Maintaining Boundaries


Some people yell. Others withdraw or shut down. But some need to vent and tell others when they fight with their partner. This can have severe and long-term negative effects on the relationship.

Often, arguments and different communication styles can conjure up feelings that lead to an explosive argument. When you and your partner are angry, you deal with your emotions differently. It's not uncommon that you may be speaking on the phone with your parents or family members and share about a fight you just had with your partner. In that moment, you want their support and need to express your anger and frustration. But, what happens after the heat of the argument has passed?

When you and your partner are passed the argument, you may have already shared too much negative information about your partner. This creates more problems with your partner. It will take a lot of effort to undo the damage.

Your family and friends now have subjective feelings about your partner because they are only hearing one side of the story. Your family's loyalty is going to blind them from seeing or understanding the context objectively. And, when you were opening up to them, you may have been too angry and unaware of your own contribution to the argument.

This undoubtedly causes resentment and trust issues as your partner may feel disrespected and that their privacy has been violated. Family members are also feeling angry and having negative feelings about your partner. Eventually, you and your partner work through the argument, but your partner isn't reconciling or sharing their side of the fight with your family. As a result, there is contention on both sides and it's hard for your partner to maintain a healthy relationship with your family members.

You are your partner need to establish boundaries and remember that you are a team. There needs to be an agreement that you will both protect each other and the relationship. Assure each other that protecting the privacy of the relationship is the priority. You are committed to each other and can work through the conflict privately, and in a healthy way.

The best way to handle conflict is make sure you are only and always communicating with your partner directly. Agree to take a time out if you are too angry and then reunite when you are both feeling calm to talk about the emotions related to the misunderstanding and/or argument. Make sure when communicating with your partner only, you don't have to solve the problems, just process each subjective experience and work through the emotions.

For further inquiries:

Check out Rachel Moheban-Wachtel, LCSW, at

Phone: (917) 273-8836