The complaints I hear most often are:
“He just ignores my boundaries.”
“He trespasses right over me and I just feel bullied.”
“I tell him to stop it, but he doesn’t even seem to hear me.”
“I even try yelling and he just says I should stop complaining all the time.”
“It feels like I’m invisible.”
In my first marriage, I tried to tell my husband how to treat me better.
For instance, I’d ask him to please leave gas in the tank, and never leave my car with an empty tank.
I carefully explained how an empty tank can be dangerous for a woman if she gets stranded on the road.
It didn’t seem to matter how many times I told him.
He just didn’t seem to “get” it.
It made me feel ignored and unloved….and very, very frustrated!
I have a friend who tells me she often feels disrespected by her teenage children.
They say negative, and sometimes even mean things to her.
She tries to be “the best” Mom and is very generous with them, but they rarely seem appreciative.
Her teenage children don’t seem grateful for all the efforts she does for them.
She feels hurt and angry at their behavior.
She tells them they’re being rude, and it makes her want to avoid even being around them.
All of these are boundary issues, cases in which boundaries are being trespassed or ignored.
How can you get people to be respectful of your boundaries?
I’ve learned that it starts with respecting yourself and treating yourself well.
In reality, we cannot control other people.
What we can control is ourselves, our actions, and our attitudes.
Instead of telling other people “you” should talk nicer to me, which often sounds like nagging, you can calmly say, “I” want to hear what you have to save, but “I” choose not to listen to disrespect, so let me know when you’re ready to speak respectfully”, then quietly walk out of the room.
Will they immediately shape up?
Probably not, change is difficult for many people.
But will they eventually speak more respectfully? Absolutely!
For example, my friend could stop doing everything for her teenagers (in hopes they’ll love and appreciate her) and instead, allow them to do more for themselves.
For example, when her teenager demands “Mom fix me a snack,” she could say, “Honey, I have provided sandwich fixings so that you can feed yourself whenever you are hungry.”
If you’d like to learn more about how to set and manage your boundaries, join The Academy of Relationship Mastery, we’re focusing on Boundaries this month.
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