Throughout middle school, high school, and into college, it's common to have lots of different friends... many of them friends of the opposite gender.Those relationships get a little fuzzier once you get into a serious, committed relationship. Where you used to be able to hang out alone with a friend of the opposite gender, that might not be appropriate any longer.
Soooo... how do you navigate all of that? In this post, we're going to share:
Disclaimer: In this post, we're going to share the boundaries we have in our marriage as well as some recommendations we make to couples when we talk with them one-on-one. That said, you'll need to determine the best boundaries for your relationship. Maybe that means loosening up some boundaries or maybe it means tightening up some boundaries. It's totally up to you.
Let's jump in!
We had this conversation almost immediately after getting engaged. Talking about this topic in a proactive way allows both of you to get on the same page before an unspoken boundary is crossed.
Here's an example of a reactive boundary: Your husband has a good friend, a female, he grew up with. Growing up, it was normal for the two of them to hang out alone or go get dinner together. His friend comes into town and wants to grab dinner with him. Because he's done it a hundred times before, they go out to dinner and he doesn't think much of it. He comes home and you get upset with him and tell him it's not appropriate for him to do that. Now, he thinks you just don't like his friend, when in reality, you don't think he should go out with any girls without you.
On the other hand, here's an example of a proactive boundary using that same scenario: You guys talk about your boundaries when you're engaged. Now, when his friend comes into town and asks him to go to dinner, he automatically makes sure you're invited.
See the difference? When you talk proactively about boundaries, you're able to remove any hard conversations that happen as a result of crossing unspoken boundaries.
Now that you understand the difference between reactive and proactive boundaries, you might be wondering when you should even have this conversation with your future spouse.
As a general rule of thumb, as soon as you're seriously dating or engaged, it's probably a good time to talk about boundaries. Around this time is when it becomes a bit more important to take a look at your friendships and evaluate how those friendships may or may not impact your marriage.
If you're not sure how to even start this conversation, feel free to work through the list of questions below. Some of them will help you understand your partner's background and experience with opposite-gender friends while others will help you determine specific boundaries.
Again, please keep in mind these boundaries are what work best for us. Your relationship might look a bit different, and that's okay! We established these boundaries while were engaged and have revisited them a few times since.
Ultimately, we've established these boundaries to protect our marriage and help us avoid a sticky situation.
We've mentioned this a few times already, but just in case it isn't clear: you'll need to determine boundaries in your relationship. These are a great starting point, but you may decide to change it up a bit... that's totally fine.
You may want "stronger" boundaries if: either of you has had boundary issues with friends of the opposite gender in the past, either of you struggles with pornography, either of you has been untruthful or secretive about previous relationships, or you simply want to have stronger boundaries to protect your relationship (no shame in that!).
Lastly, here are a few boundary "areas" you should talk about:
This can be an uncomfortable conversation to have... but it's an important one. Your spouse is your #1 priority and creating these boundaries helps protect your marriage and your relationship. You've got this!
If you have questions or concerns about boundaries–we're an open book! Send us a DM at @loveyourfirstyear.