I sometimes hear from wives whose husband has left them "because he needs some time to think."   That's pretty much the extent of what he tells the wife. Rarely does he go a little deeper and offer up an explanation as to just what "thinking" actually means. Understandably, the wives are not satisfied with his lack of any logical explanation.

A wife might ask, "what in the world does my husband have to think about?  He told me last week that he's going to move out for a while because he needs 'time to think.'  That's pretty ridiculous to me.  I told him that he could think in any room in our home without my bothering him so why on earth would he need to spend money living in a hotel just to use his brain for thinking?  I asked him what deep thoughts and issues he had to ponder, but was told I 'just wouldn't understand.'  Well, he's right about that.  I don't understand.  If there were things I needed to sort through, I wouldn't leave my spouse to do it.  I feel like he's feeding me a load of garbage.  What do men mean when they tell you they need time to 'think?'  Is this just a nice way of saying that they want out of the marriage?"  I'll try to address these questions in the following article.

When A Husband Tells You That He Needs Time Away To Think, He's Often Going To Think About Your Marriage And What He Wants Out Of His Life: Most of the time when husbands give you the "time to think" line, they are grappling with whether they are happy with their life and their marriage.  If they needed to think about a topic that didn't include you or your marriage, then they wouldn't need to distance themselves from you to ponder it.

So they often suspect (or hope) that being away from you for a while will give them both the literal and emotional distance to come to a conclusion without any influence from you.  If men in this scenario are being honest, they will tell you that they are no longer completely sure about the life path that they are on. They sometimes wonder how they could be happier or more fulfilled and they aren't sure what it is going to take to move them forward.

And it's probably not a coincidence that this often occurs in mid-life or when men have an issue that makes them wonder if they are reaching their potential for happiness.  You'll often hear them say things like "is this all there is?"  Or "I'm not sure if I am leading the life that I was meant to lead."  To be fair, their unhappiness or questions about their life are not your fault.  Sometimes, their issues and struggles don't even have much to do with you.  Some men are pondering their personal achievements or career path.  Others are grappling with family relationships (or relationships with other people who are very close to them.)  So, it's not always correct to assume that a man who wants "time" is going to suddenly file for a divorce or separation once he gets back. (Unfortunately, my husband remained confused. So he did purse a separation. More on that here.)

Some men come back ready to improve their lives and their relationships and others come to believe that their relationships are the problem.  How you end up proceeding is somewhat dictated by what conclusions your husband comes to after he does his heavy thinking.

How To React When Your Husband Is Asking For "Time To Think": How you choose to respond to your husband's request depends on what you want the outcome to be.  Once the wife in the above scenario calmed down, she might decide that she didn't want to alienate or be overly critical of her husband.  Perhaps he'd always been supportive of her and so she may decide that even if she thought the need to "think" was a bit overly dramatic, there was no reason that she couldn't offer him the support and time that he had asked for.

Because she wants to not only save her marriage but to make it as strong as it could possibly be, she may decide to do her own soul searching and thinking while he is away.

One thing that many people do not understand is that anything that you can do to strengthen yourself on an individual basis is going to also strengthen and improve your marriage most of the time.   You have a much greater chance of success if you have two whole and happy people coming to the table rather than one or both people who are dealing with their own personal struggles, projections, or fears.

So to answer the questions posed, men often ask for time to think when they are facing a crossroads in their life and they are struggling with their own personal happiness.  They are often seeking answers as to what is causing their unhappiness and pondering what they can do to fix it.  If you love the man who wants the "time" and you want him to be happy, your best bet is to offer both your support and the time that he has requested.  Because at the end of the day, you want him to come to realize that you are part of the solution rather than the problem.

When my own husband asked for space and time to think, I did not understand these principles and I resisted with everything I had.  I questioned him, debated with him, and tried my best to keep him at home and under my watchful eye.  This tactic quickly backfired and it became quite clear that I either needed to give him time or give him a divorce.  Once I understood this, I was able to come up with a strategy to save my marriage that eventually worked.  You can read more about the strategies that worked and those that didn't on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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