5 Ways “Taking Space” Can Aid Your Marriage

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The benefits of taking some time off for one’s self in a relationship. 

“Honey, I think we need to take some space.”

I spoke these words to my ex-husband towards the end of 2008—seven years too late. About a month later, the relationship ended.

Two months into my second marriage, I now see how the power of space is one of the key factors in helping a partnership thrive.

Oftentimes when a partner asks for space, an onslaught of negative thoughts deluges (and deludes) our minds:

Taking space is about staying connected through the distance. Being in your dance of solitude while still celebrating companionship.

S/he doesn’t love me anymore.

S/he is cheating on me.

I’m asking for too much.

I’m too needy.

I’m not attractive.

I’m no fun.

But the truth is taking space is one of the telltale signs of a healthy relationship. It demonstrates trust, interdependency (vs. codependency) and being able to know your own needs, share them with your partner and have them lovingly received.

Taking space is not the same as running away. Running away is cutting the cord of the relationship. It’s a form of emotional disconnection and is the only refuge of those filled with resentment. What’s most needed in those moments is to stay connected, both to your partner and to your own feelings, and to share the backlog of communication you have withheld during your time together (this might take a little while and in the company of a good coach or therapist).

Conversely, taking space is about staying connected through the distance. Being in your dance of solitude while still celebrating companionship. Nurturing yourself so you return to the relationship refreshed and ready to share your bounty.

The following are my top 5 reasons why taking space in a marriage are the keys to saving it.

1. It builds sexual tension.

Ever hear the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” How about “absence makes the cock grow harder?” No matter how smokin’ hot your spouse is, once you see them through the domestic lens of morning breath and dirty dishes, the sexual sizzle starts to wane. But, just a little bit of space creates dynamic tension—the further apart the polar opposites are pulled, the stronger the magnetic attraction builds. Both time and distance stoke that desire. So when the moment to reunite approaches, both partners are typically aching to jump each other’s bones.

2. It helps deepen relationships outside your primary relationship.

“Ever since you got married, we never see you anymore.” So goes the lament of many a best friend when his or her pal ties the knot. Unfortunately for many of us married folk, once we start building the nest, we often find it difficult to leave. Remembering to foster your important relationships outside the marriage is a great way to build community and friendship for when you need an outsider’s perspective. Plus, when people have a strong web of external support, they become less dependent on the marriage for emotional nourishment and relieve spouses of the impossible duty to be their partner’s “everything.”

3. It reconnects you to your own needs and desires.

Most of the time in marriage, partners think in terms of “us.” “Can I afford to take a music class and contribute to our rent?” “Can I go to the museum today or did my partner have other plans in mind for us?” When you take time alone, you get to tap into your own individual desires and flow from there. You start to learn things about yourself that you may not have noticed if you’d had your attention on your partner. Perhaps you become inspired by a piece of artwork and decide to take up painting. Maybe you discover that Ethiopian food is your favorite (since you’ve never tried it because your partner hates it). Having the personal space to reflect on your needs and desires helps you return to the relationship whole, integrated and clear on what you need to ask next from the relationship.

4. Freedom!

Autonomy! It’s “do whatever the hell you want day” because no one is around to stop you! OK, not that anyone can stop you from doing anything really, but in relationship, negotiations are constantly being made. When you have your own space, you can turn up the music, dance in your underwear and eat greasy Chinese food. Or take a tour of a random neighborhood and enjoy the journey without having to check on someone else’s bladder or hunger levels. Knowing that there is space in your relationship for personal freedom builds trust and gratitude towards your partner.

5. It reminds you of why you love your partner.

Space feels pretty cool when you get to do what you want. But then there comes that moment when you want that perfect cup of tea only your partner knows how to make. Or when you ache for the depth of touch only your partner provides. Or when that silly, “inside joke” song comes on the radio and you end up singing it solo. When we feel the absence of the exquisite attention that our partner provides, we appreciate our dearly beloveds and remember why we continuously choose “yes” to the relationship.

