How to Tell if Your Wife Wants Space or a Divorce

How do you tell the difference between a normal request to get some downtime alone and something more serious?

How can you know if she is just tired or if she’s quietly putting her ducks in a row and plotting her departure from the relationship?

I address those questions in the video below, so you’re going to have to watch my ugly mug for the answers.

You need to respond very differently depending on which type of “I need space” problem you’re dealing with.

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The last time I talked about this in my video ‘She Wants Space, huh? Here’s What to do (and not to do) Next‘ I was referring to the run of the mill “I need space” request. That plea means one thing – she just needs time and space to recharge, recommit and reconnect.

We all need that from time to time.

But what about the other kind of “I need space”? The one where something just seems really off. Something smells fishy.

I believe this is a time to step up and into the discomfort.

Whenever there is obvious tension, fear, disrespect and disconnection going on it’s time for truth telling.

And the only way to get to the truth is to lean into the tension and squeeze the discomfort until something pops.

It’s kind of like those big, red, swollen boils you got on your teenage forehead. You gotta prick that boil.

There’s a hot, oozing infection in there and it must be released. The truth must be exposed – sooner than later. It may be nasty, but you must do it.

This is your job. I teach men how to do it with confidence and courage.

Not through fighting, arguing, whining, begging or screaming. That never works. You need to prick the boil like a man. Again, watch the video for more details.

YouTube video

So how do you know the difference between a genuine request for time and space to get her head together versus just buying time so she can plan a divorce or plot her departure?

There is no real clear answer, but I wanted to address it because there are a few subtle signs that I want you to know about.

Normally when a woman is just needing space and time to herself, to recharge, to find her sense of identity, to disconnect with other people and not feel so smothered and to release some of the pressure and responsibility that her environment is causing. She still has a sense of relationship.

When a woman is just needing space for herself and not planning her departure, she still has a sense of identity as a wife and as a lover.

She’s still mostly affectionate. She’s still mostly kind. She’s still mostly attentive. She’s very honest. She’s usually very vulnerable. She’ll tell you things that she’s feeling, ask for your consideration and ask for a little bit of understanding.

A woman can be depressed and otherwise disengaged, but she’s still not planning to leave you, she’s just going through that phase where she just needs to recharge and connect with herself.

And then there’s the other part of this and that is when a woman really is on her way out.

When she’s buying time. When she’s getting all her ducks in a row and planning her departure. Whether or not she has somebody on the side doesn’t matter.

Behavioral changes are pretty obvious. These tend to be indications like consistent disrespect, dismissiveness, eye rolling, avoidance, having serious problems with touch and affection, problems with just the mildest forms of compliments or husband and wife affection.

Avoiding hand holding. Sometimes she’ll pull away from you and give you a scowl that says she’s just disgusted or disappointed in you pursuing her again.

When that kind of activity is going on you can normally bet that it’s just not run-of-the-mill frustration or needing some space. That’s usually a sign that something more serious is going on.

I wanted to bring up the difference here because my advice to a man when a woman is in a normal state of depression or sadness or just wanting some time to herself to stop feeling smothered – his responses to that are very different.

I give advice for how a man can respond to that kind of genuine request for space here.

But if you’re noticing things that are obviously different, obviously unacceptable to you and to the relationship as it normally was. If you’re seeing distain and disrespect and words that seem cutting and biting and insulting and behaviors that seem to be totally out of character for her. You’re going to have to have a different response.

This is not a time to step up the fight. It’s not a time to put the gloves on. But it is a time to step into it. Not away from it. It’s time to put just a little bit of good pressure on.

Maintain your affection. Maintain your good mood. Maintain your proactiveness. Maintain your pursuit of her. Don’t apologize for being in love with the woman that you think you want to be married to.

If she’s pulling that stuff, you’re going to have to push her buttons a little more if she’s going to come clean.

Some guys will start whining and begging and wanting her to tell him what’s going on and have her explain everything.

That’s not going to work. That’ll never work.

But what you do need to do, is move into the discomfort.

If you’re starting to feel in your gut that something is seriously wrong. Don’t do nothing. Move in.

Continue acting as you always did.

Hug her. Initiate sex. See what’s going on.

I call it pricking the boil.

When you know there’s a boil growing, there’s something festering, the infection is getting hotter and redder. You have to prick it.

You have to do something to make it come to a head so you can get to the truth.

When you don’t know the truth and you’re full of uncertainty, aggravation and you’re under a lot of anxiety because you don’t know what’s going on. You have to prick the boil.

But I’m going to teach you not to do it with anger and resentment and little boy whining and pouting and begging and pleading. That is the worst way to prick the boil.

You have to prick the boil like a man.

You have to step up and do it in a way that honors you, your mojo, your calm, cool masculine value.

Do it in a way that pushes her right to the edge to get her to come clean on what she’s thinking.

Not every woman who thinks she’s on her way out is really on her way out. Sometimes they get snarky and disrespectful and dismissive and they are plotting a departure – they think…they’re not totally sure, but they think.

You’ll never know what she’s really thinking. you’ll never be able to have the conversation about what she most needs and what she most feels unless you’re prepared to prick the boil.

If you’re dealing with this in your marriage or relationship, send me an email. I’d like to help you navigate these difficult waters. You can get in touch here.

If you want to learn more about how to take a bigger step toward being a clear-headed, confident man of action, then find out more here. I would be thrilled to help you get there – our first discovery call is always free and always gives you a BIG boost of confidence.

You WILL become a clearer, stronger, more confident man only through other men. Your woman cannot take you there – and she doesn’t WANT to…trust me on that.

My new book Straight Talk Tools for the Desperate Husband will help you to lead yourself and your relationship back to good health. Understand why your partner acts the way she does toward you and learn how to lead your life in the direction you want it to go. You CAN have the relationship you want, fulfilling all your desires while maintaining love and respect.

I wrote a free e-book to help men learn how to lose their fear and be more bold in their marriage to create the love and connection they want. Get The Hard to Swallow Truth About Saving Your Marriage.

Photo Yi.Shi / Flickr

author avatar
Steve Horsmon Certified Professional Men’s Coach
Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life Coach and owner of Goodguys2Greatmen Relationship Coaching in Livermore, Colorado. He has appeared on many television, radio, youtube, and podcast channels discussing the coaching and psychology factors relating to maintaining healthy relationships. Steve provides personal, practical, action oriented coaching services for men through 1-on-1 coaching, private retreats, group coaching and workshops designed to give men new knowledge, skills and the right mindset to achieve their relationship goals. He is a committed, lifelong mentor for men who teaches his clients how to discover their masculine strength so they can confidently take the actions required to create the life and relationships that they really want. With over 10 years experience he has created thousands of videos and articles for well known relationship websites such as The Good Men Project, Medium and the Gottman Institute.
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