3 Boundaries You Absolutely Need In Your Marriage

Healthy boundaries will protect you from overextending yourself in life. They will also protect the health of your marriage when they’re clearly defined.

Every season of frustration in our own marriage (“season” = many months) can usually be traced back to some issue with boundaries. Usually I’m overworking, or we’re making poor decisions in areas where we haven’t clearly defined our “walls”.

Quickly, let’s consider this verse:

A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

This, and many proverbs like it are all about boundaries… limits… edges that define the difference between wisdom and folly.  This particular passage is especially vivid, as it gives us a glimpse into what life must have been like in Solomon’s day.

Nowadays, castle walls and gates are tourist attractions. Back then, they were critical for survival and societal growth. Without walls, a city was vulnerable to all manner of attack, which was a real and ongoing risk. Surely a city “left without walls” is destined for ruin.

I’m here to confirm that the same is true for your marriage. A marriage without healthy boundaries is destined for ruin.

Boundaries are important for two reasons.

  1. They keep bad things out
  2. They keep good things in

When you stood (or will stand, if you’re not yet married) at the altar on your wedding day, you made a covenant that drew a boundary around the two of you. A wall was built that is meant to protect you from attack, and allow you to flourish within. You agreed that some things would be exclusively within your boundaries (exclusivity and privacy of sex, as one example). You also agreed that some things would be exclusively outside of your boundaries (divorce, for one).

This concept is deep and could take hours to unpack.

For now, here are three tangible ways you can create boundaries that protect your marriage, while also making sure you’re BOTH on the same side of lines drawn:

3 Boundaries to Protect Your Marriage

1) The Time Boundary

A lack of connected, quality time is the #1 issue couple’s face today. It’s ironic, since the world is more “connected” than ever.

You must understand that your time is finite… you have a very limited amount. This means you must draw boundaries to block out wasteful or frivolous uses of it.

Do this by turning off devices and spending quality time together. In 20 years, you won’t remember whatever is on your phone but you will absolutely remember the moments you spent together.

2) The Reconciliation Boundary

You will have arguments and fights, which means you will need to reconcile. Draw boundaries around the reconciliation process by agreeing not to bad-talk each other to friends or coworkers in ways that are destructive.

It’s good to seek counsel and advice, but venting anger to those outside your marriage is never helpful.

Then, WITHIN the boundary of reconciliation, work together to resolve conflict in a biblical way. Talk, repent, forgive, make-up, and move on.

3) The Integrity/Transparency Boundary

Those without transparency live by themselves in a boundary they’ve created. They do this by engaging in wrong behavior and then hiding it (think: explicit websites, spending habits, emotional and physical affairs, eating habits).

The first step toward living with integrity in your marriage is being transparent with each other. Open up the unhealthy boundaries and let your spouse in. If you have a secret other than a surprise gift, etc., then something is wrong.

There are many boundaries we could discuss, but hopefully this will get you thinking.

The first step toward living with integrity in your marriage is being transparent.Click To Tweet

The big idea: there exists an absolute standard

The big idea here is that there are definite things that are bad and good for your marriage; healthy and unhealthy; wise and foolish.

We live in a world where morality is no longer seen as absolute. I’m urging you to reject that lie. Yes, there are cultural norms that are relative; but there are also norms that transcend culture. There are aspects of you, reality, and God that are hardwired and fixed. There is a standard by which we can measure wisdom and folly; right and wrong.

Here’s the kicker: when it comes to right/wrong, you will never be perfect. That’s why Selena and I must rely on the person and work of Christ for right standing before God. It’s an amazing, undeserved gift. Oh, to receive God’s grace and adoption as His own children because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross!

It’s God’s gift of grace that enables us (and anyone who experiences it) to live with any hint of wisdom or righteousness. For that reason, I urge you to place and keep Christ at the center of your marriage. But what does this mean? How can you have a Gospel-centered marriage? That, my friend, is a topic for another post (soon).


  • Can you think of any other healthy boundaries for marriage?
  • What are some other boundaries you have/shouldn’t have in your marriage?

