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Published on January 3, 2020

Why Boundaries in Marriage Are Good for Your Relationship

Why Boundaries in Marriage Are Good for Your Relationship

If you’re wondering why marriage is so hard, you are not alone. It’s true that all couples go through difficulties in their marriages. Yes, you read that right. Marriage is definitely an undertaking for adults who are mature enough to handle the relationship dynamics.

Theoretically, a marriage is about two people sharing everything with each other; however, realistically, statistics show that when boundaries in marriage are absent, the marriage probably won’t last.

1. Emotional Boundaries Strengthen the Emotional Connection in a Marriage

Emotional connection is the most important pillar in a marriage because it is the foundation of a genuine relationship. But what is emotional connection?

Well, emotional connection refers to authentic love experienced in a marriage, for example you actually appreciate each other; have many shared experiences in life; and you try your best not to hurt each other’s feelings.

Contrary to popular belief, the best way to strengthen the emotional connection in a marriage is not experiencing all life has to offer with each other. The fact is that emotional boundaries are essential in every sustainable marriage. Let me explain.

Let’s say you love your spouse so much that you are together 24/7 and you never give each other any space. This marriage will eventually have a suffocating effect on either or both partners which will lead to arguments.

Now I’d like you to imagine this: Both you and your spouse are invited to a party. You took time to go to the gym first, because that fulfills you as a person. When you arrive at the party, your spouse is already there and you see them working the room, interacting with many different people and obviously having fun. At this moment, as you notice your spouse’s charisma from a distance, it makes you realize how charming he/she is.

Then when you join your spouse, you feel more attracted to them, right? And they feel attracted to you because you’re feeling pumped and happy from exercising and looking after your body.

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This is a typical example of a couple setting emotional boundaries in a marriage. You give each other some space which gives you both an opportunity to observe how wonderful your spouse is from a distance. As a result, you get to appreciate each other even more. Emotional boundaries such as this will strengthen the emotional connection in your marriage.

World-class entrepreneur Lisa Bilyeu started multiple businesses with her husband, so they’ve had lots of shared experiences. Nonetheless, when Lisa Bilyeu decided to start her own podcast (The Sheroic Podcast), she didn’t ask her husband to be involved in it. Instead, she asked her friend Cassey Ho to be her co-host. Whenever her husband went to see her in the studio, he saw a different side of Lisa.

“I can see that Lisa is such a multi-dimensional woman, and I felt even more attracted to her when I saw her photo shoot for her podcast,” says her husband, “I’m so proud of my wife.”

2. Physical Boundaries Improve the Quality of Intimacy in a Marriage

While having your own interests is paramount in maintaining and building attraction in your relationship, many marriages fail due to miscommunication and intimacy problems in the bedroom.

Sexual intimacy isn’t something that most couples discuss prior to marriage and this can cause problems when a couple’s sexual preferences are mismatched.

There are no hard and fast rules here (pardon the pun) other than it’s important not to get your sex education from porn which can result in unrealistic expectations and a lack of true intimacy.

Hence, setting physical boundaries around intimacy can be paramount in your marriage. But what does that mean?

Setting physical boundaries in marriage means you communicate to your partner what you like and what you don’t like, so your partner doesn’t have to go through a process of elimination or feel frustrated that they seem unable to fulfill you.

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It’s also important to resolve any functional intimacy issues as they will otherwise contaminate a happy marriage. These common challenges are often the result of focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time which results in your brain being confused as to what you want.

Therefore, you may consider consulting a professional sex therapist if you are keen to find out the best approach for your marriage in this regard. After all, intimacy is the second pillar in a marriage.

3. Financial Boundaries Are the Cornerstone of an Invincible Marriage

To be fair, nobody’s marriage is 100% invincible because love is relatively vulnerable in front of human nature.[1]

That being said, according to my observation, the most invincible marriages all share something in common: they have clear financial boundaries.

How can we set financial boundaries in marriage?

First, couples who have a lot of wealth may consider getting a prenup or a post-nup agreement. I know this doesn’t sound like the most romantic thing in the world. However, money is the third pillar of a relationship and when you sign a prenup or a post-nup, you know that no matter what happens, you will remain financially stable.

Although it’s important to note that these agreements can become an excuse to not try harder to work things out when you have disagreements, which may lead to your marriage breaking up.

If you already have healthy emotional and physical boundaries in place, then you are well on your way to improving your overall intimate connection.

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Healthy financial boundaries in your marriage may look more like the following:

You and your spouse have a shared bank account which takes care of all shared expenditure in the household (e.g. housing, bills, etc.) and you also have some shared savings/investments.

Then you and your spouse have personal bank accounts – you don’t share your passwords with each other. You use your personal bank account to do things you want to do, no matter if it’s investing or buying designer shoes – this is totally up to you.

Meanwhile, your spouse uses their personal bank account to do things they want to do. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’ve had honest discussions to set financial boundaries in marriage beforehand.

This method is liberating because it gives you the right amount of freedom you need in a marriage.

4. Boundaries in Marriage Help You Stress Less

The most stress and anxiety come from trying to control what is outside of your control. For example, trying to control your partner makes you become stressed and anxious and also alienates your partner.

In other words, a marriage without boundaries leads to controlling behaviors which cause stress and anxiety for all concerned. Thus, you need to understand what’s under your control and what’s outside your control in your marriage. All of your actions are under your control – or they should be.

While you cannot control your spouse’s behavior, you most certainly can influence it. The best way to influence your spouse is to be the best version of yourself. This naturally encourages your partner to match your effort.

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Obviously, having boundaries in your marriage and being in charge of your emotional reactions will help you reduce anxiety and enjoy a more fulfilling connection.

5. Boundaries in Marriage Facilitate Professional Growth

Spending all day every day with your spouse may not expand your outlook and probably won’t help you with your career unless you have a shared business, direction and purpose.

According to Keith Ferrazzi, the majority of career opportunities come from weak links, i.e. acquaintances rather than your spouse/family members/friends. That’s because you and your inner circle are very likely to share the same resources and information – if your spouse/family/friends can help you with your career, they must have done it already.[2]

In contrast, you and your weak links share very different resources and information, so your weak links are much more likely to help you with your career.

So, if you are looking to have more professional growth, you will benefit from building relationships with your weak links instead of spending all of your time with your spouse.

6. Boundaries in Marriage Add More Fun to Your Life

When you allow some space in your marriage, you can stay flirtatious and continually increase attraction between you and your spouse forever. Never stop seducing your spouse and you can both enjoy the fun that comes with creating a great marriage!

The art of seduction is a journey rather than a destination. Keep creating fun moments along your journey!

7. Boundaries in Marriage Give You Opportunities to Grow Together

Because you’ve set boundaries in marriage, you actually both have more flexibility which allows you to adjust according to different situations in life. As a result, you and your spouse will be well-calibrated and can grow together in harmony in the long run.

Final Thoughts

All couples go through difficulties in their marriages, however, by creating the right boundaries in your marriage you will ensure happiness and wellbeing.

More Marriage Advice

Featured photo credit: Kyle Bearden via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Robert Greene: The Laws of Human Nature
[2] Keith Ferrazzi: Never Eat Alone

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Jacqui Olliver

Psychosexual Relationship Specialist

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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