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When Greg and his dad transformed our living room into a master bath

When Your Man Needs Space

Greg spent years remodeling our old house – which meant, hundreds of nights of me taking care of our children by myself while he and his dad worked until midnight many nights per week after their full-time jobs. God taught me to be thankful and content during those times rather than resentful and bitter. God also taught me to appreciate that they were doing all of this because they love me and our children dearly. That was quite a sacrifice for both of them – I could bless them by appreciating their hard work and bringing them soft drinks and snacks and by telling them how thankful I was for all that they did for us.

 

Not all husbands need a lot of space. Some husbands want their wives to be right beside them all the time, involved in everything together. Others need some time to themselves to recharge or to work on things. There are many different personality types. Here are two broad categories of personality types (that apply to men and women).

  • Extroverts are people who tend to get energy from being around others, being alone may eventually be draining for them.
  • Introverts are people who tend to be energized by being alone, being with people may eventually be draining to them.

In marriage, often one spouse will be more extroverted and one will be more introverted. So it can be a bit tricky for both people to feel that they are each getting the time they need to be alone and enough time together to connect.

  • Sometimes the more extroverted spouse may feel that the more introverted spouse is being unloving when the introvert wants to spend some time apart.
  • Sometimes the more introverted spouse feels smothered when the more extroverted spouse wants more together time.

What I would like for us to see is that a person with a more introverted personality isn’t being unloving when he/she wants to be alone for awhile, this is a need this person has. If my husband is more introverted than I am, my giving him space can be a blessing and a gift. Also, if a husband has felt very controlled, disrespected, or smothered by his wife, he may need even more time alone than usual to recharge and to feel like he can make his own decisions. And a more extroverted spouse is not trying to be annoying, he/she just loves to be with his/her spouse and feels more energized when they are together a lot. And sometimes extroverted spouses also need and want to have time with friends, as well.

My husband, Greg, is rather introverted. I used to be offended when he wanted time to himself. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept that space could be a gift to anyone. I felt like he wanted me to hate him when he wanted space. I knew that if he gave me space, I would feel very unloved, so how could he want space and love me? Thankfully, I understand now that Greg’s personality is just different from mine. He is not unloving. He just has different needs than I do. Sometimes he is using that time to himself to do things to bless me and our children (house renovations). Sometimes he is using that time to himself to recharge.

I have learned to use the time when I give him space to draw closer to God. Now I LOVE having time to myself, too.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

Let’s apply these verses to ways we can be content in Christ whether we have lots of time, attention, affection, and love from our husbands or whether we feel we are lacking in time, attention, affection, and love from our husbands.

Ways I Could Smother and Repel My Husband:

My husband wants to watch a game, work on a hobby, or work on a project that is important to him.

  • I could get angry and upset with him, demanding that he spend time with me.
  • I could sit beside him and cry about that he is watching a game rather than enjoying my amazing company.
  • I could accuse him of not loving me because he wants to spend some time by himself, not emotionally connecting with me.
  • I could yell at him because he is “such a horrible husband” because his desires are different from mine sometimes.
  • I could resent him and become very bitter that he isn’t spending every possible moment with me.
  • I could destroy any time we actually do have together.

Would these methods draw my husband to me or repel him?

HOW DO YOU GIVE A HUSBAND MORE SPACE?

(Note: I am not talking about situations in this post where there is infidelity going on, addictions to drugs/alcohol, abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, criminal activity, actual abuse, or severe issues. If you are dealing with one of these situations, please seek appropriate help ASAP!)

** Keep in mind, some wives have husbands who want more time with them – these wives will have to focus more on learning to give more of themselves to their husbands and getting by with less time alone. Marriage stretches us and causes us to become more holy as we allow God to work in our hearts. And some wives have extroverted husbands who need space and time to go out with their guy friends, that is a possibility, as well.

Giving space can involve giving physical space, giving time, being quiet, and being emotionally/spiritually tranquil and peaceful myself.

