Confidence Mastery for Couples- Roadmap to a More Intimate Relationship
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Chapter 11- I Need Space- Setting Boundaries
“Sometimes there is more magic in “I miss you” than “I love you.” – Anon
Over the years, I have noticed a lot of power in giving each other space and setting boundaries. I feel these can go hand in hand. Having the strength and communication skills to do so is a big part of getting this puzzle piece to fit correctly.
First, let’s attack the space part, because this often comes up and it can be the elephant in the room that many couples do not address.
- What do you think of when your partner says, “I am going on a boys (or girls) weekend.”?
- How do you make use of your time when the other person is away?
- How often are you checking your phone/emails/texts?
Over the years, I am always surprised at how many couples I meet who have challenges with being separated for periods of time. I don’t mean in this in some lovey-dovey way, but more of a control situation.
When you lack confidence in being apart from each other, i.e. trust or comfort in yourself, it can wreak havoc on a relationship.
There are many ways to dissect this prevalent issue.
- Can’t be alone
- You are downright worried something happened
Let’s have fun covering all three….
I believe I manifested my husband, Ryan. I asked the universe for a husband who was tall with dark curly hair, a big smile, and a hobby. Be careful what you wish for. He matched the physical description and bonus! He even had the hobby….fishing. Granted, fishing is now his business, but at the time we met, it was his hobby. He spent long hours at the river, dam, Lake Michigan, smaller local lakes, basically anywhere he could throw a line on a fishing pole in the water. Like I skipped school as a teenager to go to the mall, he skipped work as an adult to go fishing.
When we first started Good Karma Sportfishing, there were many times I used to think, Is he ever coming home? Do I need to call for help?
I don’t consider myself a worry wort, but I am only human, and this pushed the boundaries of communication. Have you ever been there?
Ryan is one of those determined people. People ask me if I go fishing a lot; actually, they assume I do, and honestly, I don’t. Why? Because there is always “one more spot to try,” and I have to pee!
So, what happens? He is “being Ryan” and forgets to let me know he is staying out late. Not hearing from him can be maddening. Imagine- your husband is on a boat in the ocean, often we have crazy storms that pop up, and he is late. My human brain can easily take over and lead me down a dark path of worry. And I don’t enjoy worrying! It does not feel good, and it’s always my intention to feel good.
We recently had a similar situation in which I thought he was already back at the dock in his car heading home. We live less than 10 minutes from the marina. When it got to be over a half hour later, I started to think to myself, Am I worried, or is he okay? I used my intuition to guide me, and it led me to know he was okay. He indeed was fine. The text he sent me was confusing, and it turned out that he wasn’t back at the dock yet, after all, he was on his way back. Two different things and a time difference of about an hour. Whew!
It’s taken awhile, but we have had some training. Yes, I said it, “training.”
Please call or text me, so know what’s going on! I begged. I don’t enjoy having a minor heart attack, face breakouts, or hair loss wondering where the heck he is. I’ll openly admit that it has taken years of training to push through this and some other things. Call it what you will, but we all have those little things that add up and also are triggers. One of mine, putting the remote control in the holder on the coffee table…I digress.
In addition to worry, many partners are often afraid to be alone. I can understand the fear from the standpoint that I didn’t meet Ryan and get married until I was almost 35. Looking back, 35 isn’t old at all, but we all know most people do have marriage ticker (and some also have a baby clock) going off in their brains. I was one of those people. The excitement to finally “meet the man of my dreams” also caused anxiety regarding “what if I lose him?”. The fear of loss coincides with the lack of confidence that nothing will ever tear you apart. Some partners get over the fear in time; some don’t and may have deeper challenges to overcome.
The good part is that you can overcome your fears when you start to recognize the origin. This is extremely important to remember for all challenges, fears, anxiety, depression, etc. Take time to identify the origin so you can communicate with each other and move forward.
The “origin.” “Eek! The word itself feels heavy, let alone the unpacking. I don’t know about this….”
Learning and understanding the origin of your fear is a significant process. Don’t get caught up in the time needed or judge yourself about the source once you realize. It could be something that brings shame, embarrassment, anger, resentment, etc.; a mix of emotions which many people don’t want to ever discuss. Let things unfold as they should and have compassion- for yourself, your partner, and others involved.
As I mentioned, the origin of my fear was from being single for so long. If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” I would be rich. The thought of that question still makes my blood curdle. My heart goes out to every single person who has to deal with that question, too. When I was a merchant for Victoria’s Secret, I desperately wanted a boyfriend. I talked about finding a boyfriend all the time. I was obsessed.
One day, My VP’s admin told me I should visit her church and I would surely meet my dream man. She was overly passionate and convincing. She had met her husband at this church, so I saw a flicker of hope for me. Her church held service on Sunday evenings and the church was a far drive from my apartment in Columbus, Ohio. It was on the other side of town and over an hour’s drive into the country. I didn’t know where I was going, and back then, GPS, cell phones, etc., did not exist. I kept driving and driving through the dark and the snow. The trek was a bit nutty, but the hope that I would meet the man of my dreams at this church and God would answer my prayers kept me going.
I arrived at what she referred to as a church. I did a double-take and chose to refer to it as a stadium. The place was enormous! They had a live band, not just a piano and a harp, but a full band. TV cameras were everywhere, and the place was jamming! There were so many people; I was overwhelmed and out of my mind, confused about where I was. I had grown up attending a small, white wood Presbyterian church in the hills. I had never seen, nor attended, a church like this church. The pastor even did a segment speaking in tongues!
This huge ass church with lights and glitter (kidding on the glitter) was something else. As the service went on, there was a segment where you turned to your neighbors in the pews and asked them what they were asking from God. A “speak it out loud” moment. The neighborly requests went on for at least 15 minutes. My ask was, To find a boyfriend and fall in love. Everyone else, I kid you not, was, “To get out of debt.” I didn’t return as my intuition told me it wasn’t a good fit. I felt boyfriend material was a bit unlikely. Oh well! Noting ventured, nothing gained, right?
Another huge challenge that can frequently pop up for many couples is the ugly green monster, aka jealousy.
I have to admit; my main competition is fish. My husband’s wedding vows stated, “I don’t know if I can ever love anything more than fishing.” Truth. What the heck?
But, even with the oddity that statement is, we have made it work. A testament that you can always make it work. I knew up front the mindset I was dealing with, right? I FINALLY met someone;, a tall, cute boy with a big smile and a hobby. I had done the work on myself regarding my expectations of what the perfect partner is. I was okay with letting go and understanding compromise. In conjunction, I am an independent woman, so I didn’t need my partner to be with me 24/7. I have learned through the years that I like being alone. Many partners do need, or feel they need, to be with someone all the time. Why? What thought pattern or belief is driving that? Ryan’s desire to go fishing, or even take a nap, was a break for me to have my alone time. Recognizing what you need and then how it relates is an essential step in the relationship journey.
Open communication regarding you and your partner’s desires and intentions takes any misunderstanding or elephants out of the room. It’s on the table. It is then your choice to deal with it, compromise, accept, or walk away. Remember, there is always a choice.
All of these examples circle back to communication, and also laying down boundaries.
In the simplest definition, found on Google, personal boundaries:
“Help you define what you are comfortable with, and how you would like to be treated by others.”
Boundaries are my favorite topic and are life-changing. That’s a fact. Once you get the confidence to have open discussions and communication, boundaries are a natural evolution.
Ask yourself, what you are willing to accept? What’s a “no”? What’s more grey?
When I work with people on boundaries, I have found a few things about boundaries to be true for most people:
- They are people pleasers.
- They hope for the best but know it may work out.
- They lack the confidence to say no.
It’s amazing how often, eventually, the lack of boundaries leads to disappointment and frustration.
How do you see yourself? Are you aware? How have you worked to overcome? Have you communicated your challenge to your partner? And vice versa?
There is a great quote I have heard many times,
“The only people that get upset about you setting boundaries are the people that benefit from you having none.”- Unknown.
Take a second to think about that quote. It’s true, isn’t it? If someone is your friend or meant to be in your life, you can have a positive energy-neutral conversation in which you set or exchange boundaries. It’s very healthy if it’s a conversation and the other person’s point of view is also considered.
Asking Ryan to do a better job communicating about his ETA after a charter is a boundary. It’s a boundary for my health- mentally and physically. It took time to get to a better place, as his limiting belief was that someone (not necessarily me) was trying to control him. Ryan’s belief stemmed from his childhood, as he often stayed out late fishing and his parents would have to come to look for him with flashlights. We communicated and pushed past that belief to arrive at an understanding that helps both parties.
There are always solutions. Believe it or not, things always work out. And they work out for the Greater Good. I hadn’t fully grasped the message with that saying until 2020. It coincides with, “What’s meant to be is meant to be,” which I heard a lot growing up. If you can release the challenge, give it a rest, some thought, prayers, and take out the energy, a solution will appear that is in the best interest of all parties, and things will be okay. Try it…no…better yet…Do it!