Finding Balance — with Dr. Michele Gelfland

Finding Balance — with Dr. Michele Gelfland

Finding Balance — with Dr. Michele Gelfland

How To Have It All… By Finding Balance

FINDING BALANCE: We want to have everything. We want and need to have rules and structure to protect us and guide our lives. Yet we also crave freedom and independence. We long to have empathy and compassion in our relationships, but we also want to be challenged so that we can grow.

Finding Balance In All Things

Tight vs. Loose. Protective vs. Forgiving. Planning vs. Being Present. Everything we do exists on a continuum, a spectrum of finding balance between extremes so that we can create a healthy path on every level.

My guest on today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is cultural psychologist and researcher Dr. Michele Gelfland. Dr. Gelfland has spent years exploring subjects like:

  • Why having overly empathetic and supportive relationships can inhibit your growth.
  • How some cultures and ways of being are rule-bound and “tight” and others are permissive and “loose” and why there are strengths in both.
  • The keys to finding middle paths in negotiations, relationships, and personal well-being.
  • The dangers of extreme ways of thinking and being, for individuals, families, and societies.
  • Practical strategies to help you achieve a healthy balance in yourself, your life, and your relationships.

Dr. Gelfland is the author of “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World,” she’s been on the stage of TedEx, she’s been featured on The Hidden Brain podcast, and now she’s here with me to share her wisdom with YOU.

I hope her fascinating insights help you find a healthy balance in your life.

xoxo,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Finding Balance — with Dr. Michele Gelfand

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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How To Keep Your Relationship Healthy During Self-Isolation

How To Keep Your Relationship Healthy During Self-Isolation

How To Keep Your Relationship Healthy During Self-Isolation

Staying Sane, Together

We have found ourselves in an unparalleled situation that no one could have predicted. The world is facing a challenge more difficult than anyone could have expected: forced family time indefinitely — home quarantine 24/7. For couples out there, you may be looking for answers on how to keep your relationship healthy during self-isolation. Because let’s be honest, being together All The Time can feel a little overwhelming. 

As an online marriage counselor and relationship coach, I am now seeing my couple’s therapy couples in all different types of situations, being confronted with new and unforeseen challenges in how to manage their relationships in claustrophobic quarters. Have you experienced this too?

Figuring out new formulas to handle household responsibilities when parents are working at home, being together 24/7 in a confined space, managing the kids 24/7, are all issues that no self-help book or couples therapist has advised on previously. [Speaking of kids and quarantine, here’s some helpful advice on how to survive! Tips to Survive Quarantine with Kids.]

Compounded by the increased stress and anxiety of financial issues and general uncertainty about the future, this quarantine has the potential to make or break our relationships.

I want to share with you 12 simple tips on how to keep your relationship healthy during self-isolation as we navigate through these very uncertain times. 

Embrace The Dialectic

One of my college professors wisely told me, “The closer you come to the truth, the closer you come to a paradox.” Almost every issue in life involves embracing the dialectic, which is examining how two contrasting ideas can simultaneously be truthful, and in the paradoxical truth, a greater understanding emerges. 

There are going to be times when you’ve never felt closer to your partner and when you absolutely detest them (this is normal!). In your relationship, you might get to connect and talk with each other in ways that you have never before but you might also get more annoyed and irritated than ever before! (If this is you, don’t worry – we have all been there!)

Embracing that you can have opposite feelings at the same time will relieve relational stress and anxiety that may feel pressing or hard to navigate. We do not have to choose one or the other. Embrace that your partnership is not black and white, and it is from the grey where true compatibility, trust, and partnership emerge. 

Receive Clarity Around Your Relationship

This surreal state of uncertainty is the perfect opportunity to discover your ‘truth’. 

Here’s were clarity around your relationship steps in – either you know that this relationship was not meant to work and this is the straw on the camel’s back, you now have the clarity to make the right decision for both of you. Or, more optimistically, the clarity you discover is around how much you really love your partner and how you are ready to jump in and give them your complete love and dedication. 

This is an opportunity for clarity, whatever that might mean for you. 

Gain Perspective And Create Your “Future”

How will you as a couple look back at this in 5 years, 10 years, and even 20 years?  My daughter’s teacher told her that this will be her generation’s 9/11. What will you tell your children and grandchildren about this time? As uncertain and rapidly changing this might seem, we are living history right now.

