Sometimes I hear from people who aren’t quite sure how to react to their spouse’s need for “space” after one of them has been unfaithful or had an affair. And, this space can be requested by either spouse. Sometimes it is the cheating spouse who wants or needs space because he is not sure how he wants to proceed or what he really wants after the affair comes to light.
From this spouse, you might hear a comment like, “I know I really hurt my wife by pulling away and asking her for time. But I wouldn’t ask this of her if she didn’t really need it. I don’t want to hurt her more than I already have. But at the same time, I can’t even think without her constantly following me around the house and asking me how I feel and what I want. I have to tell the truth and say that I still don’t know what I want. I don’t know how I feel. And her standing right in front of me and demanding answers only makes it worse. I need her to give me some space.” But when I bring this up, she acts like she thinks I’m going to cheat again. I have no intention of cheating again. I just need a little time to sort things out. But my wife constantly questions my intentions. .”
Other times, the faithful spouse needs space because they just need more time to process this and feel like they can’t really do it properly if they have to constantly look at or interact with their spouse. So, they think that the whole process would be much easier if they could spend a lot more time alone.
From them, you might hear a comment like, “My husband acts like I kicked him out of the house when I caught him cheating. I didn’t. What I did was ask him to give me a couple of weeks alone. I” I never said this was going to be forever. I just need time (without him) to process this. I need some time to be myself and collect my thoughts. Frankly, every time I see my husband right now, I feel anger. I don’t want to feel this angry all the time. It helps me feel more favorable towards my husband when I don’t have to look at him and listen to his questions constantly. Is this so bad? ?”
The Need For Space Is Understandable. But caution should be exercised to avoid misunderstandings: I don’t think it’s too much to ask in either circumstance. I’ve seen firsthand that sometimes a little time after an affair can help defuse the situation. But it is vital that you keep the lines of communication open so that there are no misunderstandings. Explain how it could benefit your marriage in the future. It is also important that you check in and see your spouse regularly. This helps your spouse understand that you are not doing anything in secret and that you are not asking for the space to carry out dishonest acts.
The correct way to ask for space: A suggested script might go something like: “I want to explain to you why I need a little space. I just need a little time to myself to process this and try to figure out what I want to move forward with.” I’m not doing any of this to try to punish you or do anything dishonest. I’m doing this because I feel like I need some time. I feel like if I have uninterrupted time that isn’t influenced by outside sources, I’ll do it. I have a much better chance of coming up with a good decision and strategy for moving forward. I’m not doing this to hurt you or jeopardize our marriage. I’m doing this because I think it will help our marriage. And I want to stay in regular contact during this so neither of us wonders what the other is up to. I want you to be comfortable with this.”
How to respond to a space request: If you are the spouse on the other side of this application, it is important to say how you really feel. If your biggest concern is their loyalty and commitment, then there’s nothing wrong with saying so. You could say something like, “I hear what you’re saying. I understand that space can give both of us time to cool down. My concern is that if you’re not at home reminiscing about our marriage, you’ll question your commitment.” and your infidelity towards me. I am expressing this concern because I want to be completely honest in all aspects of our marriage. So we need to set some boundaries and we need to arrange to meet regularly for peace of mind.”
If you are the spouse taking the spouse, it is very important that you do exactly what you have said. If you are trying to save your marriage, it is vital that your spouse does not have to constantly reassess your motivations or control his actions. Misunderstandings when one of the spouses takes “space” are extremely common. That’s why keeping in touch and communicating frankly and directly is vital.
And make sure you’re actually using the space when you take it. If you tell your spouse that she is taking the space to make a decision about your marriage, then this is exactly what you should do. It’s not often that you have this kind of time and distance to assess, so it makes sense to make the most of it now. Know that your spouse is probably watching you closely. Do not do anything that is dishonest or that is not in line with what you have said to your spouse.
If you are the spouse who didn’t want the spouse, be honest about any reservations or concerns that come up. But try to avoid nagging or letting your insecurities drive your actions. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when your spouse asks for space, especially in light of the affair. But, sometimes it can be beneficial when handled correctly. The key is to make sure you do what you say and stay in close contact with your spouse.