more romantic and relaxed.

It might just help you make this conversation easier!

a couple with healthy marriage boundaries

Step 4: Respect your spouse’s boundaries

Don’t get offended by the boundaries your spouse needs. Respect that your spouse has thought through each boundary. There’s a clear reason and a need for each.

If you feel hurt by a particular boundary, ask your spouse to give more detail. Why is this boundary so important to them? It could help clear up any misconceptions that might have lead to your hurt feelings.

Step 5: Have marriage check ins

Have a weekly or monthly check in with each other. Use this as an opportunity to talk about your boundaries. Do any of them need to change? Have you been respecting each other’s boundaries?

Common challenges and solutions

Here are some common challenges you might face when trying to implement marriage boundaries. I’ll offer some solutions to help get you started.

1. Resistance

If your spouse resists the boundaries you are trying to set, you need to get to the root of the problem.

Why is your spouse so resistant? Does it have to do with a boundary of their own? Was your spouse hurt by something similar in the past? Put yourself in their shoes and try to figure out what’s going on.

Talk to your spouse about how a particular boundary makes you feel. Why is it important to you?

Make sure your spouse knows that they are welcome to come up with a few boundaries themselves. Tell them that you are trying to have a healthy conversation and grow in your marriage.

2. Fear of conflict

You can’t live your life in fear. But wanting to avoid conflict in your marriage is a common occurrence.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself of the importance of having boundaries. All relationships have them, whether we explicitly name them or not.

Don’t overwhelm your spouse. Start small and introduce one boundary at a time.

Related post: Husbands Who Travel for Work: How to Connect with Your Wives

3. Discomfort with voicing your needs

It can be hard to speak up for yourself and tell your spouse what you need. But this is a healthy practice to have in a marriage. You have to voice your needs so your partner can be there for you.

Again, start small. Take some time to yourself to think about one small boundary that is important to you. Go to your spouse with that need.

boundaries in marriage summary

Marriage boundaries list: What are examples of healthy boundaries in marriage?

The list below is very extensive. It by no means implies that you should have every single boundary in your marriage. My hope is that this post will help you decide which boundaries are the most important to you and your spouse.

There’s a good chance you already have some of these boundaries in place and you didn’t even know it!

Privacy boundaries in marriage

In marriage, you share a lot with each other. Your spouse is the person who you have the least amount of privacy with. But it’s also important to understand what level of privacy your spouse needs and wants.

Here are some privacy boundaries in marriage that might want to use:

  • We do not use each other’s phones
  • We give each other privacy in the bathroom/shower
  • We keep past relationships in the past
  • We keep journals private
  • We do not use each other’s social media accounts.

Privacy in marriage does not equal secrecy. It’s ok to keep some things private. But it’s not ok to keep secrets from your spouse.

marriage boundaries with family

Marriage boundaries with family

When you marry your spouse, you also marry into a whole other family. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to extended family. A lot of problems can arise in a marriage if you don’t set boundaries with family.

Here are some examples of marriage boundaries with family:

  • We respect each other in front of extended family
  • We stand up for each other
  • Issues with extended family do not affect our marriage. If they begin to, we talk them through and work on it
  • We respect each other’s level of privacy with extended family
  • We respect each other’s wishes to see (or not see) extended family
  • We discuss family visits with each other before scheduling them

Marriage boundaries with friends

Just because you are married doesn’t mean you can’t have friends. In fact, it’s healthy to have friends outside of your marriage. However, you might want to consider setting some boundaries.

Here are some marriage boundaries with friends that you can use:

  • We do not complain about each other to our friends
  • We do not share intimate details about our marriage to our friends
  • We do not prioritize seeing friends over spending time with each other
  • We do not spend time alone with friends of the opposite sex

Christian marriage boundaries list: What are godly boundaries in marriage?

Godly boundaries in marriage are limits that you set with your spouse that have a Christian theme. They are usually derived from Scripture. Here is a Christian marriage boundaries list:

  • We are faithful to each other
  • We lift up each other’s spirituality and do not attempt to put ourselves before God
  • We do not spend time alone with the opposite sex

Conflict resolution boundaries

In conflict resolution, you need to tread lightly. It’s important to know what your spouse cares about during conflict resolution. Here are some examples of boundaries that you might want to incorporate when resolving an issue with your spouse:

  • We do not bring up past issues to make each other feel bad
  • We do not hold grudges
  • We give each other space to calm down
  • We forgive each other

For more conflict resolution tips, make sure you read this post. It covers everything you need to know about resolving conflict with your spouse.

a reason for healthy marriage boundaries

Boundaries about the past

We all have baggage from our past. There might be some things that we don’t want to talk about on a day to day basis. Here are some boundaries about the past that you might find helpful:

