How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Marriage (Part 1)

Whether you’re newly married or you’ve been married for 15 years, boundaries can be an important part of a thriving, healthy relationship. Couples who understand how to implement appropriate boundaries in their marriage will find themselves feeling that sense of security and trustworthiness needed in a relationship at all times. Remember, the ultimate goal of boundaries is not to keep you apart from one-another, but to bring you together in safe and healthy ways.

Are you new to what boundaries are and how they can help your marriage? The following five points will give you a basic grasp of what they are and how to set them based on your marriage and what you’re currently going through:

 1. Know What Boundaries Are 

A boundary is a rule of sorts designed to protect you and keep you safe from another person’s potentially

harmful behavior. Boundaries are not set lightly or on a whim, but when you set a boundary thatis appropriate for the circumstances, you’re creating a safe

and permissible way for other people to behave towards you. You’re defining what is and isn’t okay for your personal wellbeing when it comes to people interacting with you.

In addition to dealing with physical associations with other people, boundaries also encompass the psychological, spiritual, and mental aspects of life that include your beliefs, emotions, intuitions, and self-esteem. In other words, a boundary isn’t limited to you and another person. You can set a boundary with yourself, whether it’s not allowing yourself to think negative things about your image or not letting yourself eat certain foods that will harm your health.

One aspect of setting boundaries that people often overlook is knowing how you will respond when someone steps past those boundaries. A boundary means nothing if there’s not some sort of repercussion when that boundary has been crossed. It’s also very important to understand that boundaries should be put in place to protect you and not to control or change your spouse. They should not be used as a form of punishment or revenge or a way to get back at your spouse for something. Boundaries are strictly for creating strength, peace, and safety for your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing.

  1. Set Them Based on Recurring Issues

 For the sake of the article, let’s focus on physical boundaries put in place between you and your spouse. If your spouse has a behavior that’s hurting you in any way, boundaries are a necessary step in restoring trust and safety. Here are some examples of hurtful behavior in marriage and any relationship:

  • Extremely controlling
  • Anger management problems
  • Sexual addictions
  • Alcoholism
  • Physical and emotional abuse

Before setting a boundary, you first need to address the problem. Acknowledging what the issue is will help you know what sort of boundary and consequence (if the boundary is broken) to set. The boundary should be related to what the offending action is. If your spouse has a sex addiction, a boundary could be not allowing alone time on the computer at night or while he’s home alone. An unrelated boundary would be not allowing him to eat dessert or his favorite food simply because it’s a sort of consequence. Keep in mind that while boundaries are meant to help and protect you, they can also help the offender see what he or she’s doing to hurt you, which is why boundaries are so important.

End or Part 1

Dealing with Pornography in Marriage (Part 2)

  1. Research the many resources out there.

 There are countless resources available online to help you find healing and hope. Here are just a few of many examples:

  • Fight the New Drug
  • Addiction Hope
  • Covenant Eyes
  • Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center

Please consult these and other resources. You don’t have to suffer through this alone and seeking out accurate research and information from qualified organizations will help you see that. The more you do to learn about pornography and sex addiction, the more you will see that his problem has nothing to do with you or your insecurities about yourself—it has everything to do with his own issues such as self-worth and confidence. You’ll also learn more about betrayal trauma and the symptoms that spouses of sex addicts experience when they’ve learned of this secret habit. You’ll learn how to recover from the trauma and what you can do to heal.

 Set boundaries.

 If you haven’t already, work with your partner to put effective filters on computers and phones. While this won’t keep him from seeking out pornography, it will still lessen his chances of seeing it and give you greater peace of mind. Think of other boundaries that will help you feel protected and safe. Remember that boundaries are meant to help you feel safer and help protect you from more betrayal trauma and not meant to punish or control your spouse.

Here are some examples of personal boundaries you can set that can help keep you from experiencing those trauma symptoms over and over:

  • I will not let myself think about what my spouse has viewed.
  • I will not have negative thoughts about my body.
  • I will not let myself go into panic/anxiety mode where I feel like I need to constantly check what my spouse is doing.