 

Image Credit: martinak15/Flickr

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About Candice Holdorf

Candice Holdorf is a writer and sex + life coach specializing in desire, sexuality and Orgasmic Meditation. She frequently contributes to elephantjournal.com and Straight Up Love, as well as maintains her own blog, The Orgasmic Life. For inquiries on her coaching, visit www.candiceholdorfcoaching.com. She is also a California-based actress, former yoga teacher and recovering anorexic who has discovered tremendous power inside of her hunger. Personal site www.candiceholdorf.com. Follow Candice on Twitter @candiceholdorf. Follow The Orgasmic Life on Twitter @theorgasmiclife. Follow Candice on Facebook. Follow The Orgasmic Life on Facebook. She is currently working on her first book, "From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism." Learn more here.

Comments

  1. Kate Bartolotta says:

    I love this, Candice. I think the corollary here is that lack of space will ultimately suffocate pretty much every relationship. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Tom Brechlin says:

    Gosh, thinking back of when my folks were alive, don’t remember my dad or mom having or needing their own space. Sorry, I struggle with this kind of thinking. Sounds cool but what I don’t understand is that a couple of generations ago, people stayed together for a long long time and didn’t need this new age stuff to have successful relationships. But then again, back then people weren’t as narcissistic as they are today … a product of modern society.

    I’ve been married 38 years, I have my man cave and my wife has the rest of the house. Funny thing is that with all this “space” we happiest when we share the common space together. The worst times we’ve had in the past 38 years is when we were apart.

    • I see what you’re saying here, Tom. But I also see another side.

      There are couples who have spent 30-40 together in a simmering state of resentment, judgment, and cynicism because they don’t know how to grow up. They are unhappy and only stay together because of fear of the unknown and fear of affecting the kids. I know this doesn’t apply to you.

      They don’t know how to be different inside themselves or toward each other. I believe in these marriages the only way to change the dynamic is “a little space”. Space and time.

      The part of Candice’s article I really connect with is the need to separate yourself just enough mentally and physically so you can figure out exactly who you are and what you stand for. Who you will be for yourself and as a partner.

      I see young couples and older couples so caught up in reacting to each others’ moods and expectations that they have no sense of themselves and their OWN expectations of their behavior. Space and time, properly used, can help a person become clear on what they have to give to the relationship, how to accept the other without conditions, and how to communicate their needs.

      This stuff happens in a healthy relationship where mutual respect, admiration, and acceptance is the primary value of both people.

      At least half of all relationships are not this lucky.

      Steve

  3. I’m a woman and I know my husband would never write anything on here so I’m going to. All I want to know is, how do you “find” that space? We are currently in that situation, my husband and I. We need space from each other but since we both work at home it’s pretty much impossible and the only time we’re apart is when either of us takes the dog for a 2 hour walk/play session. I really can’t think of a solution and it’s driving me insane because as much as I love my husband and have fun when we’re together, I also need a lot of space, especially since I’m a creative person. All I have is the living room and is the dog or the spouse who walk by every 5 minutes to get something from the kitchen, to play or whatever and it’s getting to the point where I just don’t want him around me anymore! I know I sound horrible but from a male perspective and also, male advice would be very interesting to read, how do you find that space? seriously, I’ve read a lot of articles about this same subject and I totally understand the point but it’s rare to talk about how you actually get to have that space when you live for example in a one bedroom apartment and have no extra room to hide yourself from the world, or when you are confined in your flat because you work from home and the husband does to, or when you just moved to the city and you haven’t made any friends….am I explaining myself here? I hope so. A little help would be nice. Thanks guys.

    M.

    • Hi M.

      Male perspective here.

      I believe the “logistics” of how you find the creative and personal space you need is less important than how your needs are communicated to him.

      If he really understands your desire is NOT to get away from him, but to get closer to yourself (for the both of you), he won’t feel threatened.

      In fact, if he feels loved and appreciated, he can feel motivated to help you get that time for yourself. He can learn that giving you time alone is BETTER for him and your connection (emotional and physical). You need to be sure to pay attention to hat.

      He can start thinking of ways to disappear for awhile. Work somewhere else for a few hours a week.
      What can you GIVE him to make him feel safe and trusting that your needs are for growth, not distance from him.

      How can you lead that conversation with an underlying emotion and energy of love and adoration, but still make your desire for alone time and growth clear?

      I’d avoid using the phrase, “I need space”. It has a long history of being the pre-divorce shot across the bow.

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