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Boundaries vs. Privacy in Marriage

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

When people first start dating, their intense love can lead them to feel they have to share everything with each other. Privacy in a marriage, however, can help partners bond with one another and draw closer together, according to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Oprah Radio host. Internal boundaries help spouses maintain their individuality within the marriage while external boundaries help to protect their marriage from influences on the outside that can add strain and stress to a marriage, according to therapist Stephen J. Bretchen, who authored the book "Intrusive Partners - Elusive Mates."

Keeping Passion Alive

Privacy in a marriage isn't about keeping so much from each other that you lead separate lives, advises Boteach, but the right amount of privacy can keep couples from becoming roommates, which is a sure recipe for boredom. Privacy is also not about keeping secrets that breed dishonesty and are damaging to a marriage. An appropriate amount of privacy can create a hint of mystery or allure in a marriage. This helps keep partners attracted to and enticed with one another because they keep a certain level of modesty in their daily lives. This often increases the desire and sexual attraction towards each other, says Boteach.

How Much Privacy?

Each couple has a comfort zone. If one partner feels the other is hiding something, an open, honest conversation is warranted to avoid distrust and tension from forming in the marriage. Boteach advises against snooping as this can cause a breech in trust. Better yet, establish a marital rule against big secrets. While people usually do not desire to check their spouses' emails, cell phones or daily schedules, sharing passwords if a spouse asks for them and sharing daily activities are generally advisable.


Boundaries within a marriage help to build mutual respect. They can help a couple to work together, because boundaries create a sense of safety and comfort, which is essential to partners wishing to divulge their likes and dislikes. With appropriate boundaries in place, partners don't feel the need to pressure or push one another to do something that is off-limits. Open, honest communication leads to a genuine connection as each partner feels heard. For example, one spouse may desire to purchase a new vehicle but the other feels it's better to wait. After discussion and compromise, they decide to put off the decision for another six months. A team effort keeps the marriage balanced as one spouse can be stronger in one area than another.

United Front

Boundaries that a couple builds around the marriage resemble an imaginary swinging door that allows for friends, family and colleagues to come and go in an appropriate manner, according to the established rules. This prevents resentment from building within the marriage when one partner infringed upon. For example, if a husband's family has a habit of stopping by unexpectedly on Sunday morning and his wife dislikes it, the couple needs to discuss the issue and find a compromise, followed by the husband setting appropriate boundaries with his family of origin. Another example involves how much the couple agrees to share about their marriage with others. This can help guard against emotional affairs or venting problems to others that should be discussed at home.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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