This post is part of Multi Family Living Mondays, a series of articles on co-housing and multi-family living.

I have spent the past few posts related to shared housing responding to a few of the concerns that people have shared about living with others.

One category several concerns could be grouped under is boundaries. For example: in-laws blowing your grocery budget, grandparents ignoring your wishes as a parent, housemates stepping on toes & arguing over the ‘right’ way to run your family/part of the household.

Whether the issue is your kids, your family rules, your budget, or your personal time and space, when someone ignores or tramples on your expectations and desires, it feels crappy. This can easily happen, unfortunately, and more often in families than with friends. Usually, the closer you are in time or space, the more opportunity there is for conflict. Because of this, boundaries are a big deal when sharing housing – no matter who you live with. By setting, discussing, and maintaining healthy boundaries you will greatly enhance your ability to live closely with others in a pleasant and beneficial way.

Not all conflicts relate to boundaries, of course, but it is an area to be aware of. And all kinds of conflicts are most effectively resolved by clear, honest, open, thorough, and respectful communication.

When an issue related to boundaries comes up, it might be because someone is deliberately trying to cross a boundary and offend/hurt/disrespect you, or maybe because you haven’t ever identified or expressed appropriate boundaries, or it might be because they didn’t recognize your boundaries, even if you did communicate them, and simply don’t realize the effect their action has had on you.

Some things to consider:
  • Are there boundaries in your life that you can think of?
  • Are there areas in your life (or specific relationships) where you need to consider and set boundaries?
  • Have you ever had to or chosen to clearly express a boundary to someone?
  • Are there areas of conflict in your living situation that might benefit from a discussion of boundaries?
  • Is there a specific area in your life where you feel you need to establish, reinforce, or firmly defend a boundary?

To be honest, I am far from an expert on these so-called ‘boundaries’ and have had to learn (slowly, uncomfortably) the little I know through experience. One book that I’ve heard recommended often is titled, simply, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Again, I haven’t read it yet, but if you are looking for resources, this might help.

What do you think? Did I forget something? Let me know in the comments!


Popular Posts