The Right and Wrong Way To Give Your Spouse Space
I received a comment on the blog recently of a wife who was asking about giving her husband space. To be honest, I think she was hurt by the fact that her husband needed space at all, which I can understand. I remember being in a place in my own relationships where I felt like I was losing my grasp on the one I cared for and felt like we needed to make things better, hash out all our feelings, and clear the air right then and there.
Being married for a little while now, I understand that that’s really not always the best thing to do. Sure, they say don’t go to bed while you’re still angry. But sometimes, husbands and wives just need some space!
That being said, there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways (productive and hurtful, if you will) to get space away from a spouse. Let’s talk about those.
Getting space right after a fight
Ok, I have a confession. I’m guilty of this. Not in the, “I just need a few minutes to cool off” way, but the “Let’s just forget this and pretend it didn’t happen” way. Sometimes, I can be lazy. And sometimes I really really don’t want to get in a fight or even a discussion because I know that it’s going to involve me saying sorry or changing something that I’m used to doing. I’d often much prefer for us to just not talk for a while, forget what we were mad about, and have things go back to the way they were. That’s usually easier than apologies or change.
However, Josh has brought up to me on several occasions that he hates when I do this. Because in getting space, I actually get to avoid apologizing altogether. And when I avoid apologizing, I get to avoid being wrong. I could be wrong here, but I often feel as though men and women have been programmed to apologize differently. I feel as though men have been raised to keep their mouths shut and just say they’re sorry as soon as possible. Women haven’t been raised hearing this and usually, in my opinion and experience, usually feel like if they argue enough or explain themselves enough, that it warrants getting out of an apology.
Raise your hand if that’s you (If you are, you’re not alone, I’m raising my hand too).
Sometimes, getting a short amount of space during or after a fight have be helpful when you’re preparing yourself (preparing your heart) to reconcile with your spouse. If the only reason you want space is to just get away and stop fighting, then it’s not going to be healthy for your relationship.
Key takeaway here: use this type of “space” wisely.
On to our next kind of space…
When you just need some time to yourself
This is where I think the commenter’s situation comes in:
If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you probably know that no matter how hectic life may be, it usually ends up falling into some sort of a routine. Part of that routine involves spending time with your spouse. Which is great! I think more and more these days, husbands and wives are spending less quality time together. But anyone eventually is going to need a little time away from the routine, which, not as unfortunate as you might think, means time away from you too.
Now, it might feel rather offensive to be thought of as part of a routine. But strong and healthy marriages have husbands and wives that support each other, make each other feel safe, and even have a healthy level of dependence. So being a part of a “routine” isn’t a horrible thing and it doesn’t mean that your days have to look the same. Go on adventures! Try something new. But be dependable and reliable.
That said, as much as you may feel like you and your hubs complete each other (also read Why My Husband Was Never The One) it’s more than healthy that each of you should get a little time away from each other and spend time with uplifting friends. If either of a husband or wives time is spend complaining with friends, then no, that in no way is going to help your marriage and I don’t consider it “blowing off steam.” If a husband or wife spends time with his or her friends and complains the whole time, do you think those friends will try to encourage them in their marriage and let their friend honestly know when they were in the wrong? Heck no! Sadly, more often than not, many friends will tell us what we want to hear, even if they understand that we were in the wrong (if we were, in fact, in the wrong) because telling a friend that they were wrong after they just vented is really hard. If you can find a friend who values the strength of your marriage and, keep them close. They’ll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
My point being, time spent away from a spouse that is fun, encouraging, and/or constructive is great! Time spent away from a spouse in order to gossip, complain, or get ammo for fights that you didn’t think of yourself, is going to hurt you, your spouse, and your marriage.
When should a husband and wife get some space?
The answer to this question is pretty simple and should be way less scary than the word “space” seems.”
The answer is: before they need it.
Getting a morning or evening away can be a great way to get some fresh air, press a reset button, get a new perspective from a healthy friendship, and feel encouraged! Besides that, spending some time away from each other will also give you the opportunity to miss each other! It might even feel a little weird being out with friends without the other person and it may leave both of you appreciating the other more. You’ll also have something to talk about when you are together again, so there’s always that.
If you’re a wife who’s struggling with letting your husband have some time away, I want you to ask yourself why. Could it be that you don’t like the fact that he might need a little time away from you or do you not trust the people that your husband might be spending time with?
If that’s the case, like I mentioned earlier, it’s important that both a husband and wife have friends that value your marriage. While I know Josh isn’t really the complaining type, if he did, I know his friends wouldn’t be cool with it and they would try to encourage him and pray for our marriage. If you don’t believe that your husband’s friends will encourage him in your marriage (if it comes to that) I would consider having an open and honest conversation about that, while making it clear that you understand his need to have a little time away. If that last part isn’t made clear, it’ll only seem as though you are more desperate to keep him home which will probably end up backfiring anyway.
Here’s a tip. If you sense that your husband could use a reset or a break from the routine, why not suggest that he get some time away. Saying something like, “How is SoAndSo doing recently? You haven’t hung out with him in a while. Why don’t you guys grab dinner sometime and catch up?”
See, letting your spouse have some space shouldn’t be a cause for worry in your relationship. Instead, it can be a healthy reset that helps you and your spouse appreciate each other more.
What are your thoughts? How has giving your spouse space helped your marriage and what are your ideas for healthy ways to give and get some space? Leave your comments below and share with a friend who needs to read!