Read This If She Told You She Needs Space

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What To Do When Your Wife Wants Space In Your Marriage

The first step towards saving your marriage.

By Steve Horsmon

Let me guess.

It didn’t sound quite like this.

Sweetheart, I love you and I don’t want you to think anything is wrong at all because we’re doing great. I just wanted to ask you for a little space this month. I’m feeling overwhelmed and little smothered by everyone and everything that’s going on right now. I just need some time and space to re-energize and reconnect with myself. I hope you understand sweetie. I love the way you support me.

Did I guess correctly?

That would have felt pretty good, would it not?

This article is about the other way husbands hear about the I want space request.

The Words That Make Your Neck Hairs Tingle

The other way husbands learn of their wife’s need for space is a lot less clear. It leaves their neck hairs tingling and their gut a little queasy.

If you’re a husband who is currently in the process of figuring out what the hell “space” means, it may have sounded more like one of these phrases:

I just don’t know how I’m feeling about us and I need some space.

I just don’t feel that connection we used to have and I need time to think about things.

I know I love you but I’m not sure I’m in love with you anymore…and I need some space.

Whenever we’re together all I feel is numbness…and I need space right now to figure things out.

You’re such a good father, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable being romantic with you.

I feel nervous and overwhelmed whenever we’re together and I just need some space!

The reason these words feel like daggers to the heart is because they are full of uncertainty. And there’s nothing you hate more than uncertainty.

You see the unraveling of your marriage right in front of you and you want to take immediate action.  This land of uncertainty is something I call Limbo Land and is enough to make you insane.

After all, you’re an expert problem solver. You’re probably extremely successful at work and all other areas where problems need quick solutions.

But in Limbo Land all your special problem-solving powers are useless. And you may have noticed that while you’re trying really hard, it seems to be having the opposite effect and your wife is becoming more distant.

Am I right again?

The Very First Step You Need to Take

The first step you need to take is simple because it requires zero effort from you.

And it will be the hardest, zero effort step you’ve ever taken. Every man struggles mightily with this step.

That step is to do NOTHING.

No pestering questions. No heavy conversations. No debates or arguments. No pouting or stomping around.


Because the best thing you can do right now is remove the pressure from the situation.

Everything you’re doing right now to fix things is only adding more negative pressure to her and the relationship. Pressuring, controlling and/or needy behavior creates more distrust and trust is the one thing you want more of.

You want to know what “I don’t know” means. You want to know how long before she does know. You want to know what you’ve done and what you can do to make it all better.

You want certainty!

You want to know that the story of your life and marriage you imagined is safely intact. That the happy ending you expected to happen is still going to happen.

You want to know you’re still loved, desired and won’t end up a failure. Rejected. Divorced.But she can’t give you certainty now. Actually, she never could. Certainty is an illusion and your marriage vows, however well-meaning, didn’t provide certainty either.

The current divorce rate is all the proof you need to understand that your marital certainty can be summed up by a coin toss. I know…that hurt a little to hear.

But what if you could start creating your own certainty?

What if you felt more control in the Limbo Land you’re in?

This is the certainty of knowing you’re going to survive and thrive — no matter what happens.

How to Get Out of Limbo Land and Create Your Own Certainty

A client once told me that Limbo Land felt like he was on the upside end of a see-saw. His feet were just dangling and he was powerless. His wife was sitting on the other end — just sitting there  with no clear plan. He had no control of what was going to happen next.

I asked him what would happen if he just swung one leg over the see-saw and simply jumped off. Just a four-foot drop to the ground. What would he do then?

He said, “You can do that?”

Yes, you can.

The problem you’re having now is that you believe the certainty you want lies in her hands. She’s in control of the see-saw.

But relying on her, or any other human being, to provide your certainty is a mistake.

How you respond to this will determine how your next 30 years will go.  It’s time to decide that you are in charge of your life and your own mojo.

Here are six resolutions you need to make right as you jump off the see-saw.

  • I will emerge from this challenge and be proud of who I am and how I responded.
  • I may or may not be married to her for the rest of my life and that’s okay. I will be okay.
  • My marriage does not define my identity, my value or my worthiness.
  • I will use this time for learning how to become the best version of myself — no matter what happens.
  • I will be a positive role model and lead myself and my family through this with patience, honesty, strength, and confidence about my future.
  • I will own the role of defining who I am, what I want and where I’m going in life.

These resolutions will help you adopt a mindset of empowerment and optimism for taking your next steps. They will also help you detach from the unbridled emotion and fear that may be driving you nuts.

That Which Doesn’t Kill You…

They say, “That which doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.”

I know. Screw them.

You didn’t ask for this. This isn’t what was supposed to happen at this point in your life.

But you’ve got two choices.

  • Wither, crumble and die.
  • Stand up, lean in and thrive.

Choice #1 is not an option for you.

This is a time for focus and clear-headed intention  to learn and grow in ways that would have been impossible without this pain.

You can’t run away or around this mess. The only way is to go straight through it. And the way through it is counter-intuitive.

You need to loosen your grip and back away from the fire. Think more and talk less.

When you let go of your need to control the situation you will feel liberated.

And when you stop demanding certainty from her and grasping onto a specific outcome you will start to relax.

This will likely allow your wife to relax as well. But she cannot be your emotional safety net now.

You need strong, loving, initiated brothers in your life to support you. These are men of who have walked through the fire and are thriving. They know the way through this is through deep inner work, personal growth and the will to thrive no matter what happens next.

This is how you learn that your value and happiness is not in the hands of others.

This is how you learn that your security and well-being is already inside you.

This is how you create your own certainty.

The next step is yours to take.

This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.