Photo: Universal Pictures /Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
We've all heard a friend-of-a-friend's horror story: She was, um, busy with her husband on the kitchen floor when her key-toting parents walked into her home uninvited. That's an extreme example, sure — but it's as good as any other reason to set boundaries with your parents post-wedding.
Once you wed — or even in the weeks before — it's time to set new boundaries, says John Duffy, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent. Without them, he warns, "parents may unwittingly feel they have carte blanche to interfere in any number of ways, from showing up unannounced, to frequent texting and calling, to commentary on anything from future grandchildren to home décor."
So how do you ask the man and woman who raised you to take a step back? "Like any change in almost any relationship, I suggest offering the good news first: All that is not going to change," says Duffy. "Let your parents know you love them, and you want them to play a role in your life and in your marriage."
Then, it's time to protect your space and time with your new spouse. "Be abundantly clear in what you expect and need," advises Duffy. You can set boundaries to protect yourself from everything from surprise visits to commentary on your relationship. For example, if you need more protected alone time, "say, 'we can talk during the week, but the weekends belong to the two of us,'" Duffy says. "Or, 'let's talk twice a week instead of every day.'"
Finally, don't stress that your new boundaries will be set in stone if they don't feel right two months down the road. "Like any change in boundaries, the conversation may have to be revisited and clarified a number of times over the course of the first year or two of marriage," says Duffy.