What do you want your memories to be? Did you learn how to live differently? Did it teach you something about what is really important and what your values truly are? 

Hold onto that after this pandemic is over and let it change your life. This quarantine can be what you make it — maybe you started your novel or cleaned your whole house top to bottom, or maybe it was a time to relax and reflect. 

Keep A Balance

Don’t bury your head in the sand, or become overly focused and obsessed with the crisis. There is a balance between knowing what is going on in the world and ruminating about it.

Everyone needs to focus on creating a balance. Life will go on and you will still need to function; so find plenty of time to balance your work, your relationships, and your life.

Limit your social media and time spent watching the news for the sake of your own sanity. This could be a good time to start new habits around the news, social media, and managing your own anxiety. [Here’s more on creating balance through Intentional Living – How to not Panic in the PANIC.]

Dealing With Crisis Shows Us Who We Are

How we handle challenges that life throws at us shows us who we are and shows us who our partner is. 

What are you learning about yourself and your partner during this time? How can you use this to cooperate better with your partner in the future?

Using this time to gain insight into your partnership will ultimately help set your relationship up for success as you move forward.

Slow Down And Tune In

If there is ever going to be a better opportunity to get off of the proverbial ‘rat race’, this is it. What do you want to do that you are usually too busy for? Who do you want to be that you’ve never given yourself an opportunity to be? This is your moment to jump in and work towards your best self

As a couple, this is an excellent opportunity to become the couple that you loved, that brought out the best in both of you. 

Show Your Vulnerability

This is a time to expand who you are in the daily rituals and expectations of everyday life. Show your partner that you want to connect. Show your partner that you are worried or that you are scared or that you are hopeful. This is a great opportunity to show more of who you are. Remember to laugh, make love, and dream. [For more on creating rituals together, read: Keys to a Successful Marriage During Quarantine.]

The “so-that” Principle

Everything we do in life is the “so-that.” The so-that principle says, “I do ___ so-that I can/feel/know/do/have/etc.” What is your so-that? What will this do for you in the road ahead? Is this making me happier? Or richer? Are you leading your life to be rich or successful, fulfilled, loved, or happy? What is your so-that? 

Look For The Spiritual Meaning

What existential questions is this time bringing up for you, your partner, and your relationship? I hope it brings up the fact that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. How do you want to be spending your days and ultimately, your life together? 

Recognize The Fragility Of Life

When ask what people miss after a loved one passes away, the thing most commonly said is that they miss the little things. The everyday moments. The small annoyances. The daily habits. Choose to not let those moments go. 

Take stock of your time together, find gratitude in the little things – recognize the fragility of life and the brief moments the feel fleeting but important. Honor these moments.

Be Open To Sharing Your Feelings

Unfortunately, we do not get to choose which feelings to feel. We choose to feel all of our feelings or we try to feel none of them.

You can try to control your life so that you only feel the feelings you want, but it does not work that way. If you want to live life on life’s terms, you need to choose to be open to feeling them all. 

In a time like this, there will be moments of joy and moments of panic. Choose not to shut yourself down to that experience. You will regret it. Be open to sharing this experience as partners working through this time together as you work towards keeping your relationship healthy during self-isolation.

Warmly,
Brenda Fahn, M.A., LMFT

Brenda Fahn, M.A., LMFT helps people strengthen their marriages, their families, and themselves. She can help you enjoy your relationships with your partner and children, heal from difficult experiences, and cultivate meaning, joy, and love in your life.

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Keys To A Successful Marriage During Quarantine

Keys To A Successful Marriage During Quarantine

Keys To A Successful Marriage During Quarantine

Connecting with your partner

In a time of rampant uncertainty, it is reasonable to experience anxiety and fear, as so many around the world are. As an online therapist and marriage counselor, many of my clients are experiencing new challenges and growth opportunities in their partnerships. Today I am sharing my top three keys to a successful marriage during quarantine. 

Couples around the globe are worried about their financial security, meeting basic needs, taking care of loved ones, and protecting the health of their families, themselves, and their communities. 