Here is something interesting Greg told me a few years ago, “I always feel connected to you, unless you tell me you don’t feel connected to me.” That has been so helpful to me, and allowed me to rest in Greg’s love for me, realizing that he felt our connection all the time, even when we weren’t together. Hmmm…

If my husband wants to watch a game or work on something that is important to him, I can give him space in several ways:

  • I don’t assume Greg has evil motives or that he doesn’t love me, but simply rest in his love.
  • I understand that he loves sports and that he needs some time to himself.
  • I can focus on a list of things that I admire, respect and appreciate about Greg.
  • I can go somewhere and do something I enjoy – a walk, taking the kids to the zoo, etc…
  • I can be in another room enjoying something for myself – time with God, time with my children, writing, journaling, emailing/blogging, time doing something I like to do.
  • I can be beside him, but mostly quiet during the game, maybe I will talk in a pleasant, friendly way during commercials.
  • I can cuddle with him and make occasional comments about the game, depending on how important the game is to him, making sure that I don’t comment during the plays.
  • I can cuddle with him and close my eyes and rest or read.
  • I don’t have to emotionally cling to my husband, the only one I cling to is Christ – I hope that makes sense, if not, please read the linked post.
  • I can say something encouraging to him like, “This room is going to look amazing when you are done working on it!”
  • I can smile at him, give him a big hug and a kiss, and say, “Okay! Have fun!” Then I can allow him to have time to himself.
  • I don’t have to know exactly when he will be back, unless there is something we have scheduled later. And even if we have something scheduled, I can simply mention that to him in a pleasant tone of voice, and trust that he can figure out how to be back in time for that event.
  • I don’t ask Greg to tell me how long something will take. When men are working on a project, it almost always takes longer than they expect – in my experience, at least. So, I just don’t worry about how long it will be.
  • I don’t constantly text or interrupt him.
  • I can be available if he says he needs my help.
  • I might do something fun with the kids or focus on helping them with homework and getting ready for bed, work on some chores, and then I might have time to myself to pray, read, study, or minister to women online.
  • I welcome him back with a big smile and a hug (unless he is filthy, then I wait to hug him after his shower!)
  • I listen to anything he wants to share about what he worked on.
  • I enjoy whatever time we do have together.

Would these methods draw my husband to me or repel him?

How can I be content when I am giving space? When I am close to Christ, and His Spirit fills me – He gives me His supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, as well as His contentment no matter what my circumstances might be. (Galatians 5:22-23, Philippians 4:12-13)

(If a husband has been feeling very, very smothered and disrespected for a long time, he may need more physical distance for awhile – weeks or months. If a husband resists cuddling, that is okay. If he is alright with you being in the same room, show him that you can be peaceful, friendly, and pleasant in the same room and enjoy being in the same room without smothering him. If he is very tense about you being in the same room, it may be good to give him more space for awhile.)

A HUSBAND’S PERSPECTIVE:

Some husbands have shared with me that if spending time with their wives has been painful in recent (or even not so recent) history, if they feel really disrespected or if their wives get upset a lot, seem disappointed often, and things don’t seem to go well – it can be really difficult for a man to get excited about spending time with his wife.

Ladies, let’s make sure that we are pleasant to be around by showing genuine respect and honor to our husbands, by not demanding things, and by being thankful for what they do give to us.

SHARE:

If your husband needs space sometimes, how do you give him space in a way that blesses him?

If you are a man, what are some ways a wife could give a husband space that he might greatly appreciate?

If you are a wife whose husband wants MORE time with you, how have you learned to give more of yourself?

14 thoughts on “When Your Man Needs Space

  1. I think it’s also important to note that an extroverted husband may still want space, mainly for the purpose of enjoying guy activities….

    I think my husband is a bit of a mix. He’s extroverted BUT he also likes his alone time and is VERY independent… won’t ask his Dad or friends for help in moving something heavy or with a project…. he’s extroverted but likes his alone time, too.

    I just wanted to put that out there because I thought there might be a wife that thought “oh no! My husband is extroverted but still doesn’t want to be with me a lot.”

    I almost think it’s the normal yin/yang of a relationship for a guy… they need a balance of both- time away and time with you. I see this in the marriages of friends and family, too.

  2. I confirm that if a wife has been chronically disrespectful for years, that when she walks into a room with anything but a genuine smile, physiologically it is a heightened level of stress, and I prepare for battle. Especially if I “get caught” doing something I enjoy that she doesn’t consider “helpful” to her. (in my experience it might be a pesky game on my phone, or my absolute favorite is building wooden furniture – a big trigger in my home).

    Space doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you. Sometimes he needs space simply because he’s introverted. Other times he needs space because he doesn’t feel he’s safe around his wife at the time, or sometimes always unsafe. 🙁

    The word “peaceful” in your blog is wonderful, a sense of peace at home would be divine, literally. I hope this didn’t sound like a complaint, but simply more information.

