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Why Space Can Be a Gift



I am taking an email vacation until January 6th.  I plan to continue to post and will respond to comments as I am able – you are welcome to comment any time.  But if you can please hold emails for me for a few weeks, I would appreciate it.  Thank you for your patience and understanding!

I grew up as an identical twin.  My sister and I were together almost all the time.  I talked continually with her.  Well… mostly – I did a lot of talking, and she listened.  I was the dominant one, the leader and the main talker.  I also did a lot of talking with my parents when I was younger – and I think I did most of the talking, they did a lot of listening.

To me, being emotionally connected meant me constantly speaking and sharing all of my thoughts.  Every single one of them.  All the time.

 I can remember Greg wanted space early in our marriage and I would get so offended!

– “Space is not a gift!?!?!  Giving space isn’t love!”  It would be easier for me to send 87 emails a day than it would be not to contact Greg at all!

– “Love is talking and being emotionally and spiritually connected.  How does space make my husband happy?  He must not love me like I love him!  If he really loved me, he would want to be with me all the time like I want to be with him all the time!”

I assumed Greg and I had the same needs, the same feelings and the same way of processing our thoughts.  When he needed space, I assumed he hated me.  I assumed evil motives because I didn’t want space so how dare HE want space?  I also assumed wrongly.

I talked with Greg about this issue a few weeks ago.  Here is what he said:

“A husband may need space to think.  If he feels pressured, and his wife is right on top of him (verbally), his brain gets cloudy.  It’s hard for him to know what he thinks.  Then he will feel frustrated at his wife for not being willing to give him the time he needs to process what he is thinking and feeling.”

  • The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I used to read that as, “Talk with Greg all the time because that is what you would want him to do for you.”

But now, I realize that I need to interpret it more like this:

Meet Greg’s particular needs as you would like him to meet your particular needs.

Different people have different needs.  That is not wrong!  It just is.  Maybe your husband doesn’t need space.  Maybe he has another need that is difficult for you to understand.

What legitimate needs does your husband have that you could meet even if you don’t have that particular need?

  • a need for time to think and process highly emotionally charged decisions
  • a need for time to unwind and enjoy his favorite sports game
  • a need to know that his ideas, wisdom, solutions, priorities and opinions are important, too
  • a need to be supported as a dad in front of his children
  • a need to hear about things in more of a summary format instead of hearing about every detail
  • a need to talk more about things and events rather than people and relationships
  • a need to feel appreciated
  • a need to feel desired
  • a need to be affirmed
  • a need to feel respected in certain ways that may not make sense to you
  • a need to be silent sometimes, to not have to talk sometimes
  • a need to bond shoulder-to-shoulder instead of face to face
  • a need to concentrate on what he is doing instead of talking about other things
  • a need to know that you see him as spiritually equal to you instead of you looking at him as if he is spiritually inferior

Enjoy your man and your family.  Might be a great day to start a list of all the things you have to be thankful for.

17 thoughts on “Why Space Can Be a Gift

  1. “To me, being emotionally connected meant me constantly speaking and sharing all of my thoughts. Every single one of them. All the time.” This made me laugh out loud, April! Good one! 🙂

    My husband is my best friend and vice versa so we really enjoy each other’s company. I usually talk and talk and he listens and listens.He is my “shock absorber.” There are days when I would unload and rant about this and that, and cry if need be, and after an hour of endless gabbing… I would see his demeanor change from happy to a bit sad or forlorn… while I would end up so cheerful and happy already! I would then ask him, “What happened? Why are you sad all of a sudden?” To which he would answer, “Because I was not able to find a solution to your problem/s.” To which I’d say, “Huh? I don’t need a solution! I just wanted to talk about it and thank you, because I FEEL SO MUCH LIGHTER!!!” LOL!

    Men are problem solvers. They want to solve our problems with or for us. We talk about our problems, and it frustrates them when they find no solutions at the moment.
    Women on the other hand, are just big talkers. We talk and talk ourselves to death, and even with no solution in sight, just talking our heads off feels wonderful already!!! LOL!

  2. Thank you for this helpful list! I have been pondering and praying through it. There are some things that I have already begun to incorporate into relating to my husband.

    This past week I was downloading a lot of words and emotion at dinner. I heard myself as it was happening. Blah.blah.blah. I did stop myself but had already dumped so much. Have been talking to Jesus about that. Need to process that junk with Jesus first, get out all that frustration, all those many words, and then, if it seems right summarize for husband. Think I have begun to turn a corner and make a change.

    “a need to talk more about things and events rather than people and relationships” I needed to know that. I think I have been guilty of waiting till he finishes his sentence and takes a breath to interject into conversation.. Bring it back to what really matters after his little diversion. Ach! Such arrogance!

