I get a lot of correspondence from wives whose husbands have requested “space” or time apart. Understandably, the wives are often reluctant to give the space because they’re worried that once he leaves, he’ll never come back. I often hear comments like “I want to let him have his time, but I’m worried that once he walks out that door, he’ll never come home and our marriage will be over.” Or “I’m afraid that his asking for space really means that he wants out and if I comply with this, I’m really just letting him go without a fight.”
I understand these concerns as I had them in my own life. But, typically refusing to give the space is a worse call than just complying but setting boundaries and setting up the break to help rather than hurt your marriage. I will discuss this more in the following article.
If You Refuse To Give Your Husband Space, You Run The Risk Of Him Taking It Anyway Or Of Making His Already Negative Perceptions Even Worse: Many wives will try to take the strategy of attempting to convince the husband that he really doesn’t need or want the time away. Much of the time, this backfires because in many cases, the second you try to convince someone that they don’t really want something, then suddenly they want it that much more and they begin to wonder what you’re so afraid of.
I know it’s very tempting to endlessly debate this, but if you paint yourself as someone who is an adversary on this topic, suddenly you’ve drawn a line in the sand and you’re on opposing sides. Now, rather than working together with your husband, he potentially sees you as someone who is thwarting a request that could potentially offer some relief to his situation. This would likely only reinforce his suspicion that he might be better off outside of this relationship. If your marriage is already on shaky ground, this isn’t your best case scenario.
Setting Up The Break So That It Helps The Marriage Rather Than Hurts It: One of the biggest mistakes that I see couples make in this situation is that they don’t talk about how the break is going to work or what they want to be accomplished as the result of it. The husband will just sort of leave with an open ended time line with both people assuming that they are just going to “wait and see” how things go.
This strategy can bring about a lot of misunderstandings and missteps. You are often better off defining how this is going to work before the “space” is actually given. And this conversation should happen at a time when you can calmly discuss things before the emotions and the doubt kicks in once the “space” is actually taken. You want to leave things on a positive note and you won’t to both be clear on what’s going to happen.
Also, if possible, you can always offer to be the one to leave or to offer the space within your own home. Perhaps you just stay with friends for a week. Or, he can move to another area of your house where you swear you will not bother him unless he seeks you out. With this alternative, you have much more control over the situation and you don’t have to worry about actually luring him back to the home.
Setting It Up So That He Willingly Wants To Come Back After Taking His Space: As I’ve alluded to, the biggest fear that wives have in this situation is that their husband is never going to come back to them once he gets a taste of having time away. That’s why how you play this situation is absolutely vital to the outcome.
While he’s away, you need for him to begin to miss you and think of you in a positive way. Ultimately, you want for him to realize that he’s happier with you than without you. But, this is less likely to happen if you’re always displaying fear and the worst side of yourself during the break. A woman who worries that she isn’t alluring enough for her husband to want to come home to her is not going to appear as attractive as the one who is confident that she’s meant to be with her husband and that everything will work out.
The thing is, you have more tools than you might know. You already have the knowledge of those things that made your husband fall in love with you and desire you before. You know what he best responds to and you know what he loves (and does not love) about you. Don’t hesitate to use this knowledge. Be careful of what you are allowing him to see and what you are portraying over the break.
You want for him to see a woman who is strong, secure, confident, busy, and coping. (And you want him to know that you too are taking advantage of the break.) You don’t want to be the woman who is constantly calling, laying on the guilt, and begging him to come home. All of these things will bring out negative emotions in him and will make it less likely that he wants to come back and work things out. Always remember what it is that you really want.
I know that giving your husband space can be extremely scary and can feel like a real risk. But, often the real risk is in placing yourself on opposing sides as your husband. When you do this, he usually wants to get away even more. If you can establish some control over what he perceives during the time away, you’ll likely get a much better result and your relationship will be better off than when you try to convince your husband to change his mind and stay because of your fear.