So why is giving space important in a relationship? Think back- early in your relationship you were probably stuck to each other. I can remember calling just to hear his voice. Not talking about anything. Basically listening to him breathe.
You say: “What are you doing?”
He says: “Nothing, what are you doing?”
You Say: “Thinking about you…”
Yep, all that cheesy stuff that probably makes you roll your eyes after years in your relationship. Now you’re like “What are you doing.” And in your mind thinking “Trying to get away from you!” No really, it’s probably not that bad (well I sure hope NOT- but if it is, please consider counseling as an option). If you’re like me, you actually miss those days when all you had to do was enjoy each other’s company.
But the point is recognizing that the amount of space and time apart that you may need as a couple changes over time.
The BIG question: Can you handle the change?
Over time, the endless hours on the phone texting and calling and date nights may wane. Especially after you get married. Between work, kids, and the “honey do” list, there is not a lot of time to sit under each other all day. It’s important that both of you have “me” time. And sometimes, couples get frustrated when they don’t have it (or when they have too much of it).
This dynamic is hard to balance. Maybe your spouse works all the time and you don’t get to see them as much as you would like. You don’t have time for date night and you feel lonely most of the time. I know this is sometimes difficult for stay-at-home parents because they are surrounded by kids all day and just want to talk to another adult sometimes! Or you’re spouse is “needy” and they cling to you- they don’t want you to go out with friends or spend time with family. You feel like they are trying to control you, but maybe they just want your time (**sometimes they really are trying to control you- but we can talk about unhealthy relationships later).
So here’s the deal: When you refuse to give them space, they may feel:
Now if your spouse feels this way, it’s not likely that they will be all “lovey dovey” when you need them. It’s better for you that you allow them time to chill. So space in this case would be very healthy.
There are times, however, that we might think that when our partner asks for space, they don’t love us or want to be with us. But that is not always that case… sometimes, they just need a break. And trying to control their personal time is NOT healthy.
10 Reasons your partner may need space:
- To grow (to be independent)
- To heal (maybe they are hurting)
- To detox (just to get away from stress)
- To rejuvenate (relaxation)
- To think (maybe there is a lot on their mind)
- To respond (you don’t want to say something they don’t mean in a heated moment)
- To watch the game in peace (I thought about you guys!)
- To enjoy life (without your influence)
- To spend time with others (positive, supportive others)
- To just be alone (no responsibility, no demands, just to BE)
So giving space is not always a bad thing. It can be good to give your spouse the opportunity to just breathe.
It’s great to give space because it means that you:
- Respect your partner’s needs.
- Want to decrease tension between you.
- May need a timeout yourself.
- Feel your gift (of space) will be reciprocated
Now if they need space ALL THE TIME- that could be a sign of a relationship danger zone. Spending time at the club every weekend, getting drunk every night, sitting in front of the computer or TV all the time, no communication at all- could be an indicator of deeper issues. Talk about it. If things don’t change, consider talking to a counselor- especially if you feel unhappy, unwanted, or undesired.
OK- so back to healthy space. Think of it like a rubber band- you stretch it out, but it pops right back into place- give your partner space, and they will come back stronger. Your relationship must be flexible. Sometimes it needs maintenance- if it gets old and dry (like a rubber band), it may eventually snap. You need to promote elasticity in your relationship by giving your partner what they need.
You also learn to respect your quality time together- it actually means something. In addition- free time can be used for hobbies, personal growth, or building friendships with others.
It’s not healthy to be consumed in your partner. You will lose your identify and may one day wake up and realize “I don’t know who I am anymore.” I’ve seen this happen with numerous couples. They find themselves lost, confused, and unsure of what to do next- which is NOT a good place to be in your marriage.
A mature and healthy relationship should evolve over time. That’s a good thing. If you don’t evolve, you will find yourself stuck in a mediocre, mundane existence where you just go through the motions and nothing changes. It’s important to give yourself and your partner the opportunity to grow… Growth means you are moving forward in your personal life which can also lead to growth in your marriage.
I’m not saying that it is an easy process. But you can make it fun. Don’t sit around waiting for them to come back- enjoy your time as well! Find something that fulfills you in the meantime.
IMPORTANT- don’t just run away. Communicate your need for space. You can even explain why. If your partner respects your decisions, they will understand. And vice versa. If they need space, extend it. It’s OK to enjoy YOURSELF in a strong, healthy relationship. Talk about it, respect it, enjoy it:)