    What is “bond shoulder to shoulder instead of face to face”? If I am doing my own thing (reading this blog) and he is watching sports? I get confused because I think we should have an emotional bond going or it doesn’t count, like words I guess. If we are riding in car, not chatting, is that shoulder to shoulder? It feels disconnected to me, like I should bring up something to discuss.. Need some help understanding this please.

    I appreciate you so much April! Words can’t express the beautiful changes already. I am feeling so much more peace already. Love it!

  3. On the flip side of this, some of us aren’t talkers. I, unfortunately, have struggled in my marriage (and all relationships) to allow myself to be open and vulnerable. Sharing opinions and emotions (especially negative or contradictory ones) in my family of origin wasn’t encouraged and now I struggle to do so. Sadly, I have done great damage to my marriage. My husband feels that he does not know me, that I have not allowed him to, and said that he thought for the longest time this was due to something being wrong with him. Now that my eyes have been opened to not only my disrespect to him over the years, but also my poor communication and boundaries (which, in itself, I now realize, is disrespectful), he is so hurt and withdrawn from me, it feels hopeless. I know nothing is hopeless or impossible with God so I am doing my best to trust in His sovereignty to do as He knows is best for our relationship and family.

    1. Cat,
      Yes, sometimes this dynamic is flipped. Then, it is important to stretch toward the other person’s needs even when it is not a need we have. 🙂

      I am praying for you – in Christ nothing is hopeless. You are so precious to me!

        1. Johnmcg,

          Thank you! Yes, that is true. I don’t talk about what husbands “should” do – I only talk to wives – but I hope it is obvious that ideally husbands AND wives would be doing these kinds of things to build and bless their marriages. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, April. You are such a blessing to me countless others. I am so thankful God led me to you.

        I recently read that God brings circumstances into our lives to reveal to us what we are really like so that He can change us. Also, all circumstance that touch our lives are first filtered through His “fingers of love” and He will not allow any suffering to continue one moment longer than He knows is necessary to achieve His purpose for us and His eternal plan (“Lies Women Believe” DeMoss). That was encouraging and reinforced what I already know from Scripture about being thankful, joyful and content in all circumstances. When I think about it, if God is in control, how can I not be thankful, even for that which seems painful at the moment?

  4. It is so amazing to me how I am just learning this issue. . .I have ALWAYS thought he’d want to do EVERYTHING with me. . .why wouldn’t he? I AM PRETTY AWESOME!!!!, RIGHT??

    Lately, it has been sooo obvious that a quiet, gentle husband would need his quiet time. . . . it really gives him strength. . .

    I think you’ve said previously, April, that you had to get to a place for a bit where you didn’t go or do most things unless your God or your husband asked you to. I am there and I think that is SOOOO POWERFUL for us extroverted, busy types to experience!

    And I’m finding much peace in their quiet leadership. . .it’s so much easier than the mess I’ve gotten us into so many times 🙂

    Praise the Lord for my husband who was soooo patient and stayed here & loved me for all these years when I was doing so much so wrong !

    1. Fallen short,

      Yes, I took a lot of big steps back from everyone and everything in my life 5 years ago and just focused all my attention on God and trying to learn what it meant to be a Christian for real, and what a godly woman is and what a godly wife is and what God’s design for marriage is. I stepped down from leading and just waited and waited and waited. I didn’t care how long it took, I was not going to take over again. I didn’t even give Greg any ideas or suggestions for a long time so that the man had a chance to make his own decisions for the first time in his life without me trying to control him. It was good for both of us.

      It was HARD for both of us! I had a tough time being quiet and had to force myself not to step in. But it was good for me to have to be quiet and wait and learn to trust God. Now, I really prize my time alone and time with God and silence. I never did before!

      Yes, there is such peace in our husbands’ quiet leadership and in trusting God. It is amazing! I can’t keep this treasure to myself!! 🙂

      Sounds like our husbands are very alike. Enjoy your man and this beautiful journey with Christ!!!! 🙂

  5. This is one where I have to say the dynamics are flipped in our marriage. My needing space translates to Mark as I don’t want to be around him or that I’m angry with him. That’s never why I need space, sometimes I just don’t want to talk. I spend 9 hours a day in meetings or on conference calls. Sometimes, I just want to hear quite and not talk about anything. For a little period of time. I think he’s starting to understand that somewhat now that I work from home 3 days a week. He gets a view into what I do all day at the office.

    I’m also not a happy morning person. I need like 30 min in the morning to get my good mood on. I need to drink my coffee and wake my brain up. My husband is a spring out of bed and start talking kind of guy. I try to wake up like a half hour before him so that I can get myself in gear..