Feel free to answer these questions in the comments below (many will benefit). You may also want to use the questions as a conversation primer with your spouse…


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  • growthtrac

    Selena and Ryan, good stuff — as always.

  • chris

    These are good ones! In our marriage my unhealthy relationships from before marriage, and well into the first year, caused a lot of damage and pain to my spouse’s heart and spirit.

    I come from a dysfunctional family and I never really knew what it meant to protect my wife’s heart. I didn’t know that I needed to put her before anyone else. I had ungodly tie’s to my family of origin with whom I allowed to manipulate and take advantage of me and after getting married my spouse as well.

    I needed to learn to set boundaries and when they were not respected and people made their choices to not change ultimately cut tie’s with those people and places that were destructive and harmful to my marriage and well being.

    I needed to know that Jesus is the Savior, not me.

    The right thing to do was to make the decision to take a stand and protect my marriage and my spouses heart. I am so glad that I did.

    My only regret is that I did not do this sooner.

    Boundaries are SO important and I really like what you say about walls and how it not only keeps things out but also things in. A man told me that good men help good things grow and protect precious things. My marriage is a good thing and God has entrusted me to protect my precious wife’s heart, not hurt it.

    I also really like how you mentioned to remember your time is finite and also that there is an absolute standard.

    There absolutely is and it’s the Word of God.

    Thanks Ryan and Selena for what you do!


  • micheal Davies

    I have been having relationship issues with my wife. I was introduced to a hacker through a friend and am glad everything has been sorted out, the hacker sent me a list of secret messages between her and her secret lover. I normally don’t do this but i promised to recommend him if he let me know if my wife is cheating on me or not but i’m glad he did. You can also try him out, his mail is [email protected] or text me (1) 513 437 0262 just tell him it’s through Micheal

  • Regina

    I absolutely love the way you bring each post back to the gospel.
    In our marriage, we have set some boundaries around communication. One of them is to “hold each other’s pain” when one of us is hurt, angry, or processing conviction. Holding each other’s pain means we listen with empathy and refrain from giving advice or fixing the problem. If words are said at all, it’s to express that we hurt or suffer with each other, as well as to ask gentle questions that lead to gospel.
    Another boundary is to steer very far away from shaming one another for behavior, words, and intentions. We do this by taking time to dig deep into what we are feeling and what we are really responding to, then using the “I feel ___ when you ____” formula. (I.e. Instead of “Wow, you were so selfish tonight when you decided to go out with friends after work without saying anything. Thinking only about #1, huh??”, we could say “I felt really alone and unwanted when you went out with friends without telling me”

  • Katie

    The challenge is that you don’t address how to manage when the boundaries have been broken. How do you begin again?

  • Kate

    Ryan and Selena, thank you! I’d like to ask you a question about boundaries.
    I’ll cut a long story short: Glory to God we have a good marriage I would say. But boundaries(with opposite sex and explicit content) were crossed by husband and trust was shattered. I’m willing to forgive and forget. But often times I get jealous and angry.
    Right now we seems to be doing fine and reconciling, and everything is ok. But husband has a lot of interests and is getting more and more female friends who are sharing his interests and his projects. He is spending more and more time on Facebook chatting. All this stuff is innocent but sometimes drives me mad….

    How do I stop being so jelause? I don’t want to stop him on his way to doing what is interesting for him. I know these studies are important for him. But the fact that most of his companions are not married girls and he is constantly discussing something with them makes me stressed. And actually recently he was sexually attracted to one that he is not chatting with anymore as he wants to protect his heart and our marriage.

    So looks like he is innocent right now but I’m insecure. I thought that may be I should get a male friend and chat with him while he is chatting with them. But I’m afraid to find myself in an emotional affair as the wounds I got were deep and I may try to find solution be getting another man attention to boost my self esteem which was ruined.
    I know I should turn to God instead. I’m praying and I’m trying. But why I am so distressed?
    Right now he is not at home with all the devices and I feel OK. When he comes and I start hearing all those Facebook beeping I’ll be stressed again. He is loving and caring and I seem to be the one with the problem right now.
    Pls help me to understand what is wrong with me,