Embrace Space


I know a machinist, and I sometimes visit him at his workplace. I like to stop by just to see some machine he’s working on, and he’ll show me the intricate details that are involved. I am amazed at the miniature features that some of these machines can’t function without. One of those features that caught my attention was the placement of spacers on these machines. A spacer is a little unit, kind of like a washer, that is placed in between two particular pieces of metal. Without these spacers, the entire machine could shut down. These tiny pieces are critical to the operation of the entire machine.

As I thought about these spacers and the role they play in machines, I considered how important spacers can be in family life as well. While it’s not an actual object I can point to, it’s recognizing that sometimes in our marriages and families, we need space between each other.

For example, as parents, we need to acknowledge that our married children are their own family unit. If you are constantly putting your nose into your son and daughter-in-law’s business, the situation might get a little stinky. By not giving them space, you could cause a shut down in the relationship. It might help to remember how you felt when you first got married and wanted to establish your own home. You had your own ideas about how to decorate your house, spend your money, and raise your children. Are you giving your adult children the space they need to figure things out on their own? It’s how everyone learns best.

When it comes to your spouse, sometimes a spacer is needed there too. I’m not talking about taking separate vacations, but once in a while you may need to give each other room to breathe. For example, it’s okay to have an interest or hobby that’s separate from your wife. You don’t have to like everything she likes, as long as each of you knows what the other is doing and the interest or hobby doesn’t create too much time apart. It can be healthy to enjoy some things on your own. Don’t feel slighted when your spouse wants a few hours alone. It’s natural and normal for people to need and want time to themselves. Time apart can sometimes breathe fresh air into the relationship.

Children also need space from their parents and siblings. Sometimes, a sleepover at a friend’s house can give children a new perspective. Maybe they’ll come home more appreciative of their own family. When your children are in high school, it’s a good time to start giving them some space. Let them make a few mistakes or experience a few victories as a result of making a few of their own decisions. When they get to college, young adults will need to operate independently. Unfortunately, I often hear stories on the news about parents stepping into their child’s college life by calling school officials when their child doesn’t get the class they wanted or they don’t get the right roommate. Young adults need to work these issues out on their own. They need the space to do so.

Space can be a great remedy when things get a little cramped in a relationship or there are signs of a shut down. When necessary, don’t be afraid to embrace the space.