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Why Space Can Be a Gift

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ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE:
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.

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