Ask Abbie: Husband needs more ‘me’ time with his friends

Published 8:55 am Monday, April 1, 2013

Question: My wife doesn’t understand why or like it when I spend time with my guy friends. She thinks I am choosing them over her but that’s not it at all. I just need “me” time.

How can I get her to see it has nothing to do with her so she will stop trying to keep me from going?

Frustrated husband

Answer: The best way to communicate your needs to your wife depends on her current state of emotional health. Before proceeding, you should honestly search your own past for anything that may be causing your wife to question your intentions for “me” time. For instance, have you ever betrayed her trust? Were you ever unfaithful? If so, accept your wife’s current reactions as normal yet realize with a consistently improved track record on your part the likelihood of gaining an emotionally healthy wife is probable. If you find no potentially problematic areas in your past, you need to consider how your wife reacts anytime she doesn’t get her way; in particular when you tell her you are going out with the guys.

Does she try to control you with a manipulative tactic such as anger, guilt, or bribery? If so, your wife is in poor emotional health and is relying on you for emotional security in order to avoid her fear of loneliness. Maybe your wife smiles and tells you she doesn’t want you to go out with the guys because she loves you and wants to spend more time with you. If so, this behavior indicates your wife is already operating within the realm of healthy emotions and any resistance she displays when you tell her you want to go out with the guys is based solely on her desire to be with you as much as she can in order to strengthen your relationship.

Should you determine your wife to be in poor emotional health, you must first work to establish boundaries between the two of you before any attempt to explain your needs will be effective. Boundaries, unlike physiological defenses, which are unconscious emotional protection mechanisms put into place during childhood that lead to unhealthy and unproductive behavior, are conscious healthy ways to protect ourselves from emotional harm. Learning to work within boundaries forces a person to become, less dependent on others and more on his own spirit for emotional stability. One boundary setting suggestion for your particular case is to make sure for every hour she spends with her friends you get one to spend with yours.

Wen your wife is emotionally healthy, whether it be now or after working within boundaries for a while, begin the “Help My Wife Better Understand” mission by explaining to her how spending time apart gives you opportunity to release your pent up stress away from your family. Make sure she understands if you are able to come home stress free and rejuvenated, you will have more positive energy to give her. In addition, let her know how guy time helps you keep in touch with your male side. This takes concerted effort by men in today’s society where women are becoming more and more independent. If a man’s inherent male characteristics were to become compromised, he would become insecure and less capable of meeting his wife’s needs. She would not want this to happen.

The last key element to consider is respect. When one or both of the partners in a relationship feel they are not getting the respect they deserve, problems ensue.

This is a common occurrence because men feel they deserve respect simply because they are the man while women believe respect should be earned by actions. This difference makes it difficult for one or both of the partners to feel adequately respected. Each is trying to give respect in the way he or she defines it.

Once this discrepancy is understood and accepted, respect can and must always be a two-way street. In order to do so, each partner must swallow his or her own pride and give respect even when there is no apparent reason to do so. This is not an easy task. If you see a concerted effort on your wife’s part, give her an A for effort and be patient. Your relationship report card will thank you.