I sometimes hear from people who have come to understand that it's often best to comply with their spouse's request for "space." Often, the last thing that they want is a separation or a break. But often after some time, it has become obvious that nothing else is going to satisfy their spouse. Because the more they try to talk him out of his wanting space or to try to make him content with the way that things are, the more he seems to want some freedom from you and the less happy he seems to be.

Days, Weeks, Or Months?: Even as this reality begins to sink in, you are often left wondering just how patient and accommodating you're going to need to be. So often, people leave comments on my blog asking how long they are going to wait to give their spouse his space or his time. They often ask if we are talking about days, weeks, or even several months. It's very hard to ask someone to be patient when it is their lives and their marriages at stake. I understand wanting to know specifics because no one wants to leave their own marriage open-ended. No one wants to be left wondering for how long they are going to be alone.

Common comments in this situation are things like: "my husband has asked for a trial separation for about six months. I tried to talk him out of it with every argument I could think of but nothing worked. After a while, I couldn't deny reality. It became pretty clear that I was either going to have to back away for a bit or risk giving up my husband altogether. So I let him move out. But honestly, it hasn't helped. He's very distant from me. He seems to resent it if I call him. If I so much as hesitantly start to ask what he's thinking, he gets very defensive. He may as well be saying, 'don't call me, I'll call you.' I hear about all of these wives who eventually lure their husbands back home by giving him space and I am left asking myself how they do it and how long it takes. How much more time am I supposed to give him? Are we talking about weeks? Or months? Because even getting through the days is very difficult for me."

I truly do wish that I could look into a crystal ball and tell you exactly how long it's going to be before or until you begin to see a shift in your husband. Because of my own experience, I know how heartbreaking and nerve-wracking it is to think that you simply can't take the waiting for very much longer. I know that having patience in this situation is nearly impossible. But I also know that sometimes, your panicking over the timeframe can actually make the time seem to go more slowly. Often, the antsier you get and the more you pressure him, the more time you may be facing.

The Amount Of Time Needed For The "Space" Varies Dramatically: The short answer is that for some couples, it could be mere days before the reluctant spouse decides that he has overreacted. For others, it may take several weeks, several months, or even longer. There is no one size fits all for every couple. It often depends upon what issues caused the separation in the first place and how the separation is progressing now. It is in your best interest to try to appear to be supportive of your husband and to try to keep as busy as you need to be to keep yourself from dwelling or applying the pressure.

 Your Actions And Behaviors Can Impact The Time Frame: Additionally, anything that you can do to be playful, upbeat and positive can dramatically shorten the time frame of his needed space, at least in my experience. Because as soon as he begins to believe that he is better off (and will be happier) in your presence instead of outside of it, then this is going to motivate him to come home and declare that enough time has passed and that enough space has been offered.

But, alternatively, if you are giving him more of the same conflict and are making him feel guilty for leaving and pointing out what has deteriorated for you since he's been gone, then what incentive does he really have to come back? How enticing does returning to more of the same sound to most people?

Instead, you must allow him to see that he has something improved, fresh, and new to come back to. People need space because what is in their immediate vicinity is confusing, stifling, emotionally draining, or painful. But if you can instead convince him that the environment and the home have changed or improved, then he will no longer have the need for distance. He will want to move toward you instead of away from you.

Improvements Are Vital. But Any Changes Or Improvements Must Be Authentic: Of course, the real trick in all of this is convincing him of real change in a very genuine and authentic way. The very worst thing that you can do is pretend that there is change when there is anything but. Because then you will have a husband come home to nothing real. And that same husband will likely leave again and be very reluctant to ever return. So you must be sure that any change that you attempt or claim you make is something that is real and sustainable.

That's why I find that it's beneficial to actually take your own time to work on yourself. The best thing that both of you can do when you are apart is to work on yourselves as individuals. Because you become a couple again, you are two stronger individuals who are going to make a stronger couple. Don't claim what isn't true or it will all come out disastrously in the end. The best thing that you can do while having patience with him is to use that time to improve yourself, your relationship skills, and your situation.

Stay busy.  Make a list of productive tasks each day and stick to this.  You may have to force yourself, but that is so much better than sitting at home depressed and impatient.  So while I can not tell you how long you will have to be patient, I can tell you that sometimes, the less pressure you apply and the more improvements you can facilitate, the less time you will have to endure. But in the end, it really is up to you as to how patient you will want to be. Some will decide that their spouse isn't invested in trying to save the marriage. Or they'll determine that waiting anymore isn't something that they are interested in. And others, like myself feel that they will wait for as long as it takes to get their spouse to come home.

I always felt very clear that I was going to be patient for as long was necessary for my husband to change his mind.  This wasn't always easy.  But it was what was required.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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