Oftentimes, boundaries are misconstrued as attempts to “put our foot down” in an effort to keep people out of our lives. However, setting clear boundaries allows those in your life to understand your non-negotiables and what you’re willing to put up with. In my experience working as a family lawyer in Monmouth County, New Jersey, I have found that married couples greatly benefit by establishing boundaries early and often. This helps in many ways – including preventing divorce from happening. In addition, functioning as a divorce mediator in New Jersey, I have found that negotiating boundaries with your spouse can help maintain harmony and peace within your marriage. Here are three ways to negotiate boundaries with your spouse, in order to maintain balance and stability within your marriage: 

Personal Privacy

In a marriage, there is nothing wrong with maintaining some level of privacy, but if your spouse has issues with you having some access to things like certain bank accounts, that can be a red flag. It is safe to argue that the inability to share these pertinent details is non-negotiable. While negotiating with your spouse, explain the importance of sharing this information and the impact it has on your household. In order to maintain peace, feel understood, and have your values respected, be mindful of communicating effectively. 

Handling Disagreements 

If you’re not careful, a disagreement could very well turn into an argument that could have been prevented. You should communicate clearly with your spouse and develop healthy ways to handle disagreements. If you don’t tolerate yelling, then make that clear. Perhaps, you prefer to take a 10-minute break to allow your emotions to settle before continuing a conversation. Let your spouse know that as well. Clear, effective communication is always the best way to prevent an argument from happening and allows you and your spouse to have more healthy and constructive disagreements. 

Sharing Information With In-Laws

Regarding your in-laws…it is recommended to speak with your spouse first to determine how much the two of you feel comfortable with sharing certain information with them. Your in-laws don’t need to know details about every disagreement or argument you’ve had. By sharing this information, it could place a strain on your marriage, simply because their input causes tension. Please be mindful of how much (and what) you share with them. Negotiate and communicate with your spouse first. If you and your spouse are not on the same page with sharing personal issues with in-laws, then it should not be taken into further consideration.


This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.