  6. First I would like to say thank you for your blog. I found it about 2 months ago when I had given up and was already but ready to end my 10 month marriage. I gave up my practice left my family and friends to move to another country with my husband and I have felt so unappreciated and so unloved. I have never given him grief over leaving everything, I never made him feel bad about cooking and cleaning never turned him down intimately. I try so hard to show him he is the King but to no avail. Everything I do comes across as though I am better than him. We are on different levels both education and career wise. I have gotten strange comments and looks when people find out my profession but honestly I have never been the least bit bothered. He reminds me of my dad who I respect so much. I do have many issues but willing to work on them. He has engaged in inappropriate behavior with other women both when dating and since married. I found out about both. We are in counseling and working through the issues but I am so broken and hurt. Now I am just being silent and giving space. I’m actually alone in another room our home now. I cook breakfast lunch and dinner. I take it to him in the other room. He seems so stubborn and most of the time I don’t understand why he can’t see all that I am to him. I am so afraid of space because I think what if I realize I don’t want this. What if the feelings of romance die. I feel my heart closing up inorder to survive and stay together. Do I have to fall out of love and give the idea of a beautiful marriage up inorder to stay married? I feel like if I don’t try to connect or do something it will all die and this is how things will be. I feel so deprived and it feels so unfair that my faithfulness my love and my desires be paid back by unfaithfulness loneliness and no affection. I am so hurt that I walked away from everything and still trying to figure out a new career path or way to use my profession but I will no longer be able to sustain a viable practice until he retires due to the constant moving every few years. I am so proud of him and honestly I wouldn’t think about it at all I just feel like I have no support. I want God’s order for my life so I was so happy to support him. I just want us to be a blessing to others and as long as we are like this we can’t help anybody we can’t help ourselves. I thought I saw so much for our marriage so much good and nothing has been good. I thought we would be inlove. I know I need to check my motives but I feel so hurt and so afraid and so alone. I know you are on vacation I just wanted to write this comment while I had the courage to reach out.

    1. New wife,

      Goodness! This sounds incredibly painful. I am so sorry!! 🙁

      What has happened with other women?

      Is there any infidelity, abuse, addictions or mental illness going on?

      Does he feel intimidated by you? Or like he isn’t good enough or like he doesn’t think you could be happy with his income?

      What was his parents marriage like? What was your parents’ marriage like?

      What does he say he needs?

      Check out the posts about disrespect as respect and biblical submission at the top of my home page, please. Then let’s work through this together.

      I will do my best to point you to Christ!

      Much love and a big hug to you! You can find support here. 🙂

    2. Newwife,

      Just a recommendation from someone who has moved to various countries for work. One thing we figured out was that culture shock is not always recognizable and sometimes desiguises itself as other problems..

      This can manifest in marriage troubles and issues with behavior in kids that is hard to describe. A fellow American overseas that I worked with wrote a manual with her husband on how to prepare for, recognize and deal with culture shock issues. It was really great. You may want to read a couple books on that topic just to rule out or fix any issues that could be related to that under the surface.

      The feelings you describe brought to mind some of the warning signs of experiencing culture shock that i had read years ago.

      Gail W.

      1. Gail,
        thanks for sharing this!

        We had culture shock when our family moved from the Northern USA to the Southern USA. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it might be if the change were to a very different culture and language. Thank you so much!

  7. LOL. That’s true. North, south, east and west is so different… I’ll tell you a quick little funny story about the first move overseas. We moved to Dublin, Ireland and I had like 2 weeks to get me and my daughter who was 10 at the time settled in before work started. Our first trip to the grocery store she was looking all over for Kraft Mac N Cheese. She finally asked a clerk at the store where their mac n cheese was. The lady said sorry we don’t have mac n cheese..

    Angela had these tears building up. She was already mad that we moved and even her passport photo had a scowl that she was stuck with for 5 years. She turned to me and said, “What kind of a mother would move their only child to a country that did not have mac n cheese”.. I said don’t worry your nana will send you some. I turned to the lady and said, “Where’s your Diet Dr. Pepper?”.. She said we don’t have that either.. I was like what??!! We can’t live here it’s like a 3rd world country! LOL..

    Then for 3 years when we would drive around vacationing in Europe we always drove thru Luxemburg because it was small and nothing to see. One time I had to get gas and we went in for drinks at a gas station on the border there. Inside this little store there was kraft mac n cheese and diet dr pepper. We bought it all. The clerk thought we were crazy. He was like you know all the stores have this stuff.. We loaded that car up and went home on the car ferry with months worth of Diet Dr Pepper and Mac N Cheese.

    It’s amazing the stuff you miss. When I go home to WI we get Mrs Grass Soup and Diet Squirt. They just don’t have it here. Now my daughter misses Irish chocolate, fish n chips and Irish Ice cream.

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