By MANDY MARKSTEINER
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27 at Ruby K’s Bagel Café, Ishwari Sollohub, a licensed mental health counselor with offices in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, will lead a discussion on how to improve relationships through healthy boundaries.
What does it mean to have “healthy boundaries?” Many people neglect to maintain their personal boundaries because they don’t understand what it means.
Sollohub explained boundaries using an example from her own relationship. “I wanted to do some relationship work using a book,” she said. “I asked if he wanted to do it with me and he agreed. On the night that we planned to go through the book, he really triggered me. He came home and seemed tired and distant and he gave me the impression that he didn’t really want to do the work.”
“I was about to say something, which would probably have caused a fight, but then I realized that he agreed to be here, and to sit in the chair across from me and open the book. That was what he was offering to me. I couldn’t control how he felt and whether or not he truly wanted to be there was none of my business. I had a choice about whether to cross his boundaries and ask probing questions, or to just get on with reading the book together. Those are boundaries.”
Boundaries make it possible for two individuals to be together.
“It’s almost a contradiction,” said Sollohub, who specializes in working with couples. “In our culture we are very individualistic. So when each partner in a couple can take responsibility for his or her well being the better their boundaries are.”
A question that you can ask yourself is, are you comfortable saying no to your partner?
“When a person says yes, but doesn’t mean it, they’re not really available,” Sollohub said. “But if they have the freedom to say no, it’s more honest.”
Here’s an example of what she is talking about. If you are busy doing something, and your partner comes up and asks if you can talk about something, don’t say “Sure, what’s up?” if you’re actually too busy to give him your full attention. Instead say, “Can it wait 10 minutes? I need to finish what I’m doing before I can pay attention to what you’re saying.”
In a healthy relationship, partners are willing to sacrifice for each other, but they’re also willing to disappoint each other.
Maintaining boundaries is a skill and a way of life, Sollohub said. Every day you have choices about how you’re going to interact with your partner. In the short term it’s much easier to give in and choose the thing that you think your partner would approve of, but in the long term doing that creates trouble. Being authentic to how you really feel is the only way to keep your boundaries.
Ruby K’s Community Hours takes place at Ruby K’s Bagel Café, 1789 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos.