Establishing adult to adult boundaries with your siblings and friends is important in making your own family (husband/children) functional and happy.
Why Are These Boundaries Important?
Once you become an adult and get married you will need to balance your time and attention between the different relationships in your life. Your own family (spouse & children) deserve to be your most important relationship. Yet no one should expect you to give up the other important relationships in your life. These relationships include your relationship with your brothers & sisters and close friends.
How Do I Balance My Relationship With My Own Family and My Siblings and Friends?
You balance by establishing boundaries.
Boundaries are the unwritten, but agreed upon rules regarding what behavior is acceptable between the members in a given relationship.
The reality is this: You cannot live your life now as you did before you had a family of your own. Because so, some new boundaries must be set.
Before you were married your brother had a key to your apartment. Neither he, nor you, thought anything about him walking into your locked apartment at anytime of the day or night without knocking. Now, you are married with a child. Is your brother’s behavior still acceptable? If not, a new boundary must be set.
Can your best friends still expect you to go out with them every Friday night like you used to before you were married? These friends are still single and you don’t want to their feelings by saying ‘no’. But you now have a husband and child. You will need to set some new boundaries with your friends that clarify your relationship with them.
These boundary issues must be addressed or they will cause problems in your new family.
Too much time with siblings and old friends can result in your spouse and children feeling neglected. This can lead to acting out behavior on their part. Acting out is an attempt to get your attention – usually through negative behavior.
Neglected spouses sometimes have an affair, and teen children can begin abusing alcohol and drugs to get your attention. Being ignored causes the people you should love most – your spouse and kids - to feel anger, hurt and resentment towards you. Nothing good comes from these kinds of negative behaviors and feelings.
The spouse who is always spending their free time with old friends and siblings needs to get their priorities in order. Being a spouse and a parent REQUIRES sacrifice - but this should be an easy sacrifice to make.
As with all relationships the issue is a matter of balance.
There is nothing wrong with maintaining a close relationship with siblings and friends. Doing so only becomes a problem when you lose your perspective and end up neglecting the most important relationships in your life – your marriage and your children.
God teaches us that our relationships with our siblings and close friends can be beneficial to us. But – God commands that our spouse and children come first. Once you get married and have children your primary commitment should always be to your spouse and children.
Sibling & Friends Boundary Checkup
1. Are there clear boundaries between you and your siblings and friends – boundaries that ensure your spouse and children are first in your life?
2. Do these boundaries work to establish a healthy separation between your role as a spouse/parent and your role as a sibling or friend?
3. If not, what are some things you might do to make the boundaries more clear?
4. Identify the relationships that need changes made.
a) Write out a boundary-setting plan to guide you in the changes that need to be made.
5. In most cases, it is probably best to make changes a step at a time.