In the best case, a couple is a unit, a team or a symbiosis. Together, they manage any emerging crisis according to the motto: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. But what we should not forget is that a couple still consists of two individuals. Between children, work and household tasks, the partner sometimes fades into the background. Especially in long-term relationships it requires more and more strength and energy. We talked to the couple therapist Mrs. Otto and wanted to know what the reasons are and how to avoid living apart.
Mrs. Otto, what does the expression “growing apart” actually mean?
When one or both partners feel increasingly less connected, they often ask themselves the question: What do we have in common? What is the foundation of our relationship as a couple? The sense of intimacy is hardly noticed and everyone lives more and more in their own world.
What are the reasons and signs for this?
Less time is spent together. Communication revolves, if at all, only around coping with everyday life. One’s own ideas and wishes are no longer adequately formulated. The couple increasingly rubs themselves against banal themes in their discussions. It is hardly possible to spend “couple time” with each other, since this is perceived as a burden. In couples without children, among other things, the increasing degree of individualization is a possible reason for the dwindling sense of intimacy. Everyone realizes himself and one is less willing to make compromises.
In couples with children, the first phase in which the children are smaller is particularly threatened by living apart – when both partners do not feel respected and understood in their respective roles. In the case of couples whose children grow up, the danger increases even more, here it can be complained about the fact that there is nothing left of common feeling and that the only connection is between the children, possibly their own home and their mutual friends.
What to do if the partner does not want to work on it?
Every couple is different – that’s why I don’t think much of relevant advice literature. If only one is ready for change, the other should be lovingly convinced to move if he/she is still interested in the relationship. Since it applies: If one is dissatisfied, the other has automatically also a problem! Against the feeling of increasing distance it is important to address this and not to wait too long. Most ignore their unpleasant feelings over a long period of time and often have already started a “relief”. Many couples come to us too late!
What helps against it?
Our recommendations: Common rituals creating tea / wine or the like after work / How was your day, walks after food / instead of the television. Once a week being a guest and host – one organizes something and the other is surprised. This can be a nice meal or tickets for an event. The couple must rediscover that it feels good to spend time with each other.
Moving towards each other can also begin with small utterances and gestures. Once a day a good “Paartat”: a compliment, a small piece of paper with good wishes for the day or something similar. Again and again “pair time” furnish and these then also convert – between the holidays occasionally free weekends plan and if necessary also together drive away. In general, the demands on relationships are also sometimes too unrealistic, the partner should be the best friend, the most brilliant lover, sporty and attractive. The relationship also always consists of compromises is enchanting for many. My tip: have realistic expectations. On the other hand, it is also important to stay awake and to continuously strive for each other. Take yourself seriously and importantly, but don’t ignore your partner. Try to perceive the couple time consciously and create positive experiences together.
Would you say that a relationship is like a job?
In every case! The partner should be given attention, respect and consideration every day. If this happens then it becomes a dream job!
Mrs. Maren Otto is a couple therapist. Together with Mrs. Britta Ubenauf they work in the group practice for couple and individual therapy in Hanover.
More information here.
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