  • We do not bring up painful memories unless prompted
  • We do not hold grudges about the past. Once we forgive, we do our best to let it go
  • We do not let our baggage interfere with our marriage

Parenting Boundaries

Parenting can quickly become a source of conflict in a marriage if you aren’t on the same page. Here are some parenting boundaries that will help you understand how to not step out of bounds:

  • We do not undermine each other in front of the kids
  • If we argue in front of the kids, we also let the kids see a healthy resolution
  • We show our kids that we appreciate each other
  • We do not talk badly about each other to our kids
  • We respect each other’s parenting ideas

Have you been fighting with your spouse about parenting? Then you’ll definitely want to read this blog post. If you are really struggling to parent with your husband, then read this one.

Boardaries about personal time

Josh and I love to spend time together. But since having kids, we have also come to appreciate and enjoy personal time. It helps us unwind and get through all of the craziness. Here are some personal time boundaries you might want to consider (we use all of these!):

  • We speak up when we feel the need to have personal time
  • We respect each other’s personal times and do not intrude on them
  • We do not make each other feel bad about needing personal time
  • We step up and take care of each other by recognizing when the other needs personal time to destress

Money boundaries

How do you and your spouse handle finances in your marriage? Here are some examples of money boundaries that could help your marriage:

  • We talk to each other before making purchases over ____ amount
  • We recognize that there are needs and wants. We prioritize our family’s needs but also allow ourselves to have some wants
  • We have a budget and stick to it
how to set marriage boundaries

Boundaries about physical space

Are there certain areas of the house that are yours? Does your spouse like to have a drawer dedicated to their things in the bathroom? It can be healthy to have some personal space boundaries in your marriage. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • We do not use each other’s physical space
  • We have our own drawers in the bathroom
  • We have our own sections in the closet
  • We each have a nightstand dedicated to our things

Boundaries about emotional space

Now that we’ve covered physical space, what about emotional space? How does your spouse deal with their emotions? Some people like to sit in silence and think before talking it through with their spouse. If this is the case, don’t try to get your spouse to open up to you too soon. They have an emotional boundary that you need to respect.

Here are some ideas for emotional space boundaries:

  • We give each other time to process emotions before talking about a problem/issue
  • We acknowledge that we process emotions differently and respect each other’s process
  • We do not rush each other when one of us is having some emotional space

Related Post: 60 Awesome Date Night at Home Ideas for Married Couples


This one is similar to the physical space boundaries but gets a little more detailed. Are there certain possessions that you’d rather no one touch? Don’t assume your spouse knows about it! Communicate this boundary. Here are some examples of boundaries about possessions:

  • We communicate what possessions are “off limits”
  • We respect each other’s possessions that are “off limits” by leaving them alone
  • We respect each other’s possessions in general by treating them with care

Intimacy boundaries

Whether you’re talking about physical or emotional intimacy, you need to make your boundaries clear to your spouse. Here are some ideas:

  • We are open about what level of intimacy we are comfortable with at the moment
  • We are vulnerable with each other
  • We confide in each other
marriage boundaries with family

Social media boundaries

How much do you and your spouse post online? Do either of you have clear boundaries about what gets posted? This conversation has become even more important now that our lives are all over social media.

Here are some boundaries you might want to consider talking about:

  • We check with each other before posting on social media
  • We check with each other before posting on social media about the kids
  • We have certain topics we are comfortable with and do not need to check with each other
  • We check in with each other about certain topics before posting on social media
  • We are comfortable friending each other’s family members

Communication boundaries

What matters most to you when it comes to communication? Do you want to have times when phones are put away? Do you appreciate it when your spouse looks you in the eyes when you talk?

Take some time to think about what communication boundaries could help you feel valued in your marriage. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • We do not use our phones at meals
  • When talking to each other, we set our phones down and give each other our full attention
  • We talk to each other in respectful tones
  • We always keep the lines of communication open
  • We make an effort to talk about more than just work and the kids

How to maintain healthy boundaries throughout your marriage

It’s important to check in with your spouse to see how things are going. How does your spouse feel about your boundaries? Do they find your boundaries to be unattainable or too rigid? The key to maintaining healthy boundaries is to have a constant conversation with your spouse.

Be honest about how the boundaries make you feel (both your own and your spouse’s).

You and your spouse are going to change throughout your marriage. It’s inevitable. Make sure you allow your boundaries to change with you.

Strong emotional intimacy in your marriage is important to maintain healthy boundaries throughout your marriage. If your marriage lacks emotional intimacy, you’ll want to address this. Make changes in your marriage so that you can both feel comfortable and vulnerable enough to voice your boundaries.

