Where To Set Your Post-Divorce Boundaries.
We hear a lot about boundaries these days, especially when we talk about separation and divorce. Why is that?
The way I like to describe it is that boundaries serve two purposes:
- To protect you from external threats.
- To provide you with the freedom of a safer space.
When you’ve set appropriate boundaries, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident. And you’ll find that your life and relationships flow with a bit more ease.
When I work with clients who need to set better boundaries, there are a few key areas that we focus on. As you consider your own situation, it may be helpful to think about these aspects of your own life as well.
Physical Space. If you’re officially no longer sharing a home with your ex, it might be time to secure your fortress (so to speak). Consider changing the locks if you’re still in the marital home. You might also explore options for a new security system (or change the codes on the one you have). Within your home, it’s equally important to ensure you have your own private space. If you have children or roommates, you can discuss rules that honor private time in the bathroom or behind a closed door. Perhaps it would be useful to enact “quiet hours” at night and into the morning.
Digital Space. So long as you and your ex are not legally sharing accounts, it’s a good idea to change the passwords and security questions used for online access. Additionally, check the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Be mindful of what you post and who can see it. If you’re in the middle of a contentious court battle, it is extremely important to be vigilant about how you present yourself and what you post online.
Financial Accounts. Financial freedom is wonderful, and financial protection enhances that freedom. Depending on your personal spending habits and potential concerns, it might be helpful to create alerts for your bank accounts, lower your credit card limits, and/or sign up for credit report monitoring.
Personal Relationships. Divorce changes everything, especially when it comes to your relationships. Not everyone will be on your side, not everyone understands, and not everyone wants to “play nice.” And for these reasons, your personal boundaries become an imperative component in maintaining your sense of security and sanity. Start by creating an “inner circle” for yourself. This circle should be comprised of the individuals whom you trust and who are committed to helping you adhere to your values and reach your goals. Think of these people as having special security clearance to offer you support and strategy when it comes to dealing with your divorce. Then you can begin to consider levels of clearance for those outside your inner circle. Coming to such conclusions might involve some trial and error, but don’t be afraid to be firm as you determine and enforce your personal boundaries. It’s OK to realize that certain topics are off-limits with certain people. It’s OK to decide that you simply won’t discuss extra-stressful issues after 8pm. It’s OK to disconnect a call or to tell someone, “if you’re not going to treat me with respect, I will not reward you with my attention.”
As you grow through and beyond your divorce process, it’s important to occasionally reflect on your boundaries to see what’s working, not working, and may no longer be necessary. For instance, the day might come when you are once again comfortable with your ex having a key to your home. Or a rough patch might have you creating more distance between yourself and a once-trusted family member.
Remember that your self-awareness is the root of your personal power. When you’re in touch with yourself, you have a better sense of what’s best for you. Honor yourself by setting healthy boundaries for your own protection as well as your freedom.