Giving space can be unbearable for you, while your spouse gets used to being without you. Discover why space may not make your spouse miss you and what you can do to promote reconciling.
Absence can make a heart grow fonder. But that is only true for a heart that is fond in the first place. If your spouse no longer loves you, is angry, or resentful, or seriously wants a divorce, then giving space will not help you to reconcile.
On the contrary, giving space will waste valuable time that you could be using to rebuild your relationship. Giving space will only help your spouse to get used to being without you. And after years of unhappiness, that will probably be a pretty welcome thing.
Some good reasons for giving space
In healthy relationships
Sometimes, spouses need to take a time out in order to calm down. Like getting space after a fight. Failure to do so increases stress a lot and would lead to damaging the relationship. In this sense, space is a kind of “time out” for the purpose of preserving a good relationship.
We don’t want to hurt each other, so we take time to cool off. Or we allow our partner time to cool off. In this situation, both spouses look forward to ending the space and being with each other again.
In damaged and separated relationships
Giving space can’t be used to build a relationship. However, it can be important to do to stop more damage from being done. A trial separation is one where couples agree to live separately while continuing to work on their marriage.
An informal separation agreement will also help things to go more smoothly. The couple decides on rules that will help to preserve and protect their relationship. In a trial separation, the relationship remains important to both partners.
Trial separations are necessary when continuing to live together would do more harm than good. That is, if the pace of progress in counseling is not enough to overcome the amount of damage being done at home, then living in different places is necessary to stop the damage. Why being separated while living together won’t help.
A trial separation is not a no contact situation. Although the couple are separated, they come together for counseling and relationship “homework” assignments. If a couple are not working together in any way, then it can’t be considered a trial separation. There are times when a trial separation is not a good choice.
Giving space when your spouse does not want to reconcile
Why spouses ask for space during a separation
There is one main reason that spouses ask for spaceafter they move out. It is when they are feeling pressured by the other spouse to reconcile. Typically the decision to move out was made long before the actual move. Once out, the separating spouse has no desire to work on the marriage. In fact, he or she is actively working to move on toward a new and better future.
If you try, in any way, to get your spouse to reconcile at this time, you will only experience rejection. Not only that, but whenever your spouse receives a phone call or text message from you, it will trigger an automatic “Oh no” response in your spouse, which stresses him or her out. Your spouse will most likely ask for space. Then, if you don’t give it, he or she will stop taking or responding to your messages. No one wants to keep getting stressed out.
Giving space is the lesser of two evils, but it’s still not good
It is far better to give space to your spouse than to be needy. Typical needy behaviors are apologizing, explaining, arguing, and convincing. Are you a needy spouse? If you are, it will decrease your chances of reconciling.
A marriage counselor might recommend you to give your spouse space, especially if he or she believes there is no chance for your marriage. That’s because the counselor would be working to help you to emotionally move on. A counselor’s primary concern is your mental health, not your relationship.
A relationship coach, on the other hand, is a relationship expert who prioritizes reconciling. Coaching would be to help you to re-attract your spouse. You would then work on having secure and connecting behaviors. These are behaviors that help your spouse to enjoy contact rather than be stressed out by it.
A spouse who is not stressed by you won’t need space from you.
Giving space doesn’t hurt or help with reconciling
Giving space is a neutral behavior. It doesn’t really damage your chance of reconciling; it just doesn’t do anything to build your relationship. There is absolutely no way to build a relationship without interaction. This is why I don’t coach people who no longer have any contact with their spouse. The only way to build a relationship is by helping your spouse to enjoy talking and being with you. Giving space does not allow for that.
Questions about Giving Space
“I read somewhere that giving space will make my spouse miss me and be open to working on our marriage. Do you agree with that?”
There is only one case in which I think this would work. That’s if your spouse is not really serious about leaving you in the first place. Men, in particular, need to be aware that there are different reasons why wives separate. If your spouse is separating as a ploy to get you to change your behavior, then giving space may work. This is because it will make your spouse’s plan backfire and she will fear losing you.
This case does not hold for people who are serious about leaving (this is particularly true when you consider why husbands typically separate). When a partner asks for space in this situation, their thoughts will be of their future. They will not be sitting around missing you. They will think of you less and less often as they move on with their life.
This gimmicky strategy, of trying to get a spouse to miss you, is still used by many people. But, like playing the lottery, it only works for a few. If you try it, I don’t recommend you try it too long.
“Do you have any gimmicky strategies to use instead of giving space?”
No. I don’t believe in gimmicks, tricks, lies, or manipulation. Even when these partially work, they end up doing even more damage to relationships. I work on one thing only—rebuilding genuine love through methods that are genuinely loving.
I don’t even believe in giving space if your spouse is using separation as a ploy, although it might work. This is because it wouldn’t actually improve your relationship. Eventually, things would become even worse.
Instead, I recommend working on restoring true love, just as I would if your spouse was serious about leaving you. Without a true loving relationship, you would be looking at either an eventual divorce or perpetual unhappiness. You will also find that friends and family will often want you to do something reactive and unhelpful.
Love is the only satisfying antidote to relationship problems
“My spouse asked me to give him/her space. Shouldn’t I do that?”
If your spouse has asked for space, it is because what you are doing is stressing your spouse out. You are probably being needy, angry, overly solicitous, or trying to convince and persuade. It’s like having a telemarketer continually call you to sell you a product you don’t want.
At first you would be annoyed, but then you would get so stressed that you wouldn’t be able to sleep. Anyone would want space in that situation. Every time that telemarketer called you, you would be more angry and more rejecting to convince him or her to leave you alone.
You would want to make sure you didn’t give that telemarketer any false hope about making a sale. Likewise, if your spouse thinks you just want to sell him or her on reconciling, he or she will be careful not to give you any false hope about the relationship.
“If I don’t give space and I don’t try to convince, then what do I do?”
If you want to reconcile your relationship and your spouse doesn’t, stop trying to convince. That’s similar to trying to convince a person who is not in love with you to marry you. The harder you try, the more the more you would be rejected.
Yet, people do eventually marry others who were not initially in love with them. My wife was not in love with me from the start. I didn’t say, “Oh well, she’s not in love with me so I may as well just move on.”
I attracted her and connected with her, just as you can with your spouse.