Do you already have good emotional intimacy with your spouse? Here are some ways to help you strengthen it!

privacy boundaries in marriage

How to maintain healthy boundaries during life transitions

Life changes. And not always for the best. Having boundaries provides a good solid foundation to help you through those difficult life transitions.

The most important key is to keep the lines of communication open. During life transitions, it can be easy to focus on yourself and forget about what your spouse needs. Talk to your spouse. Ask if their needs are being met. Ask if their boundaries are being respected.

Take some time to pause during life transitions. We don’t pause enough. It’s not in our culture.

But taking some time to pause when things are changing can help give you clarity. It can help you realize how you are truly feeling about a situation.

It’s also ok if you need your boundaries to change during life transitions. A good marriage adapts to the needs of each spouse. Work together to make sure you are not reaching your limits with regard to your boundaries. Or maybe you need some new ones.

Unhealthy marriage boundaries

Since we’re talking about boundaries in this post, it’s important to note that there is definitely the possibility that you may have some unhealthy marriage boundaries. Keep reading to find out how your boundaries compare.

What are unhealthy boundaries in marriage?

Here are some unhealthy boundaries in marriage that you’ll want to look out for:

  • No privacy
  • No emotional space
  • Disrespectful to each other (alone and in front of others)
  • No trust
  • A lack of confidence in each other
  • Controlling
  • A lack of communication

So what do you do about unhealthy boundaries in marriage? You need to sit down and have a conversation. Be open and honest about how these actions are making you feel.

What are some steps you can both take to make improvements?

The long term effects of unhealthy boundaries

If you have unhealthy boundaries in your marriage, you’ll want to address them. There are serious long term effects of having such a detriment to your relationship linger.

When you have unhealthy boundaries in marriage, you will begin to slowly drift away from your spouse. You may begin to resent them or pull away completely. There are many causes for divorce, but lingering unhealthy boundaries could definitely lead you down that path.

When boundaries are crossed in marriage

When boundaries are crossed in marriage, it can leave you feeling defeated and helpless. Speak up about how this made you feel.

Good communication is so important in a marriage. If you and your spouse have toxic communication problems, here are some great ways to help you fix it.

If a boundary has been crossed in your marriage, DO NOT retaliate by crossing one of your spouse’s boundaries.

Instead, try to see things from your spouse’s perspective. Why was the boundary crossed?

Was it too hard to follow? Could it be replaced by a different but similar boundary? Make sure you give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

Seeking Professional Help

Do you feel like your marriage needs to set some boundaries? Have you unsuccessfully tried to set marriage boundaries? There’s no shame in asking for help from a professional.

Reach out to a couples counselor so you can get advice that is tailored to your unique situation.

Related post: How to Appreciate Your Husband: 8 Simple and Effective Ways

Boundaries in marriage summary

Every marriage has boundaries, whether you realize it or not. Intentionally placing boundaries that are important to you can greatly benefit your relationship with your spouse.

Remember that you need to communicate your desired boundaries to your spouse. First, make sure your boundaries are healthy marriage boundaries. Then approach the subject to your spouse in a loving manner. Communicate what these boundaries mean to you.

It couldn’t hurt to do an assessment of your current boundaries and ensure none of them are unhealthy marriage boundaries.

As time passes, you’ll learn to work with each other’s boundaries and adapt to life changes.

Does your marriage have boundaries? Were there any in the post that you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments below!

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how to set marriage boundaries
healthy marriage boundaries

16 thoughts on “Mastering Marriage Boundaries: How to Set and Respect Them”

  1. This is an important topic when it comes to marriage. My husband and I got married in our 40’s and were kind of set in our ways. There were times we were both ready to call it quits. But after having serious and hard talks about needs and boundaries, we were able to come through it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so glad you and your husband were able to have some really important discussions. It’s always helpful for other readers to see that others have gotten through tough times and been able to learn from them!

  2. Great tips! My partner and I really had to work on boundaries during COVID and it was so helpful. Thank you for sharing these hands-on recs–I totally agree with the importance of putting your phones away during meals and when talking.

    1. I’m so glad you liked this post! I’m sure a lot of couples had to revisit their boundaries during COVID. The phones boundary is one we personally use. It helps to show that we matter to each other and we care about what the other person has to say. Thank you for reading!

  3. I definitely want to get better about putting our phones completely away at meal times! Granted meal times at our house are usually chaotic anyway. We aim to have dinner at the table together as a family each night, distraction free. We will get there!

    Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I’m so glad you liked the post! And yes, some of these definitely take some work. As long as you are both striving to do your best with each other’s boundaries, you are taking awesome steps to strengthening your marriage. Thank so you much for reading!

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