Is This A Boundary Issue?

My oldest son moved into an apartment with his girlfriend (GF) in September.  I adore his GF, but I don’t feel well equipped to judge the health of a relationship.

My son can be difficult to live with.  He, like me, is a bit of a neat freak, and he gets easily upset when he’s tired.  He’s very sensitive, he needs a solid 8 hours of sleep, and he needs alone time to refuel.  He had difficulty with roommates during college, an issue I skirted by becoming a Resident Assistance which came with a single room.

Add to all this the fact that he has no healthy role model for negotiating relationship issues, and I am concerned.   Fortunately he was receptive to talking about all of this, and he will be the 1st to tell you that this is only 1 year, and his situation can change if necessary.

Last week he was telling me that he was having issues sleeping.   He said he goes to bed dead tired, then lies awake for 3 hours.   We talked about it and it turns out that he has some neighbors who come home after 10:30 and are very noisy.  He knows which nights this is most likely to happen, and those are the nights he has difficulty sleeping.  Now that he’s identified the cause he is chalking it up to a learning experience, which is a great way to look at it.   They have puppies which is part of the noise issue.  I suggested that he have them over for brunch one weekend and…….he finished with “poison the dogs, right? ” Don’t worry – it was a joke and he will not poison the puppies.  He will though suggest they not bring the puppies and perhaps they will hear what he hears.  Maybe not.

Last night he came home for dinner after work and told me about a fight he and his GF are having.  They are splitting rent .  She writes a check to him, he deposits it in his account, then he pays the full amount.  Here’s the issue:  he has to remind her, over and over, that he needs her check.  He said this weekend he lost it because she was reading a magazine & her reminded her, for the 4th time, that he had to pay the rent that day.  She said ok – I’ll write you a check, but she didn’t.  She continued to read her magazine.  He had to freak out to get her check.

Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but this feels to me like a boundary issue.  If I am wrong – tell me, because frankly, I’m worried.  In the early stages of a relationship, 1 person having to freak out to get his needs met seems wrong to me.

Here’s what I told him:

Sit down with her, some time when the rent in not due.  Tell her you get very upset and stressed out having to ask for her rent check.  Let her know that this might not seem like a big deal to her, but it is to him.  Then ask her if they can come up with a solution in which he doesn’t feel like a nag every month.

I also told him that while I am clearly deficient in the boundary department, I do think that healthy couples are able to take a step back, understand when something is bothering their mate, and make steps to change the situation.  I said this is the type of issue that is easily corrected on her part.  If she chooses not to come up with a solution, or she dismisses his dismay, perhaps she’s not what he needs a mate to be.

He spent a life time listening to me complain about an issue, and hearing his dad say “you’re over-reacting”, or “that’s your problem, not mine”.    He knows less about healthy boundaries than I do – a terrifying thought!   It seems to me though, that this is an easy one.  This is one that can easily be solved, and, since there are so many issues in relationships Not easily solved, if she doesn’t address this, it is a clue as to how she will deal with issues in the future.

My question is:  Is this a boundary issue?  I think boundaries are those non-negotiables, and 1 person in a relationship should be able to say “this is serious to me” and have their mate so “oh, ok then; let’s address it”.  Is that how it’s supposed to work?

If you have thoughts I’d love to hear them.  I’d like to guide my children towards a better relationship than I had.



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