We are inundated with news of an ever-escalating public health crisis, which can severely disrupt our ability to be present and to feel grounded. Many couples and families are finding themselves together at home more now than ever before. This can be quite tough to navigate as partners are working from home and tending to children who are now without their usual forms of childcare and school. 

Needless to say, we are all facing an increasing amount of stressors, which can lead to increased disconnect and conflict for couples during this time in close quarters. However, if we look for them and actively cultivate them, there are opportunities for increased connection and intimacy through these trying times. 

The keys to a successful marriage during quarantine will open up new dialogue and growth opportunities between you and your partner.

Create And Maintain Rituals Of Connection

Daily routines and structures have now been interrupted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create new supportive structures and connection in our daily lives. 

Without long daily commutes and shuffling kids to activities you might find that you now have more time at home. The reason I most often hear from couples as to why they have limited connection is simply, time. 

“We just don’t have enough time in the day to connect with each other in the way we’d like.” 

In this moment we have, in many cases, been given the gift of time. Time to slow down, time to talk to each other, time to connect. So why not create a new routine for your days, one focused exclusively on connecting with each other. 

A ritual of connection is something we can easily create that doesn’t require money or leaving the house. I encourage couples to create a ritual of connection that they can engage in daily. It can take five minutes, or an hour. There can be plenty of flexibility in creating rituals. I’ve listed some possible rituals you might try below.

  • Have your morning or coffee together and share your hopes for the day
  • Take a break in your day and go for a walk outside (of course while still practicing social distancing with others)
  • Have lunch together
  • Start and end your day with a slow kiss and warm embrace
  • Check in about your day by asking each other for a high and low point of the day
  • Share gratitude with each other 

Make Space For All Emotions

Inevitably we all handle stress, anxiety, and fear differently- and that’s okay! 

When we notice our partner is worried or overwhelmed, it can be easy to launch into solution mode. This isn’t always necessary or helpful though. Instead, when you notice that your partner is worried or overwhelmed, you might tell them that whatever they are feeling is okay and makes sense. 

Ask them what they are feeling and thinking and ask how you can support them. Ask how they prefer to be comforted when they are feeling the emotions they express, and if you are able, move to comfort them in that way. 

Some people might need a warm embrace while others might need to do something to regulate and practice self-care like meditate or engage in some form of movement. Inevitably, it’s likely that your partner could benefit from hearing that you are there with them and that they are not alone in this

Try to validate your partner as much as possible, and if you find yourself having a hard time understanding what is happening for them, be curious! Ask them to tell you more about what this is like for them. Avoid telling them that they are overreacting or that their emotions are wrong as this can lead to disconnect and conflict.

Share Gratitude

In a time when stress and anxieties are elevated and people have very real worries, it can be helpful to make space for gratitude where possible. 

Try to spend 5 minutes with each other each day to share what you are grateful for in your relationship. Perhaps you’re grateful for having more time for rituals of connection, or time to play in the yard with your kids as a family. 

Share gratitude for your bond that gives you the strength to be resilient during hard times and hope for the future. Share gratitude for the qualities in your partner that help keep you grounded, like their sense of humor or kindness for the community you live in. 

Remind yourselves of the bond you share and ground yourselves in these truths during this time.

My hope for you and your partner is that as you implement these three keys to a successful marriage during quarantine you will cultivate greater connection and a stronger bond between the two of you.

Here’s to you and your partner surviving quarantine together!

Warmly, 
Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFT-C

How are you turning toward your partner during this time? Do you have a favorite ritual you like to engage in with your partner? Leave it in the comments for others to get inspired!

Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFT-C is an online couples counselor, individual therapist, premarital counselor, and a life and relationship coach. She works with her clients to build connected relationships, restore emotional bonds, and grow in their capacity to love others as well as themselves.

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How to Keep Stress From Tanking Your Sex Life

How to Keep Stress From Tanking Your Sex Life

How to Keep Stress From Tanking Your Sex Life

Stress and Sex Drive

Is your partnership struggling to keep things “spicy” in the bedroom? Due to all the current stressors in the world, we are all experiencing a multitude of difficulties. As an online sex therapist and couples counselor, I have worked with couples through it all and commonly as a result of stress, it is possible that sex will take the last little note on a couple’s list of priorities. 

Even without extraordinary stressors like today, in most long-term relationships, sooner or later there will be a time when the sexual dynamic is not as ambient as it once was. Even in a happy and otherwise fulfilling relationship, sexuality can take a hit due to several reasons, including stress, major life events, hormonal changes, physiological concerns, etc.. 

However, when things in the bedroom become a little more dull, repetitive or almost absent, there are quite a few ways to “spice things up”. Because of the current state of stress that MANY of us are in, I wanted to share with you my favorite bedroom-play tips for more fun and less stress in the bedroom. You won’t believe how easy it is to keep stress from tanking your stress life!

Give Each Other A Sensual Massage

A massage will help you or your partner relax and connect with each other on a physical level. The massage doesn’t have to be very sexual or even lead to sex (although it can), but you should focus on making the moment intimate (so, not a sports massage). You can keep your underwear on, but make sure there is ample amount of skin to skin contact between the two of you. 

For the full effect to take place, use massage oil (coconut or olive oil is also fine), light some candles, put on some music, and create a nice relaxing ambience. Let stress melt away as you tune into eachother.

Not the best at home masseuse? Now that we have to wash our hands constantly, try making it fun by giving one another a hand massage with oil or hand cream. This can be a very sensual, stimulating yet simple activity to connect physically.

Genuinely Compliment Each Other

Compliments make us feel special and help us connect, and it’s easy to get caught up in the in the motion of life and to forget how good we can make our partner feel by pointing out our favorite things about them. Don’t hesitate to show appreciation for each other’s wonderful qualities. 

Try complimenting your partners unique personality and also mention all the things you find physically attractive about them (their eyes, lips hands, muscles, bottom, etc.).

When we feel good about ourselves (especially if our partner is the one giving us all the feels) then it’s a lot easier to take a step back, breathe, and find gratitude in all the little moments together

Pillow Talk

After sex, spend some time talking about what felt good during the experience. If you’d like something done in a different way, try approaching it with positive language, such as ‘ it feels great when you’ – try avoiding negative language like ‘don’t do this, or I hate it when you…’ 

Pillow talk can lead to some of your most intimate moments. Your connection to your partner may feel heightened during this time, your partnership may have the comfort of vulnerability, and using this time to express your love for one another – likes, dislikes, dreams, fears…can lead to a deeper strength and healthier stress levels in the long-run.

Read Erotic Stories To Each Other

This is a fun one…there are several books and online websites you can find that have erotic stories. Finding one that you like and sharing it with your partner can be a great part of your foreplay. If you are creative, you can also write your own stories about all the sexy things you’d like to do with your partner, in what setting. These can be hypothetical or very realistic. 

Reading to each other is a great way to get your heads out of the “real world” and into your relationship. If you or your partner struggle with foreplay due to the pressing stress of life around you – this is an excellent way to encourage one another’s sex drive while letting some of life’s worries go.

Share Your Sex-Fantasies

So many times I hear my clients share that they love hearing about their partner’s fantasies. Similar to the previous point, this can create a great amount of desire in your dynamic.

Sharing your sex-fantasies with your partner can open new opportunities to adventure in the bedroom. Encouragement here is key. You don’t have to be the most adventurous sex partner to have a little fantasy fun. Join in as you feel comfortable and have fun with it. 

Explore Your Environment

Have sex in different parts of the house/apartment – try the kitchen, livingroom, car in the garage, guest room or bathroom. Novelty is also a great way to light that spark and have fun.

Speaking of exploring your environment, get clean together. Showering or bathing together is in so many of the classic romance movies because it’s exactly that – romantic, sensual, heated, and fun. Lather one another up with soap while exploring each other’s bodies in a sensual way. 

Try A Sex Toy 

There are so many great sex toys available out there. Some are simple and very affordable; some are more elaborate. It is fun to get something that you can use together, but it can also be helpful to have one just for solo play. 

If you’ve never used a sex toy before, start simple and speak with an expert (or read some reviews). They can help you pick out the right plessure gadget for you and your partner. 

Test Out New Positions 

After some time, most couples have their usual 1-3 positions they stick to. I understand why = they work. However, when the spark starts fading, it is a great way to help you explore each other again. 

You’ll find that your preference might have even changed over time. However, most importantly trying new positions is not just about finding the best way to get to the end, but about having fun. Yes, sometimes it will be awkward or impossible, but try and have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to look or sound silly, as having fun together will boost your libido (and a boosted libido means less stress).

Solo Play (You do you, boo *wink wink*)

Spend some time self-pleasuring/masturbating. Solo play, like coupled sex, can help reduce stress. This can be part of your ‘me time’, where you can explore fantasies, explore what feels good, and what your preferences are. 

It will also provide a pleasure roadmap that will be useful for your partner, as once you know what feels nice, you can then teach your partner the best ways they can participate as well.

Send A Provocative Text

Sexting is for everyone, and it is a fun way to give your partner some insight on what is on your mind, or what some of your fantasies might be. You can do this even if your partner is in the same room as you.

Have fun, that’s what emojis are for anyway right? Sexting is an excellent way to get foreplay started.

Sensory Play 

Take away one or more senses during foreplay. Not being able to see or hear heightens the awareness on other pleasurable sensations and that can be very exciting. 

Make sure you establish the ground rules first, so everyone feels comfortable throughout.

Commit To One Sexy Act Every Day

This could be anything from a kiss, to a sensual massage, to doing any of the previously mentioned activities – staying in a frame of mind that promotes intimacy, can have a positive impact on your libido and help reduce stress both individually and within the relationship. 

Ask For Help When Needed!

If you feel sexuality is a difficult part of your relationship for any reason, even without the added stressors of today’s climate, rest assured there is help. Online sex therapy with a qualified consultant can be very helpful in exploring the root causes of the difficulties and finding solutions to help you get to a more fulfilling sex life while leaving that pesky stress behind. 

Here’s to spicing things up in the bedroom!

Dori Bagi, M.S., SAS, MACA

Dori Bagi, M.S., SAS, MACA is a kind, empathetic couples counselor, individual therapist, and life coach who specializes in sex therapy. Her friendly style makes it safe to talk about anything, and her solution-focused approach helps you move past the past, and into a bright new future of intimacy and connection.

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Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is a therapist, life coach and dating coach whose mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life especially when it comes to dating after divorce. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, as well as actualize your life’s purpose.

 

Ready to find love again?

I often hear the question, “When is someone ready to start dating after divorce?” That’s a hard question to answer, but those who are newly divorced give dating a lot more consideration than the majority of single folks out there.

Their hesitation to jump back into the dating pool makes sense; the reason being is that divorce shakes our confidence in our ability to connect. When you’ve gone through a traumatic relationship loss or breakup it can make you question your ability to trust others but also your ability to trust your decisions on choosing a partner. Dating after a divorce feels much riskier.

So, if you are lost with no idea where to even start with dating after divorce, don’t worry, you are not alone and there are ways in which you can help yourself. Here are some guidelines to help you recover and get back out there.

Tips For Dating After Divorce

  • Revise your self-talk to support your success

Confidence plays a major role in the healing process of divorce. Some relationships can be similar to an addiction to another person. Addicts don’t believe that they’ll ever be able to survive without their drug. Divorcees can sometimes feel like they’ll never be able to find love again.

This is a negative thinking pattern that can lead to more than just lack of confidence but isolation, anxiety, and depression. So be in-tune with what you are telling yourself, and try to create a more empowering narrative. Chances are a good dose of loving self-talk could help your situation. For more on how to do this, check out our Happiness Class.

  • Assess whether you are you really ready

You may not be ready to date if you’re still, in your heart of hearts, privately carrying a torch for your Ex. Like an addiction, when a relationship ends we can be ambivalent and question whether or not we’ll go back into that relationship again. Many people spend months after a breakup or divorce half hoping your partner may change their mind and realize they made a huge mistake. If that’s the case, you then are putting your healing process in their hands. Furthermore, any new relationship you attempt is likely to spin its wheels.

Take back control by committing to moving yourself forward. It may be helpful to get clarity and closure about why your breakup or divorce was a good thing. For example, recognizing that your past relationship wasn’t meeting all of your needs and working on clarity and closure for yourself. This may mean you keep distance from this person and take every precaution not to slip back into the purgatory of waiting and hoping. For many people, getting the support of a great breakup recovery coach or participating in a breakup recovery group can help them heal and grow, as opposed to wallpaper over the pain by dating prematurely.

