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The Best Thing To Do When You or Your Spouse Want or Need More Space

Asking for Time Alone is Okay

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Personal Space
Photo: Sonja Cohen

"I need some space!" So often, this phrase is tossed out without really thinking about what is being said. This can result in unrealistic expectations and hurt feelings by both partners in a marriage. The "space" we are talking about here is not an apartment across town. It is not a cowardly way to say you want out of your marriage. It is time alone, usually at home, sometimes a walk or time at a gym, for just you.

"However much you love your work, you still need a vacation. However much you love your family, you still need some time alone. People tend to feel guilty about taking time for themselves. Perhaps they wouldn't if they realized that doing so gave them more energy to devote to the ones they love."
Source: Steven Slon, AARP Magazine September & October 2007, page 8.

Defining Space

When one of you says you need some space, what type of space are you asking for?
  • Creative space
  • Quiet space
  • Working space
  • Emotional space
  • Fun space
  • Away space
  • Financial space
Dr. Laura Vaz, a psychoanalyst, has stated in an article at Shaadi.com, "Space means accepting the person with his differences. It means not moulding someone into the image that you want to see but to accept that there will be difference and not forcing a change on your partner. Space includes the element of privacy. People want time for themselves."

Vanetta Chapman writes in Christianity Today that "When couples dedicate themselves to allowing each other the space and outside interests they need, they have stronger marriages. According to Dr. James Dobson the one factor that's done more damage to families than any other is 'fatigue and time pressure, which leaves every member of the family exhausted and harried.' One way to avoid that trap of exhaustion is to allow each other some time alone."

Benefits of Having Your Own Space

  • Time for self-realization.
  • Quiet moments to exchange thoughts with yourself.
  • Time to re-energize, regroup, and reconnect.

Recommendations When Discussing Your Need for Space

  • Define what type of space you are needing. Be specific and be honest.

  • Don't wait until you are feeling suffocated or trapped in your marriage to ask for space.

  • Accept that wanting or needing space in your marriage is okay. It doesn't mean that your marriage is in trouble.

  • Let your spouse know that you are still very committed to your marriage and that your needing space or alone time or away time doesn't diminish your love or desire for your mate.

  • If your spouse is asking for some space, don't take it personally.

  • Don't measure or judge your marriage by the way other couples live. Do what is best for the both of you.

How to Give One Another Space

  • If the need requires physical space such as a corner of a room, a desk, a chair, etc., then work together to create this physical space.

  • If the space needed is emotional, then don't chatter on when your mate is reading a book, or has asked for a quiet evening.

  • If the space desired is away space - going fishing, a weekend away at a spa -- time without you or the kids -- then make plans for this type of time away in your budget planning and calendar planning.

  • Financial space can be created by having separate checking accounts for agreed upon monthly allowances.

  • Give one another a day off several times a month and schedule it on your family calendar. This means that the spouse with the day off is free from responsibilities concerning the kids, pets, and the house. Start off with three hours of free time, and work towards more time as you both get used to the idea.

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