I often hear from wives who are devastated by the announcement that their husband needs "space" or "time away" from the marriage. Often the thought of their husband taking time away from them only makes them want to cling even more to ensure that the very thing that their husband has requested does not actually happen.
This is completely understandable. It's normal and common to assume that once he takes time away, he will not want to come back. However, by trying to convince him that having this time is a mistake, or selfish, or silly, you run the risk of having him think that you are opposing him in getting what he wants. Once he perceives this, your job is likely going to be even more difficult. So, in the following article, I will discuss what I firmly believe is the best way to respond to a husband that asks for space or time away to sort out his feelings.
Understanding What He Might Mean When He Says He Wants Space: As wives, we often assume that as soon as our husbands say that want some time away from us, this is the beginning of the end. We dread what we fear is the inevitable – that he is only trying to ease us into the gradual end to our marriage. This is sometimes the reality of the situation, but it's not always the case.
Sometimes, husbands are struggling in other areas of their lives. This might be on a personal or professional level and they can often feel their stress level rising by the day. They sometimes perceive that having some time alone to think (without having to deal with or answer all of your questions or need for reassurances) seems very appealing right now.
Other times, they are at a crossroads in your marriage and know that they won't be able to make a decision that hasn't been influenced by you if they stay. What they often feel that they need (whether this is accurate or not) is some time alone where they aren't having to answer to you, or debate with you, or argue with you, or feel guilty that they are making you so unhappy and fearful right now.
So, when you beg them to stay or argue with them for asking for this time, in a sense you are just falling right into the trap of making this worse. You're already dealing with someone who is obviously conflicted and confused. It makes sense that you will want for him to have the most positive perception of you and the marriage as you can manage right now. That's not going to happen if you oppose or argue with him. Does this mean that you just give him what he wants without any plan of action? No, it absolutely doesn't. You're still going to have a plan, but that plan involves making it appear that you're going along with this because you love him and want for him to be happy. This places you in the best position that's possible.
How To Best Respond When You Husband Keeps Requesting His Space: In the best case scenario, this request for some time away has just started. Sometimes, you can take proactive action by beginning to back off a little bit and by not clinging so much. Sometimes, you can just give him some time alone without his ever having to leave the house for an extended period of time. Or, you can offer to be the one to leave. You have more control over yourself coming back than you do with him coming back.
If this is not possible and he's determined to leave for a while, try to find a time when you can be calm and convincing and tell him in a very loving manner that although this saddens and scares you, that you want for him to be happy and at peace. Stress that if this is what it takes for that to happen, you're willing to give him what he has asked for. If you can, schedule a time when the two of you will "check in." You certainly don't want to nag him or make him feel guilty at "check in." Instead, you are going to use this as an opportunity to make sure that you're not out of sight and out of mind.
Remember when I said that his positive rather than negative perceptions are so important? Well, that is particularly true when he's taking his time apart. Your goal is to have him see that the loving, light hearted, vibrant, and alluring woman that he loved so much that he wanted to marry is still very much present. You want him to come to the conclusion that he still very much wants you in his life. Ultimately, you want for this time away to reveal to him that he's better off remaining married to you and having you in his life than he is in being alone.
To that end, you want to paint very positive portraits of yourself every chance that you get. He must not think that you are at home and are sad, stuck, and incapable. He must know that you're acting because you want for him to be happy, but he must also know that you value your own happiness just as much. You will want to show him that you're carrying on, going out with friends, and doing the things that are going to make you happy as well. This just reads as so much more attractive than the clinging, insecure and needy person who does not want for him to go because she is afraid that ones he does, he will realize that he is better off without her.
A more attractive approach is giving him what he's requested because you respect him, want him to be happy, and are reasonably sure that you can pull this off well enough so that the risk is in opposing him is much greater than letting him have his short term space.
When my husband wanted his space (but I desperately want to save my marriage), I did everything that I could to stop it. I made many mistakes born out of frustration and fear. I delayed, I begged, argued, stalked and engaged, but none of these things worked. Thankfully, I decided to approach things from another angle and this eventually worked. You can read more about which tactics worked and which didn't on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/