If you find yourself doing any of these things, set some rules. If you break a boundary, call a sponsor from your support group. Write in your journal five things you’re grateful for. Say a prayer or meditate. Read something inspirational. Go for a walk or play the piano. Do something to help you get back to a state of peace.

If you feel the need to reach out to a trusted friend or relative talk to your spouse first then proceed with caution.

 Working with a counselor can be an excellent and confidential outlet for the spouse of an addict. As previously discussed, a support group can be very helpful in talking about things in a confidential setting. While you may not want to tell anyone, talking to someone about what you’re going through is a good way to find a little relief and comfort. However, the potential for additional damage in discussing the issue with extended family or friends is significant. If done without the knowledge of your spouse, their sense of betrayal might be as great as what you’re feeling.

Plus, there’s the possibility that the friend or family member you’ve told will spread it to other people who will then spread it, and so on. Such discussions often lead to the creation of opposing sides, with husband and wife collecting allies, which can lead to worsening the situation.

That’s why it’s so important to not only ask your spouse about their feelings regarding you reaching out to someone you trust, but to also proceed with caution as you go to this person. Make sure you emphasize how important it is that they know you’re coming to them in confidence. Remember, if there is no one suitable in your circle of friends or family, you can turn to a support group, or clergy, or a professional counselor. It is important that both partners feel safe as they make the journey to recovery.

Many couples have found that a LIFE Marriage Retreat can play an essential role in that journey.

Dealing with Pornography in Marriage (Part 1)

The Ultimate Question: What Do You Do?

 (For purposes of this article on pornography in marriage the assumption is that it is the husband struggling with the addiction, but pornography addiction is growing rapidly among women as well.)

 When you discover your spouse has been involved with pornography it can be traumatic, to say the least. Fortunately, you’re not alone. There are many, many people across the globe that have partners with sex addictions, which is why there are numerous resources and support groups to help.

LIFE Marriage Retreats does not treat addictions, but we are very experienced and effective in helping couples struggling with addiction to communicate in healthy ways and to rebuild trust which is essential for the recovery process. Here are some tips to help you find comfort and peace amidst the betrayal trauma you’re experiencing.

When you’re ready, talk to your spouse.

 While you don’t need to know the minute details, it is important for you to know how often your spouse is viewing pornography. Is it every day? Once or twice a week? A few times a month? Knowing this will help you know how compulsive the addiction is and how much help your spouse needs to recover from this addiction. Talking frankly will help you both get on the path to healing and restored trust.

It can be so easy to let yourself wonder—what exactly was he viewing? What did the women look like? What’s the exact website he goes too? If you dwell on these questions and insist your spouse answer them, you’re only going to bring yourself more hurt. Don’t let yourself go down the “wondering” path of needing every detail. Not only are those details not necessary, they won’t help you heal.  Ask the questions, such as the following, that will help you discover the root of the problem and why he’s going to pornography:

  • What was your day like leading up to viewing the pornography?
  • How were you feeling and why do you think you felt that way?
  • When you’re upset, stressed, bored, depressed, etc., how do you best cope with those emotions?
  • Do you notice when you’re the most tempted to view pornography?

 Go to a support group.

 Support groups aren’t just for those who have an addiction. There are actually support groups out there for the spouses affected by the addiction. Meeting with and connecting with people who have been where you can be healing, and it can help you know what to do in a situation that’s so difficult to navigate. Plus, these support groups are based on confidentiality and anonymity, which means you can feel safe and protected while you’re there.

Encourage your spouse to go to a sex addiction support group and/or to a qualified counselor experienced in addiction counseling. Regarding the support group, he will not only find strength and support from many others who have been where he’s been, he will also learn skills and gain tools he needs to help him deal with the emotions and behaviors that lead to viewing pornography. He may not want to or be willing to go these support groups, and you can’t force him to. All you can do is work on yourself and hope that your spouse, over time, will see that his behavior is hurting you and will then want to change. (End of part 1)

How Recognizing Your Own Flaws Can Help You Deal With Your Partner’s (Part 1)

Have you ever judged someone for making a choice or acting a certain way and then found yourself in that same situation faced with the same choice? It’s a lot easier to be critical when you’re not the one going through the problem. You never know what you would do or what “the right” thing to do is until you’re in that situation.
Along those same lines, you don’t know what your spouse is going through on the day he doesn’t pick up his clothes or take out the garbage. And he doesn’t know what you’ve been through on the day you didn’t have energy to make dinner or do the laundry. The point is, how much more peaceful would your marriage be if you had empathy for your spouse and if you looked at your own shortcomings before seeking out his? The following points outline how evaluating and working on your weaknesses can help strengthen your marriage:

1. It helps you develop compassion.

Think about one of your faults or flaws—one that’s a little deeper than, say biting your nails or snoring. Maybe you’re a little obsessive about having a clean house or you love watching hours of television every night. Maybe you like to gossip or you’re especially good at holding grudges.

Whatever it is that might be keeping you from progressing into a better person, ask yourself this question: Would you want your spouse holding a certain flaw against you all the time? Would you want him to judge your entire character based on one or two of your flaws? What if he brought it up every time you got in an argument?

It’s not exactly pleasant having your own faults getting thrown in your face. So how do you think your spouse would feel if you did the same thing? Putting yourself in his shoes and seeing things in a different light can help you feel less angry toward your spouse for one his flaws. It can help you feel the compassion you need to look past something that’s been bugging you.

Compassion is based on love and when love is guiding your actions instead of anger and resentment, you’ll have much more success in all aspects of your marriage. Compassion grows when you develop a sense of understanding, and when you genuinely try to grasp how it would feel to be someone else. Compassion comes from getting to know someone better, which means you need to take the time to really talk to and communicate with your partner.

End part 1

Tips for Dealing With a Tragedy in a Marriage (Part 2)

  • Find comfort in each other

Please know you are not alone in this. Your spouse is experiencing grief as well. Find comfort in each other and the fact that you’re both feeling heartache. When you experience a tragedy, it can be easy to cut yourself off from those you love and try to cope with things on your own. Why do that when you have someone who can grieve with you? Let yourself feel the comfort your spouse can give you.

Don’t cut yourself off. It is okay, as stated in point one, to grieve in silence and to need space for a time. It is not okay, however, to remain distant for so long that you’re unreachable and that you’re neglecting important relationships in your life. You need to be able to come back to the people you love with a soft heart and a willingness to show empathy and compassion. You need to be able to comfort and be comforted, especially when it comes to your spouse.

  • Recommit yourselves to your marriage.

Even though it may feel as if you’ve lost everything, you haven’t lost your spouse. Dig deep and find the strength to tell yourself that you’ve lost enough and you don’t need to lose your marriage, too. In the midst of sorrow and grief, it’s still possible to make your marriage a priority and to give your spouse time and affection. Don’t neglect what a precious gift your marriage is. Cling to it, cling to your spouse, and cling to the hope that things will get better.

How exactly do you recommit yourself to your marriage? Here are some simple ways to get back on the right track:

  • Plan a date night and make it a non-negotiable weekly event
  • After getting home from work, talk to each other, look one another in the eyes, and ask how the other person is doing
  • Find a new hobby that you can do together—one that you both enjoy


  • Set aside a time to truly talk.

Schedule a time to talk about what you’re both going through. If one of you is the type that doesn’t like to talk about things and closes off when there’s a tragedy, this is especially important. You NEED to talk about what just happened so that you can find hope and healing. Talking will bring you closer together and will help you know what stage of grief your spouse is in. It will help you both feel not so alone and it will give your soul a chance to feel a little more peace.

Talking about emotions is hard enough, but add a tragedy to the mix, and talking about how you feel gets even harder. It’s uncomfortable and awkward because you’re incredibly vulnerable when you let someone see what you’re thinking and feeling. Talking also helps you to admit out loud to someone else what you might not be ready to admit to yourself.

That’s why so many couples avoid communicating. And that’s exactly why scheduling a day, time, and place to talk is crucial—it helps you to verbalize what you’re feeling even if you feel uncomfortable doing so. If simply setting aside the time to talk to your spouse is what could keep your marriage from breaking apart, it’s worth the discomfort and potential awkwardness. Don’t let your fear of being vulnerable get in the way of making your marriage into something beautiful.