Only then will you be genuinely emotionally available to begin a healthy new relationship with someone else.

  • Make a needs list

Many times in failed relationships we were not getting our needs met before they ended. Maybe you don’t even know what your needs are in a relationship because they have been on the back burner for so long. Take your time to write out a list of what you NEED in a relationship. This list could include, honesty, trust, quality time, etc. This list will help guide you in the dating process to be honest with you and your future partner of whether or not this relationship will work for you.

I also encourage my dating coaching clients to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to be able to come to a new relationship the way I want to?’ This way you are also looking at what you need to be able to provide in order to connect back to others in a way that isn’t compromised by manipulation or feelings of inadequacy.

  • Let go of the pressure to heal  

Depending on what the reasons were for the divorce, it could take days, or it could take years to grieve this relationship trauma. Don’t let a time frame determine your journey towards love. Feeling pressured by time or other people doesn’t help us grow into the person we want to be. I encourage divorcees who are not ready to enter back into the dating world to engage your support network and surround yourself with people you can rely on.

  • Focus on self-care

Lastly, I’d suggest making time for self-care. Surround yourself with people who support you, do things that are fun, and make sure you invest in rest, nutrition, exercise, and your healing process. When you put energy into your self and your own wellness, you’ll exude the confidence and self respect that’s so attractive to potential new partners.

Dating after divorce can feel challenging, but you have a lot of power. Remind yourself that although your mind may be trying to trick you that the rest of your life is going to be an uphill battle, it doesn’t have to be. Using some of these different approaches I’ve described, like revising your self talk, working through the past before moving forward, prioritizing your needs, honoring your own timeline, and practicing good self care can arm you with a set of tools to help you feel genuinely able to move forward, and challenge yourself to be open to finding love again.

All the best to you,

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Ps: If you’re ready to jump back in the pool, here are more ideas to support you in this podcast: The New Rules of Modern Dating — check it out!

How to Set Boundaries with Parents

How to Set Boundaries with Parents

How to Set Boundaries with Parents

Living YOUR Life

Do you experience uncomfortable tension around the family dinner table when gathering for events, holidays, or special occasions with your loved ones? It’s not uncommon for families to have blurred boundary lines. Often due to a level of familiarity and comfort, we may find what lines we do have in place are frequently crossed – especially when it comes to our parents and in-laws. Why is this?

 

Setting good boundaries can often feel uncomfortable when the relationship is as delicate as a parent/child relationship, and even though you may now be an adult (married with children, managing your own affairs, and pursuing paths in life relatively foreign to that of your parents), they may still see you as their “child” in the sense of adolescent, unknowing, and naive to matters of the world. 

 

Boundaries, similar to limits, are incredibly important to set early in relationships. We set them with our employers when we sign our employment contract, we establish them with our friends to maintain a healthy social / work / life balance, and we create them within our romantic relationships to protect ourselves and our partner. However, when it comes to our parents, these boundaries are set later in life as we become adults and the transition can often feel uncomfortable and confusing to navigate. 

 

We all have limitations, and it’s essential to know your limitations so that others cannot take advantage of them. When it comes to limits, we are only in control of ourselves. The first step in setting boundaries is to remember that we can change our actions and perspectives, but we can’t change others. Secondly, we must understand that boundaries can be uncomfortable for both sides of the boundary. 

 

As a relationship coach and individual therapist, I work with my clients around setting boundaries quite frequently. Many of my clients have already put in the work to excel personally and professionally with boundaries in their workplace, friendships, and romantic relationships. When it comes to parents though, it’s a whole other ballgame! If you’re feeling this way too, welcome to the club! 

 

I want to stress that this is a common experience, and you’re not alone in this struggle. Today I want to share with you some useful ways that you can begin to acknowledge where boundaries are needed in your parental relationships and tips for getting started in creating (and keeping) them. 

Why Do We Need Boundaries Anyway? 

Boundaries are necessary in relationships for both your own protection and mental health. It is important not to enable inappropriate or destructive behaviors – especially ones that lead to toxic relationships. Unfortunately, establishing boundaries and enforcing them with family can be extremely difficult, and even harder as you become an adult and get married. 

 

Do any of these parental examples sound familiar?

