The Best Thing You Can Do When Your Partner Says: “ I Need Space”

“Space is exiting the relationship.”

I made this statement in one of my Chatting With Chantel Facebook Live Videos a few months ago and I continue to stand by this.

We were discussing how couples can navigate through rough patches and get back to a happy place in their relationship. We’ve heard this phrase being thrown around a lot in movies and drama series: “I need space.” But they rarely ever get back from that break, don’t they?

Whether you’re married or courting, those three words can be earth-shattering to hear. Your heart plunges and the walls feel like they’re closing in on you. Why? Because your first thought is, “this is it, it’s over.”

But what do you do next? What do you say? How do you react to your partner telling you that he/she has had so much of you or your relationship that they need to take a step back?

One of the main rules of maintaining or building up a healthy relationship is communication. In order to get the best outcome from this situation—whether it makes you feel good or terrible—is to get on the same page. Because if you’re not on the same page about what’s going on, someone is going to be even more hurt.

Ask questions like:

“How much space do you need: an hour to clear your head or a few days?”

“Are we broken up during this break, or are we still in a relationship?” This one is especially important—remember Ross and Rachel? You wouldn’t want to be at home waiting around for a verdict while someone who you thought was your partner is exploring their options.


“Are you moving out during this break?”

“What are we telling the kids?”

Remember, you have a say in this relationship too. So once you’ve asked your questions, I’d suggest that you offer up how you feel about everything. And if you need a moment or even a day to wrap your mind around everything, take it. After your thoughts are gathered, let your partner know how you’re feeling about the arrangement.

If you both feel like you need space from one another, as a therapist, I would recommend that you both you dive into why you believe you need that space. I would not suggest that my couple clients take space from one another because it means taking a step away from one another when your aim is to be closer.

Not to say that all couples who take a break don’t ever find they’re way back to one another, but communication is a much more effective strategy. This is especially true if you’re both bickering, can’t agree on anything, continuously playing the blame game. This is because the understanding in your relationship has been broken and the best way to build this back is to speak, calmly and listen closely.

Here are 4 discussions for you and your partner to discuss to achieve a happier marriage.


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