My Husband Says I’m Too Clingy When I’m Only Trying to Save Our Marriage – Tips and Advice to Help
I sometimes hear from wives whose husbands are telling them that they need some “space” or “distance.” Sometimes, the husband will even take this a step further and tell the wife that he feels as though she’s “smothering” or “suffocating” him, meaning that she’s simply clinging too tightly or not giving him enough independence.
Here’s a concrete example. I heard from a wife who was working very hard to save her marriage. Recently, she had noticed her husband becoming distant and withdrawn. When she approached him about this, he told her that she was over thinking things and that nothing was wrong. Eventually though, he admitted that he thought they might need some time apart because he was not happy with how the marriage was going and wanted some time to “think.”
The wife stayed with friends for a few days, but when she returned she want on a full scale campaign to save the marriage. She was trying very hard to be more attentive, to be a better wife, and to bring out more happiness and contentment in her husband. Unfortunately, this seemed to backfire on her because a few weeks into it, the husband became annoyed and told her that she was “smothering” him, was “too clingy,” and was “hovering too much.”
The wife had no idea what to do. How are you supposed to save a marriage and make things better from a distance? She worried that if she were to just leave him alone, the marriage would eventually fall apart from neglect. I felt there was probably a middle ground here somewhere. I’ll tell you some of the tips that I gave her in the following article.
One Problem Here Was That The Husband Never Really Got His “Space” And Obviously Still Wanted It: The wife had tried to comply when her husband asked for some time away. But, she was only gone for a few days and when she returned, there was no cooling down period. She immediately got to work on saving the marriage. This was obviously a little overwhelming for the husband, who clearly still wanted a little time and distance to clear his head.
Instead, he was getting a wife who was asking that he do just the opposite and this was obviously frustrating to him. The wife’s inclination was to push a little harder, but I felt sure that this was going to be a wrong call. I’ve learned from watching scenarios like this play out countless times that coming on too strongly when your spouse isn’t receptive to this almost always gets you the opposite result than what you were looking for.
As much as it terrified this wife to do so, I thought she was better off giving him the space that he had repeatedly asked for. And, I thought she was absolutely right to be the one to leave. This gives her more control and allows her to at least know that he’s remaining home. So, I suggested that she repeat this process, only this time she would have to realize that she might be gone for more than a few days and she should make the time away work for her rather than against her.
If she wasn’t receptive to doing this, she should at least back off somewhat at home. Clearly, clinging so tightly was just not working at all and if she continued down this path, I was really concerned that her husband was going to begin to withdraw, tune her out, or to block her access to him.
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Backing Off To Gain Some Ground: I truly do understand why wives are so reluctant to take some time away from their marriages or to give their husband’s some “space.” I understand that you’re worried that once he takes this time away, he’s never going to come back to you. But, this doesn’t have to be the case if you play your cards right. And, you have to realize that this is where you are potentially headed anyway at the rate you are going. Sometimes, it just makes sense to change things up and to try something new.
The wife in this case was proposing a big dramatic speech where she told her husband that he didn’t have to worry about her smothering him anymore because she was leaving. This probably wasn’t the best call either. She needed to be very calm and in control when she delivered this message. If she wasn’t able to accomplish this, leaving a detailed note can be a good option.
But, whether you use spoken or written words, the message should be the same. She wanted to convey that the last thing she wanted was for her husband to be unhappy and frustrated. And, it was obvious that her attempts to make things better were doing just that. So, she was going to try giving her husband some more time and distance to see if this might make things better. And, she was going to use the time to work on herself and do her own thinking. Perhaps the next time they came back together, they might get a better result than they were getting right now.
How To Play It When You’re Backing Off And Giving Your Husband Space: I felt pretty sure that the hardest part of this whole thing was going to be for the wife to actually go through with giving her husband the time that he had asked for. I knew that she was going to be very tempted to call, or text, or “just check in” excessively so that she really wasn’t gaining much.
In order for this to work and to work well, she had to show him that she meant what she said and that she was capable of real change. To that end, she needed to occupy herself with other things so we wasn’t tempted to “check in” more than the husband was comfortable with. She didn’t believe me, but I told her that if she gave her husband the opposite behavior of what he was expecting, this was actually going to peak his interest and contribute to him moving toward rather than away from her.
Better still, if she could make sure that he knew that she was going out with friends, participating in things that she actually enjoyed, and shifting her focus from only him to herself, he was likely going to wonder just what had changed and be tempted to investigate for himself.
Do you see what could potentially happen? The husband could go from the reluctant party to the fully invested and participating party. And, this is precisely what the wife needed to happen. Because when you’re the only one who is trying to save the marriage or the only one who is invested in it, you’re at a distinct disadvantage. Backing off to gain some ground is one way to shift the balance so that it is more favorable to you and that you’re more likely to get you what you want.