  • Conclusion

At LIFE Marriage Retreats we work with many couples struggling with the after affects of tragedy who have lost their connection to one another and their marriage. A key to remember as you work through the inevitable challenges and losses in life is that as you lean on and support each other in healthy, you will develop new-found strength and trust in your marriage, and the way forward to new light and happiness.


Tips for Dealing With Tragedy in a Marriage (Part 1)

Tragedy—whatever form it may come in—has a way of bringing those affected closer together or tearing them apart. When it’s a husband and wife dealing with the tragic events, the losses can get even higher if they can’t figure out how to cope together. If you want to be the spouses that cling to each other instead of tear apart, take these tips to heart:

  • Remember that people grieve in different ways.

Whether it’s a death or the loss of a dream or a diagnosis for a serious illness, you and your spouse are going to deal with tragedy differently. One of you may openly cry and want to talk and be held, and the other one may shut off and not show emotion. He may not want to talk right away and instead may want to grieve in silence. Know that it’s OKAY if you grieve differently. Give your spouse the space he needs to figure out how to deal with such a significant loss.

If you’re the one that needs space to figure out your emotions, verbalize that. Don’t leave your spouse wondering why you’re so closed off and silent. Simply tell him that this is how you grieve and that you need some time to think and internalize things before doing a big talk. If you’re the spouse that wants to talk and be held and you feel like your partner isn’t there to listen, verbalize that, too. Tell him you need someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on, even if he doesn’t say anything. A listening ear is often the most comfort during a hard time.

  • Look for the silver lining.

As hard as it is to feel hope and peace in the midst of a traumatic event, it is possible. You can still find some good in your life even when you feel like you’re in the depths of despair. Here are some examples of things that can help lift that often-paralyzing sadness:

  • A smile, hug, or word of encouragement from someone you love
  • A beautiful sunrise as you walk through a park
  • A happy, healthy distraction from the pain, like a feel-good movie or an uplifting book or a night out with a friend
  • A list you’ve written of all the things you’re grateful for in your life at this very moment
  • A healthy outlet—painting, music, exercising, gardening, etc.
  • A conscious plan of how you are going to personally move to higher and happier ground and keep your marriage strong through this challenging time

Don’t let yourself fall so deep into the hole of grief that you can’t seem to find a reason to crawl out. If you are feeling this way, reach out to your spouse and communicate what you’re feeling. It may be worth it to go to a counselor or a therapist who can help you deal with the heart-wrenching emotions you’re experiencing. Don’t think that you’re somehow crazy or weak if you need to see a counselor. In fact, it takes incredible strength to seek out help.

(End of Part 1)

How to Keep Resentment from Ruining Your Relationship

How to Keep Resentment from Ruining Your Relationship

 What does it mean to resent someone? Here are some synonyms of resent to give you a better understanding: feel bitter about, be annoyed at, take offense at, harbor a grudge about. It’s probably not hard to think of the last time you felt resentful about something.

You’re not a bad person for feeling resentful but it’s definitely not a pleasant feeling, and it’s one you want to avoid, especially when it comes to your marriage. Resentment has a way of starting out as a small crack in your composure and ending up as a full-blown crevice that separates you and your spouse. If you want to keep this resentment rift from forming, follow these tips:

  1.  Express Yourself

Resentment is often a result of you feeling mad about something your spouse did or didn’t do and keeping the feeling bottled up inside. As your anger and bitterness start to fester and grow, you get to that breaking point that, once you snap, always comes out explosive. To keep yourself from becoming a loose cannon, you need to communicate your feelings, in a considerate and respectful way, when you feel them—not two days later. 

Learning how to express yourself in a productive, kind manner is one of the simplest and most effective ways of mitigating resentment. If it’s so simple, then why is it so hard, you may ask? Communicating, in theory, should be easy because all you’re doing is talking to someone.

The physical act of talking is the easy part. What makes expressing yourself so hard is that so many emotions are involved, like fear of hurting your spouse’s feelings, anger at being hurt yourself, or irritation at your spouse’s obliviousness. When you have so many not-so-pleasant emotions coursing through your veins, it’s difficult to talk to your spouse in a caring and compassionate way.