  • One of your in-laws causes division between you and your spouse
  • Your mother-in-law does not approve of the marriage
  • Your parents are struggling to accept you or your spouse as adult-children
  • Your father does not like your spouse and refuses to accept them as part of the family

 

With boundaries, you can protect yourself, your marriage, and your family (and make your relationship with your partner stronger). By doing so, you are still loving those on the other side of the boundaries, and you are opening the door for growth, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the start of a healthy relationship between your marriage and your parents or in-laws.

Creating And Enforcing Boundaries As A Team

When setting boundaries with parents and in-laws, you and your significant other must have a clear understanding and be in agreement about what those boundaries are and how you will enforce them.

 

Being on the same page is vital to the success of your boundaries as a unit. This means that you will both need to treat this part of the process with importance. Find a time that works well for both of you to sit down together and discuss your concerns without distraction. Then, come up with solutions to those concerns by drafting boundaries that will ultimately lead to a more productive, successful partnership with your parents (and leave you and your partner feeling good about the decision(s) you come to together). 

 

Do you and your partner feel differently about the boundaries in question? That’s okay, we all have different values and comfort levels (even in marriage!). This may be an excellent time to work through a difficult conversation and build a new skill within your relationship! This process of creating healthy boundaries should ultimately give you and your partner a sense of freedom and empowerment in your marriage. [Looking for advice on working through conflict constructively? Check out Constructive Conflict: Arguments That Help Your Relationship Grow for more information.]

 

Once you have your boundaries in place and your method for supporting and enforcing these boundaries as a team, you can then discuss them with your parents.

Discussing Boundaries With Your Parent(s)

How you address the conversation with your parents is as equally important as the boundaries themselves. For your parents to feel comfortable and not attacked, you shouldn’t shame or point fingers but instead use this time to speak about the future and how these boundaries will ultimately build a better bond between you, your partner, and your parents as a unit. Encourage them to voice how they feel about what you are presenting and actively listen to develop a common understanding between both parties. 

 

Here are a few conversation starter tips I like to share with my relationship coaching clients to use when addressing their parents about necessary boundaries, feel free to use them yourself:

 

  1. Be open and honest about how you feel, but recognize that this new information may be coming out of “no-where” in your parents’ eyes. Respect their feelings and offer the conversation as a safe place to discuss both sides of the boundary.
  2. Schedule your conversation or plan it around an appropriate time. Giving the other half a heads up about the conversation will lend to a fuller, more productive conversation and less confusion or defensiveness.
  3. Respect your relationship with your parents – sometimes your parents might not see eye to eye with you and/or your partner, and that’s okay. Remember that change takes time.
  4. Don’t let your parents take over your mission. If you have it in your heart to see change in the boundaries between your relationship with your partner and your parents – then don’t give up. Honor your relationship and keep showing up for it. 

 

It’s likely that this conversation will feel uncomfortable for both sides. My advice is that the partner whose parents are causing the conflict or displaying unhealthy / inappropriate behaviors should take the lead in setting these new boundaries with their parent(s). 

Be Prepared For These (Negative) Responses

Some parents may take this news extremely well, however, the response is often not rainbows and butterflies (that’s why this conversation can be so difficult!). So it’s important to prepare yourself for these common (negative) responses:

 

Anger 

Resentment 

Denial 

Guilt Trips 

Resistance 

Spouse Division Attempts

 

You should discuss with your partner the plan for moving forward if these responses show up in the parent(s) feedback.

Boundaries CAN Be Flexible

The thing about boundaries is they can be flexible. Boundaries don’t have to be in place forever. The length and extent will vary from person-to-person / relationship-to-relationship. The goal of the boundary is to take ownership of actions, respect wishes, and have the willingness to put in the hard work to change. The level of acceptance and participation will establish the length and severity of the boundaries.

 

As people change and grow, boundaries change with them. Be willing to revisit your boundaries as you move forward in your relationships.

 

Warmly, 

Tomauro Veasley M.A., MMFT, CLC

 

Tomauro Veasley M.A., MMFT, CLC is an experienced marriage counselor, family therapist and relationship coach, as well as a certified life coach and individual therapist. She specializes in helping you create understanding, purpose and strength in yourself and your relationships in order to promote healing and growth in the most important parts of your life.

Let’s  Talk

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