How To Set Boundaries With Interfering And Difficult In Laws

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Written By:

Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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What are Boundaries? 

In a relationship, boundaries refer to the guidelines that are established in order to protect someone’s personal space. It can be referred to as informal rules that are set in order to protect one’s peace, emotions and values. When people set boundaries, they are indirectly telling other people how they should be treated. It is very important to respect each other’s boundaries in order to have a trusting and healthy relationship with them. 

Usually boundaries are those instructions that define what someone is comfortable with, what their values are, how they should be treated, what is tolerable and what is not tolerable. In any relationship there are mainly two kinds of boundaries, physical boundaries and emotional boundaries. 

Physical boundaries are those guidelines that define how you want to be touched. It is very important to engage in any form of touch only after consent. Sometimes people have a few extra boundaries regarding their physical space and physical being which must be respected. 

The second kind is emotional boundaries. Emotional boundaries are the guidelines people set for their emotions, feelings, needs and wants. We must not encroach on someone’s emotional boundary if they have specified ways in which they like to communicate or share. Emotional boundaries generally include a need for privacy. 

Why are Boundaries Important? 

Boundaries are extremely important in any kind of relationship. When a relationship has a normal amount of boundaries then the relationship becomes a safe space filled with trust. Relationships are filled with different kinds of people. Naturally, you are going to differ on many aspects. This is why it is important to maintain boundaries so that you can protect your peace and your personal space. 

A relationship is similar to any sport. Let’s take cricket, for example. To play cricket in a fair and fun manner, you must first find a ground that is outlined and then a team of players. If you don’t have boundaries then the game becomes difficult and chaotic.This is how boundaries are important in a relationship. If you don’t state your boundaries firmly in the relationship then it is eventually going to become very suffocating and chaotic. 

What happens if My Boundaries are not Respected? 

When your boundaries are not respected, it can cause a significant amount of stress on your mind, body and your relationship. You might ask, 

How do boundaries break? 

  1. When someone disrespects your personal space. 
  2. When someone invades your privacy. 
  3. When someone ridicules or belittles your values and belief systems.
  4. When someone goes behind your back and does something that can harm you. 
  5. When someone does not understand consent. 

These are some of the things you might experience when your boundaries are broken, 

  1. You feel like someone violated your trust and you grow fearful of trusting someone again. 
  2. You experience feelings of betrayal and disrespect
  3. There is an emotional strain on your relationship. 
  4. You are filled with anxiety and are very apprehensive of the future. 
  5. You experience more conflicts, arguments and fights. 

How can I set Boundaries with Interfering and Difficult In-Laws? 

If you have in-laws who are extremely interfering in your personal matters with yourself and your partner, then you might have to set some strong boundaries. There are a number of things you can do to set strong boundaries with your in-laws, 

  1. Communicate your Needs - 

Before setting strong boundaries, you must communicate these with your in-laws. You must have an open conversation with them and discuss your problems and issues. Many times problems go away when it is brought into the limelight. That’s why it is important to address the issues first.  

  1. Respect their Needs -

Next, be sure to ask them their needs. And be sure to respect their needs. You must be open to listening to their perspective on things and see things from their point of view. Respect is a two-way street. Only when you give respect to someone’s needs, will your needs be respected as well. 

  1. Take your Partner’s Support - 

Since it is your in-laws, it is always advisable to take your partner’s support in matters concerning boundary setting. You should be keeping your partner in the loop over whatever you have decided to do with your in-laws and should be in a position to explain the reason. It will be easier to set the boundaries if you and your partner are on the same page about some things. 

  1. Find a Common Ground - 

Sometimes it is not possible that all our needs or boundaries will be met just like how you cannot meet all the boundaries of your in-laws. In such cases, it is always advisable to discuss together and come to a common ground. Both parties can come to some sort of compromise that is filled with cooperation and understanding. 

  1. Create Family Rituals - 

Sometimes creating boundaries can cause some sort of strain on the relationship. To ensure that the relationship doesn’t go sour, it is helpful to form family rituals with your in-laws. Maybe you can have fortnightly dinners or lunches with them so that you are preserving your support system. 

  1. Seek Professional Help - 

If you find that the above pointers have not helped and you find conflicts emerging between you and your partner, then it is advisable to seek professional help. There are many Family Therapists who can help you and your family regulate these feelings in a better way. 

Remember you are not a bad person for wanting to set boundaries. And this does not have to be a herculean task with us here to help you! 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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