That’s why you should take some time to cool off first. Don’t let your temper get the better of you. Take 10, 20, or 30 minutes to just calm your heart rate down and get your mind clear. Once you feel like you’re not going to explode, prepare some phrases that will help you get your feelings out. You might not get it right every time, but the more you practice expressing yourself in a productive way, the better you’ll get at it and the better results you’ll see.

  1. Set Boundaries

 Let’s take a look at a few examples that might leave you feeling resentful:

  • You’re the one who gets the baby every time he wakes up during the night and in the morning
  • Your spouse hardly ever helps clean up after dinner
  • You see your spouse giving more affection to your kids than you
  • You end up being the one filling up the gas tank every time
  • You cook and clean everyday without receiving appreciation in return

 The problem with each of these examples is that you’re probably not telling your spouse that there is a problem and that you’re feeling frustrated. Expressing to your spouse that you’re unhappy with a situation is the first step. Once you do tell your spouse that you’re feeling aggravated about the current setup and that you would like to share the responsibility, talk about what’s going to work for the both you.

 This is where setting boundaries comes in. Learning how to set a boundary is a topic that requires its own article, but here’s the short of it: Set ground rules that that will protect you and your spouse from resentment. For example, if your spouse has to get up early for work, you get the baby when he cries in the middle of the night and your spouse gets him when he wakes up in the morning.

You could also trade off nights getting the baby or have your spouse put the baby to bed each night and you get the baby each morning. You could have your spouse take more responsibility on the weekends while you take more responsibility during the week. Whatever you decide on, make sure you’re both happy with the boundary, not just one of you, and make sure you both get time to rest.

  1. Be Empathetic

 When all you see is your side of things, it’s much easier to get riled up and angry every time you think of an issue that’s bothering you. To keep this from happening, try putting yourself in his shoes. See things from his perspective and be understanding. Getting up early to go to work isn’t always easy and maybe that’s why he has a hard time getting the baby in the middle of the night.

 The more compassion and empathy you have for your spouse, the easier it will be to let the resentment subside and to talk things out in a loving and understanding manner. You’ll be surprised at how much your heart and attitude can soften if you truly put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. The next time you’re having a moment of irritation and anger, pause for a second and try to see things from his perspective. It might alleviate all the tension you’re feeling, but it will definitely help to bring your frustration down a few notches.

  1. Realize that You’re Not Perfect Either

Take a good, long look at yourself and acknowledge that you have weaknesses too. Is it possible that you may be doing something that your spouse doesn’t like or is resentful about?

You need to take responsibility for your imperfections and for the role you might play in certain marital issues. Knowing that you wouldn’t want your spouse to rub your mistakes in your face will make you think twice about lashing out at your spouse for something he did or didn’t do.

  1. Practice Being Vulnerable

One of the reasons it’s so hard to communicate your feelings of anger and bitterness in a moment when your spouse is doing something that’s really bugging you is that expressing means being vulnerable. Communicating your feelings means admitting you’re not perfect and that you need something from your spouse.

It can sometimes make you feel weak and helpless to admit unpleasant emotions, but the irony is that strength comes from being vulnerable. How? You’re admitting you need your spouse’s help, companionship, and teamwork. Once you ask for help, you’ll more than likely receive it, and when you have your spouse’s hands and heart alongside yours, you’re that much stronger.

It’s also important to note that regularly scheduling a meeting between you and your spouse is a key tool for preventing resentment from growing. Making time each day or week to sit down and talk will help you to consistently address the important issues currently happening in your relationship. Schedule this meeting on the same day and at the same time every week so that it becomes a permanent part of your life. It should become so second nature that if you didn’t do it, it would feel like not eating breakfast that day. Regularly communicating with your spouse about important issues is an integral part of thriving relationships.


Is Forgiveness Synonymous with Trust?


When someone you love or care about has deeply hurt you, it can be a complicated process restoring everything you once had back to what it used to be. Contrary to what many people think, complete reconciliation doesn’t come with these three words: I forgive you. Forgiveness is but a step in the process of restoring a relationship that has been broken by betrayal. Forgiving someone does not mean you now need to completely trust him or forget what happened. Here’s a more in-depth look at the differences between trust and forgiveness:

Forgiveness and Trust Are NOT One and the Same

Simply put, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It sets you free from the bitterness and hurt you’re feeling inside. All the pain you keep in your heart that almost feels tangible will be lifted and will evaporate once you decide to forgive.