    1. Nothing is more attractive than a happy girl. Can I say that again?
      Nothing is more attractive than a happy girl! Content, happy, and grateful. Contempt and bitterness is ugly and repels. Happiness and gratitude are gorgeous and attractive.
      Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be content and grateful.
      Ladies, you have a power over everyone else’s emotions in the home. I think the old phrase “If Momma aint happy, nobody’s happy,” comes from this truth, and I hope that phrase isn’t demeaning. However it’s so true that if Mom is feeling good, everyone feeds off that and feels loved, respected, and feels freedom to enjoy life. If Mom is not feeling well, everyone is doing their best to 1) Not dig her into a deeper hole, and 2) Help her feel better.
      If your wife is chronically complaining, sad, angry, and contemptuous, please see point #1 above. Goal #1 for everyone in the household is to 1) Not dig her into a deeper hole (damage control). If she’s contemptuous (if you don’t have contempt, this doesn’t apply), I have done extensive studies and discovered that anything that bothers her can (and will) be blamed on the husband. I have also discovered that no man can “make” a woman feel better.
      I’ve gone the long way around to get to this point, but here it is. If a husband knows you’re in a foul mood, (short term or long term, it’s irrelevant), then why wouldn’t he want space? He wants you to sort through your stuff, because he views you as a hot stove, and he doesn’t want to get burned….. again.
      Happiness breeds happiness. When my wife is happy I want to reward her with flowers, hugs, back rubs, family time, chores. When she is sour, I want to RUN AWAY. And that isn’t unique to marriage. Any other person who treats you with contempt, resists your every move, and criticizes you, and is generally mal contented is a turn off. You spend as little time as possible with them. That’s one reason why he might want space besides generally being an introvert.

      1. AnonyMan,

        This is really helpful! Sometimes, I think that we wives may need to have a camera follow us around when we are interacting with our families. It is easy to be stressed and to not even realize that edge in our tone of voice or the lack of cheerfulness in our countenance. I do think if we had to see ourselves on camera, we might understand a bit better why our husbands sometimes want space.

        You are saying almost word for word things that my husband, Greg, has said to me a number of times. Thank you for helping me think through a future post about how godliness with contentment is great gain – and it is so attractive to our men. Then we are a blessing to everyone in the home. Maybe that is why Greg goes so far out of his way for me not to be stressed! 🙂

        Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. My husband and I are both introverts. We like alone time away from others, but not from each other. We, like another commenter said, are looking forward to being empty-nesters. We have really great children and love them dearly! But my husband and I love our alone time together. I guess it helps that our love languages are identical in order – we love quality time and physical touch (with each other -not so much with others), so just sitting together holding hands is wonderful! We are one of the few couples we know who are so similar to each other.

    It is said opposites attract, and I think that would help one become more Christ like and understanding. 🙂 I read somewhere that marriage isn’t meant to make you happy – it’s meant to make you holy. Just want to encourage you all that you are doing a good thing by taking the time to understand your spouse and give them what they need, even if it means putting aside your own desires -dying to the flesh.

    I just wrote a post about how we should be using our earthly marriage to practice for our heavenly marriage. Instead of treating our spouse like a child, treat him as a lord. Then it will be easier to respect him as we should. How would we treat Christ in our marriage? Most of our husbands are serving their families by getting up early to go to work and be able to provide for all of our family’s needs. We should be serving them by providing for their needs – whether that means giving them space, or putting aside our plans to spend time with them.

    I love reading all your encouraging blogs, April. Marriage really is a beautiful blessing when we learn how to die to ourselves and live for Christ. May you all be blessed in your marriages!

    1. Leslie,

      I appreciate you sharing this! I love to hear how different personalities interact in marriage. 🙂 I think that as we grow and mature, even when we started out with opposite personalities, we kind of come toward one another and are able to enjoy things together mutually that maybe we couldn’t earlier in marriage.

      Love your perspective! Thanks so much!

  4. There is a healthy balance of space and closeness. Too much space or too much closeness are both problematic. The tricky thing is that both spouses often have different expectations about how much space and how much closeness is appropriate. It can take time to work through that together to come to a balance that works for both spouses. This particular post was written primarily for wives who don’t want to give any space – who feel that giving space is not ever loving.

    Both spouses do need to work on the marriage! 🙂

    On my blog, I only address wives and what we can do on our end of things. But the awesome thing is that many times, as we focus on our walk with Christ and becoming the women and wives God calls us to be, He often begins to heal the marriage, too, in time.

    Here is a post that addresses the balance of space and closeness.

    And here is a post from a wife who did not want to give any space and who used to believe that giving any space meant a lack of love. Thankfully, as she learned to give her husband space instead of trying to control him – he eventually began to come toward her again.

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