Should I Be Worried if My Husband Asks for Space?

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marriage…it’s an interesting thing for many reasons. one aspect that intrigues me is that you fall in love with someone, move in with that person and then spend most of your free time together because your spouse is just that good looking. well, that’s why i do it (fiiiiine and he’s fun and smart too).

my husband and i own a business together so we truly spend a ton of time with one another. we work from home so it’s just the two of us for the most part, day in and day out (i’m going to ask my accountant if toilet paper can be an expense because if we worked outside of the home…that would be an expense. this thought came to me at 4:45am this morning. genius.) his love language is physical touch and this usually involves being around me every waking minute.

yesterday, he returned home from a day-long event. i smooched him to welcome him back home and we munched on cheddar cheese sun chips while he told me about his book signing event. after a few minutes of catch up, i sat back down at my laptop in our living room and started working again.

Should I Be Worried if My Husband Asksa few minutes later, he came back to the living room and carefully spoke, “do you think i could have a little time to myself? i just need some space.”

i gave him my one-raised-eybrow-look and said “ummm. why?”

in my head, a percentage of my thoughts included “oh my goodness…why doesn’t he want to be around me when we’ve been apart all day long?! this can’t be a good sign. did i do something wrong? crap. i totally ate all the chips again and he’s pissed because he’s specifically asked me to chill out on my intake of those. this is weird – he usually LOVES being around me.”

outside of my head, i said, “sure. do you want me to hang out in the office and you can be out here? or do you want me to like leaaaave the apartment?”

he said i didn’t have to leave but he just wanted some time to himself. i said i would head downstairs and work in our community room for a few hours because i realized that just because i married an extrovert, doesn’t mean that he wants to be around people, even his wife, all the time.

i flashed back to last year when we were on a 50-city tour around north america putting on workshops together and literally on the road for 4 months straight. a few times i had to ask him if he would sit in the lobby of our hotel for an hour because i just needed quiet in our room. i needed ‘me’ time and to hear only my own breath and be with my own thoughts.

why would he not need that too?

the softly spoken words by my husband asking for time to himself were not a reflection of me not being a good wife or partner. he wasn’t upset with me or annoyed with me. in fact, it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him needing some time to himself in the comfort of our home.

upon reflection of this, i think it’s interesting that my mind immediately jumped to assuming it was something i did wrong and he must be upset with me. it also reminds me that i want to continue to be in a healthy marriage where both of us can be open with what our needs are and respect them.

after about 2 hours, he came downstairs with our dog and we went for our sunset walk. portland rewarded our calorie burning with this:

newlywed advice blog portlandit turns out he just needed some time to sit in silence without the anticipation of me asking him random questions about work or if there were anymore chips (“no chelsea. you ate them all again”), his phone ringing or being around people.

so no, if you or husband ask for some space, i would not be worried and don’t immediately assume the worse. of course, if this is happening all of the time and your spouse never wants to be around you…that’s another story.

as we sat on the bench, both of us in a better state of mind, i realized…

newlywed advice blog chelsea avery

he just needed space and it had nothing to do with me.

please share your thoughts:
1) are you an introvert or extrovert? does this influence your need for time alone?
2) how much time do you spend each day with your spouse?
3) when’s the last time you made the wrong assumption/interpretation of something your spouse said?


  1. Jennifer Haston

    September 29, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Great post ! I agree that its not a cause for concern when your husband asks for space — because framed in another way, any time I go out to do something with a friend or go do something on my own I am “asking” for space.
    1) are you an introvert or extrovert? Extrovert and my husband is an introvert
    does this influence your need for time alone? I do need it and am BAD about asking for it
    2) how much time do you spend each day with your spouse? a few hours-
    3) when’s the last time you made the wrong assumption/interpretation of something your spouse said? oh boy this is something I struggle with on the regular. I will admit his unconditional love and support over the last 6 years has made it a lot easier to assume the best and not the worst but given my upbringing, its a tendency to think oh boy I did something wrong.. and usually it has nothing to do with me.
    Jennifer Haston recently posted…Embrace who you REALLY are…..!

    • chelsea

      September 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      thanks jennifer and great addition that anytime you hang out with friends or do something without your spouse being involved-you’re asking for space. smart lady. ravery was also the same with not asking or taking alone time but everyone needs it!

      i’m glad that you can be conscious of how your upbringing and tendency to think a certain way can inform how you see what your husband may say or do. i think that’s very powerful to know that because i’m in the same boat!

  2. Amanda

    September 29, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I totally get that. Cal and I have both shared that we need a few hours a week totally alone to feel rounded out. Thankfully, those times are built into our schedules – I get my alone time when he has band practice, and he has his when I’m at book club. Although if there’s a week when he has no practice, I get antsy for my alone time, and will just retreat to the bedroom to read by myself. As much as I love being around him, sometimes I just need to dive into a book without ANY distractions. It certainly makes time together again that much more special though. As long as it doesn’t start happening too often, I never worry about that.
    Amanda recently posted…Whole Wheat Pear Muffins {Cooks in the Kitchen}

    • chelsea

      September 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      so glad that you and cal have talked about the need for each of you to have a few hours to yourself, amanda! even better that they are naturally built into your schedule with your other interests (makes me want to join a book club too!) you are so right that when you take that time apart, it makes coming together even better.

  3. Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

    September 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I love this!! I am totally the type that needs alone time. Thank goodness I work from home and Mike leaves the house– those 8.5 hours of just me at home working (or at a lib or coffee shop) are SO important to me. When we both worked in office jobs I never had time to myself and often had to lock myself in our bedroom to get alone time. I felt bad because Mike never needs that, so it was hard to explain why I felt that way! If that ever happens again, I’ll have him read this post… you explain it better than I can 🙂
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted…National Coffee Day!

    • chelsea

      September 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      so glad you can relate to this, ashley! glad you have a system that works now where you can enjoy 8.5 glorious hours to yourself. i was the same when we were both working at other jobs, i literally would have to come home and lock myself in our bedroom for at least 20 minutes before i could even begin to interact.

      ravery rarely needs or wants alone time so that’s why it was shocking to me at first. so yes, please pass on to mike so he can get where you’re coming from 🙂

  4. Lindsay @ The Wife in Training

    September 29, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Girl this is some goooooooood stuff. I’m an extrovert and Andy is in introvert – when we first got married it worried me that he enjoyed some time away from me each day, be it playing video games upstairs or laying on the bed listening to music. Took me a while to realize that’s just him doing him, and in no way means that he was upset with me. As for your mind automatically jumping to the worst conclusion, I’m guilty of that as well. I’ve learned that it’s important to always assume the best about your partner, and those pesky negative thoughts are just trying to cloud your sunshine. Oh, and just to be clear, I’d totally share my Sun Chips with you.

    • chelsea

      September 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      i totally get that lindsay because we were the same way when we first go married-except i was the one doing my own thing! it wasn’t until we talked about our different needs and how it’s not a reflection of the other person (and this was before ‘introvert and extrovert’ became part of pop-culture) did we really understand. YES to always assuming the best about your partner and YES to you sharing your chips with me…that means a lot 🙂

  5. Rachel G

    September 29, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    It sounds like you guys spend plenty of time together with your lifestyles. We’ve never had a lifestyle where we spend excessive amounts of time together…I would find it incredibly weird if Angel verbally asked for “space” or alone time, just because I know him well enough that that wouldn’t really fit with his personality. He does, however, watch Justice League cartoons by himself and knows that I will of my own accord stay away from him and his laptop because I hate Justice League cartoons. I’m not the kind of person who needs alone time, or at least I never feel like I do, but I always seem to get plenty of it, and I don’t usually mind that either. Although when he worked nights and I was in school all day that was not the most fun schedule I could have imagined…that one had excessive alone time for both of us.
    Rachel G recently posted…Art Versus Reality

    • chelsea

      September 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      hah i suppose for some it would be weird to talk so openly about needing space and alone time (and everything else). i guess that’s what you get when you marry a social worker! i love to talk feelings and process things so i definitely introduced that to our relationship 🙂 the hubs is also a communication consultant so we have some serious verbal communication going on! i

      unspoken rules are good to pay attention to and sounds like that involves letting angel watch those justice league cartoons in peace! the whole working nights and with you being in school all day feels like too much alone time- whew.

  6. Karen

    September 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Chelsea.

    I’m an extrovert (in case you didn’t notice), but I need time alone. I love people and talk with them wherever I go (probably am responsible for upsetting lots of introverts who don’t want to be assaulted by a talkative stranger in the freaking grocery store).

    People give me energy. I’ve noticed that I can be dog tired, walk into room of people and all of a sudden I perk up. What happens to me though, is I need lots of time to recharge. Hence, I spend much (if not most) of my free time alone (especially for an extrovert). Maybe this makes me an ambivert? Or an omnivert?

    Who cares. I love the both of you!

    • chelsea

      September 30, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      hi karen. haaa you are indeed extroverted and i would be the introvert in the grocery store who almost has a heart attack when you speak to me (well not YOU really). and the concept of omnivert?! hilarious. i love that.

      i am glad you’ve found what gives you energy and also how you recharge. i think that’s an important thing to be aware of and something i’ve only learned in the last few years. as demonstrated in the blog post-i suppose this also changes too!
      chelsea recently posted…How Lindsay is Living The New Wifestyle in Her Marriage

  7. Natalie

    September 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

    First of all, love that subset photo of the bridge. Good ole PDX did it again!

    Answering questions-
    I am introverted! And so is husband. We bounce back and forth between who is more and who is less. I would say I need more alone-alone-alone time (and I get this for an hour in the morning when he goes to his second job Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays). He gets his alone time by diving into a book and it’s okay if I’m in the room. I best not interrupt tho :).

    We also work together through our primary job- at a church plant. So Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, plus the evenings of Thursdays & Saturdays, we work mostly together. Sometimes we will be meeting with people individually, but in the same coffee shop or office. More day off is Monday. So we spend a lot more time together than most marrieds do! And I love it!!

    Mondays are my favorite. We spend it alone, together. It’s amazkng. We just go with the flow of what our bodies and hearts need.


    • chelsea

      September 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      yay oregon for the win! i’m glad that you have discovered how much alone time is needed for both you and your husband. also important to recognize when not to interrupt those deep in a book 🙂

      i love that you referred to yourselves as ‘marrieds’ hah like some type species. love it. sounds like you’ve found what works great for both of you, natalie!