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Discussion Starter #1
I have failed to establish boundaries with my wife. I'm currently trying to explicitly write out exactly what my boundaries are. I plan to eventually share these with my wife so that we are completely on the same page.

Anyway, I'm trying to write out exactly what I expect with her during criticism, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for.

I want her to be able to tell me if I'm doing something wrong, but I also don't want her to say it in a "criticizing" way. I guess what I'm looking for is constructive criticism, but I don't exactly know how to define it. What is the difference between constructive and destructive criticism? How do you all think I should define it in concrete terms?

Also, what boundaries do you have with your spouse?

Thanks in advance
 

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If you both understand that any criticism will be for the good of the other person and your marriage in general, then that's a good place to start.

I am a big believer in the "I feel" rule when it comes to communication. Saying "I feel" before saying something gives it a non accusatory feel and it's much less likely that your partner will get defensive. On the other hand, starting something with "you..." often has the opposite effect.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you both understand that any criticism will be for the good of the other person and your marriage in general, then that's a good place to start.

I am a big believer in the "I feel" rule when it comes to communication. Saying "I feel" before saying something gives it a non accusatory feel and it's much less likely that your partner will get defensive. On the other hand, starting something with "you..." often has the opposite effect.
Haha, I've tried getting her to follow that rule before. It had some problems, though. For example, it just devolved in to an accusatory "I feel that you did X."
 

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Others may have ideas about definitions and boundaries.

My main thought (which I discussed with my wife) is that perhaps the most important issue is how it is said rather than what is said. A gentle, affectionate tone of voice with matching body language goes a long way towards making criticism palatable. If your whole demeanour is saying 'I love you' then what you say is much more likely to be received in a satisfactory way.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Others may have ideas about definitions and boundaries.

My main thought (which I discussed with my wife) is that perhaps the most important issue is how it is said rather than what is said. A gentle, affectionate tone of voice with matching body language goes a long way towards making criticism palatable. If your whole demeanour is saying 'I love you' then what you say is much more likely to be received in a satisfactory way.
I completely agree - that is what I'm looking for. Can you think of a way of saying that in 1-2 sentences, though? I'm trying to find a way to define that exact concept in concrete terms (or at least as close to concrete as possible).
 

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Please don't write her any notes.

If she speaks to you in a disrespectful fashion, say "don't speak to me that way".

You should be open to any criticsim, suggestion or anything at all from her so long is she is delivering it in a respectful way.

Simply, don't tolerate disprespect. However, her opinion that you are wrong is not disrespect.
 

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Don't over complicate simple communication. Avoid things sounding like ultimatums. Say how you want things to be and point out high priority beliefs.

Resolve differences after you've disagreed and left the subject alone for a week or so.

Our boundaries are pretty simple. We don't keep secrets, we are transparent, we avoid having OSF meaning one-on-one time with OSF, girls night out or guys night out would be fine once in a while but we don't really do it much, we don't show disrespect especially in front of people. Just common sense stuff but it helps that we communicate and know how we each think things should be.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Please don't write her any notes.

If she speaks to you in a disrespectful fashion, say "don't speak to me that way".

You should be open to any criticsim, suggestion or anything at all from her so long is she is delivering it in a respectful way.

Simply, don't tolerate disprespect. However, her opinion that you are wrong is not disrespect.
So you don't think I should share it with her? Why not? I trying to ensure that she knows exactly what I consider intolerable behavior. If I figure out exactly what I want and don't tell her, won't it just be really confusing for her?

I also am trying to find the line between being respectful / disrespectful. I can identify what is respectful or disrespectful, but don't really have a clue actually stating what it is.. Maybe I shouldn't even worry about defining it.
 

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Unless she has asked you, I would be real careful about showing her anything I had written down regarding my expectations.

How about you modeling the behavior you would like her to have. Like for instance,

"I feel like you're criticizing me when you say ..."
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Don't over complicate simple communication. Avoid things sounding like ultimatums. Say how you want things to be and point out high priority beliefs.

Resolve differences after you've disagreed and left the subject alone for a week or so.

Our boundaries are pretty simple. We don't keep secrets, we are transparent, we avoid having OSF meaning one-on-one time with OSF, girls night out or guys night out would be fine once in a while but we don't really do it much, we don't show disrespect especially in front of people. Just common sense stuff but it helps that we communicate and know how we each think things should be.
I agree with what you're saying. However the problem lies in our differences in perception. What I consider respectful / disrespectful is never precisely what she considers respectful / disrespectful.

That is a large reason of why I'm trying to explicitly tell her what my measure is, so that she can avoid crossing my lines.
 

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I completely agree - that is what I'm looking for. Can you think of a way of saying that in 1-2 sentences, though? I'm trying to find a way to define that exact concept in concrete terms (or at least as close to concrete as possible).
Say, for example, 'I want you to tell me if there are things I can do better. It is a lot easier for me to change if you tell me gently as I am not trying deliberately to annoy you.' You could then ask her to say things along the lines of 'you know I love you very much (perhaps with an arm around your shoulder) but there is just one thing ( at any one time) which I would really appreciate if you did (differently).

Have you explored the five languages of love?
 

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Unless she has asked you, I would be real careful about showing her anything I had written down regarding my expectations.

How about you modeling the behavior you would like her to have. Like for instance,

"I feel like you're criticizing me when you say ..."
It is actually something that we've done before. For instance, we have written down what each of us expects for household chores. For a while it was really annoying when we both expected the other person to do something and they didn't. To solve that we listed all of the household responsibilities and apportioned them. It has actually worked really well.

So you don't think I should attempt the same approach regarding boundaries? I guess I can see that a written boundary may implicitly accuse her of doing something wrong.. Hmm..

I'm just not completely sure how to make it clear to her. I understand leading by example, but have run in to the problem where I find myself saying "I don't do X to you, why are you doing X to me?"
 

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I'd admit to being more sensitive about certain subjects and go from there.

Ask your spouse to please be gentle when talking to you about those subjects. You respect her opinion highly, but it's more difficult to hear she's displeased with you in any way. That's not to say you don't want to hear it, but let her know you want her to please be gentle with you.
 

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So you don't think I should share it with her? Why not? I trying to ensure that she knows exactly what I consider intolerable behavior. If I figure out exactly what I want and don't tell her, won't it just be really confusing for her?

I also am trying to find the line between being respectful / disrespectful. I can identify what is respectful or disrespectful, but don't really have a clue actually stating what it is.. Maybe I shouldn't even worry about defining it.
I don't know why people have such a dislike of writing things down. At least that way you remember all of your points and you also remember what you talked about later on. Okay it seems official. Who cares.

I think you should try to define what you find disrespectful and why. Start out by knowing it felt that way and then search for why.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'd admit to being more sensitive about certain subjects and go from there.

Ask your spouse to please be gentle when talking to you about those subjects. You respect her opinion highly, but it's more difficult to hear she's displeased with you in any way. That's not to say you don't want to hear it, but let her know you want her to please be gentle with you.
That's a really good way to think of it, thanks.

Now for the kicker, though. Let's say that I explicitly write out these boundaries, should I also prescribe a way that I should respond?

For example, she often complains about my driving. Although sometimes her complaints are justified, many times I feel that they are not. To highlight the behavior that I don't want, let's say the she decides to essentially throw a temper tantrum in the car. In situations like this, I have almost no clue how to respond. Should I actively prescribe a consequence for her acting out? It feels a little too scientific for my liking, but I want to be able to know how I should / should not respond.
 
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