Woman West Eternity Hands Love Trust Heart

Forgiveness is a solo endeavor. It’s something you have to work through independent of the other party. For instance, you can forgive someone who you may never see again or someone who has passed away. While a genuine apology can make forgiveness easier, ultimately, it isn’t necessary. Forgiveness is a decision you make on your own.  When you do, it will feel liberating like a weight or burden has been removed..

On the other hand, Trust is not the same as forgiveness. Trust requires consistent action by the offender in order for trust  to be granted. Trust has to be rebuilt, and while forgiveness is a part of that rebuilding process, granting forgiveness does not mean you’re granting trust, too.

If you’re the person who broke the trust, you may think that once you’ve been forgiven, things can go back to the way they were. This is not true and you should not expect this, as doing so will prolong the reconciliation process. The person who chooses to forgive you gets to set boundaries and then decide when to grant trust based on your consequent actions and if you prove you’re trustworthy.

Forgiveness is Given Freely While Trust Has to Be Earned

When you decide to forgive, you’re not letting the offender off the hook. You’re not all of a sudden alleviating the person of his accountability and responsibility toward the situation. Once again, forgiveness is for YOU, not the other person. It shouldn’t even be based on the other person’s actions. You can still choose to forgive even if the person who hurt you is not remorseful or does not want to change.

However, if you’re offering forgiveness and want to reconcile (and therefore offer trust) as the next step, you should expect the other person to show that he’s worthy of trust and reconciliation. Forgiving shouldn’t change anything when it comes to the behavior you now expect from the offender. It’s just as important for the forgiver to understand this as for the person you’re forgiving, so that more misunderstandings (like the offender thinking he doesn’t need to follow boundaries because he’s been forgiven) don’t take place.

Reconciling with someone, which is completely separate from forgiving someone, is a much more complicated and grueling process. Why? It requires participation and a willingness to change on the part of the offender. Earning trust moves beyond forgiveness. It’s an interpersonal process—a joint venture that requires the offender to apologize, to show he’s sorry, and to offer hope that there can be a future for both of you again. Sometimes, however, trust and reconciliation aren’t possible. If the two of you can’t find a way to work through the hurt and betrayal and simply can’t get along, you may have to accept that reconciliation won’t happen. But remember that forgiveness is always, always possible.

Forgiveness and Trust Are Both Processes that Take Time

Forgiveness is an internal and unilateral process based solely on your ability to do the following:

  • Gain a clear understanding of what happened
  • Work through the hurt and anger
  • Learn how to feel safe again
  • Let go of the grudge and let the memory heal
  • Be willing to remember the past with compassion and hope instead of with a sense of injustice

This is not an easy process, and the timeline for forgiveness can either be short or extremely long, based on what happened. It helps to remember that forgiveness is not an event that happens at one time, in one place, or in one moment. Forgiveness is a process, which means you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if you can’t forgive someone right away, even if you want to.

Once again, forgiveness should not be based on the offender’s actions but on your own attitude and your willingness to see that forgiveness will set you free. Holding onto the grudge isn’t punishing the offender, even though it may feel like being mad at him is a sort of revenge. “Getting back” at someone by refusing to forgive does nothing to set things right. It only makes life harder for you.

While forgiveness should be offered freely, trust should be offered slowly. Rebuilding trust, which is a part of the reconciliation process, takes the two of you. You need to talk about what happened, listen to his side of the story, express your hurt feelings, listen for his remorse, and evaluate whether you both want to get to a point where you want to reconcile and give and receive trust again. It’s a process that takes time because you need to see if he’s willing to follow the set boundaries and show that he’s trustworthy over the next few weeks, months, and years. You also need to show that you’ve truly forgiven him by not throwing what happened back in his face every time you’re feeling hurt. You need to let yourself create a new way of remembering what happened—a way that allows you to change the memory of the past into a hope for the future that has both of you in it.



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