How to Solve Relationship Problems; In Switzerland, 42 couples out of 100 are getting divorced, according to figures from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. This means that most marriages resist .Would couples therapy be an antidote? Interview of psychiatrist Robert Neuberger, specialist of the couple and the family.
How to Solve Relationship Problems
When the relationship deteriorates, partners may try to see it a little bit more clearly by undertaking couple therapy. What can we expect from such an approach? The explanations of Robert Neuberger, psychiatrist, specialist of the couple and the family, founder and director of the Center for the Study of the Family (CEFA ) and author of many books on the subject.
Planet Health: In everyday life, it is not always easy to recognize that his couple is bad. What are the alarm signals?
Robert Neuberger: Very often, people consult for a communication problem. These are endless discussions that lead to nothing or incessant arguments, parts of a trifle. Sometimes people do not say anything and suddenly it is the disaster that amazes the other. But these are in fact symptoms that do not provide information on the deep reality of the couple’s difficulties. It is very important to understand this, so therapies focused on communication problems often prove insufficient.
Do you question approaches that focus on specific ways of communicating women and men, such as the famous “Men come from Mars, women come from Venus?
Yes, these are just techniques. But we must discover the problem that is at the root of the difficulties of the couple. And he will not reveal himself, you have to go and get him. Even though couples think they have found it.
Do you have an example?
The trickery. This is a reason for frequent consultation. But it’s a question of why one of them went elsewhere. This is very often due to dissatisfaction in the relationship. Today, those who start a couple have very strong expectations: they seek to love – and especially to be loved – to feel that they exist as men or women.
That is to say?
When the couple is out of the kind of ping pong game of blaming themselves for their failure, it very often expresses frustration. The couple seems to be well, he has children, but one morning one of them wakes up wondering: “But what am I doing here?” The fact is that the man-woman dimension has become secondary in the face of the constraints of daily life, the couple occupies only the smallest portion. We forget the seduction, the two outings, the attentions and the rituals, all that makes live a relationship and is particular to each of them. But a couple needs to feel that they exist as such. Sexuality is not enough, even if it is part of that whole.
It is generally thought that in a couple “when sex goes, everything goes”!
It’s not a very romantic way to express things. And no, this is not the case; one does not exist in one’s sexual identity (which includes the totality of the person) simply because one is a sexual object. This is why sexologists have a lot of trouble helping couples in difficulty.
Given the increase in life expectancy, do you believe in the duration of the couple?
Completely! Sometimes I am told that the couple has worn out. I absolutely do not believe it. In fact it has been neglected, which is not the same. The relationship goes bad when there is a kind of fraternization that commits itself. People do not go out alone anymore, they do not leave alone, little by little we realize that they do not have a life of a couple anymore.
Is not this fraternization necessary, because the couple goes through trials in which one has to be in solidarity and support one another?
It may be necessary, but it is a question of balance. If there is only fraternity, the couple is in bad shape. People are often very surprised because the relationship seemed very nice, except that it neglected what is the heart of the couple. This often happens after a second birth.
Does not the child cease the couple?
Today children do not favor the couple, on the contrary, they encroach on its territory. They turn the couple into a small educational team. Everyone is supposed to be involved equally. It is an evolution of society, but it is important that parents are aware of it so that they take the trouble to leave a place for the couple next to their function of educator. The typical profile of the couple who comes to consult is people aged 38-42, working full time, parents of two children.
And couples who do not have children?
It’s a question of balance. Not enough torque kills the couple and too much torque can also be a problem.
What are the signs to be attentive to?
In one of my books, Stop? We continue? I show how to make a balance of torque. The title was inspired by a couple of writers. Their ritual was to meet every six months in the bistro where they met and ask the question: “We stop or continue?” They did it for more than sixty years. Nice example of a temporary that lasts! We must not think that things are established once and for all, it is very important. To question oneself in this way every two to three years is salutary. Because a couple evolves and the expectations are not the same at each age of their life.
What questions need to be asked?
The questions that can be asked cover several aspects of the couple: the verbal and non-verbal communications, the reasons for choosing this partner, the ability to make projects together, the benefits that we have to live this couple. But there are no ready-made answers. A couple is a small, extremely complex association. Each story is unique.
What are the other big reasons why a couple breaks up?
There are many. The different difficulties of life can put him in danger. But a good couple is not a couple who does not have problems but who knows how to solve them. My essential work as a therapist is to give them some creativity, whether to continue together or not. However, I can not give them a solution, I do not have any.
Should you consult with a couple or separately?
It is better to come as a couple, because if we see each separately we risk having information that we cannot use in a joint session. An individual therapy is very good, but it is a step for you.
Often, however, one of the members of the couple refuses to consult, should we insist?
The refusal to consult is part of the confrontation. But if one really wants his spouse to accompany him to the therapist, more often than not he will come.
How long does a couple therapy take?
In my case, I rarely do more than a dozen sessions, spaced two weeks each. This duration may seem limited compared to that of an individual therapy. In fact, it will essentially be a question of knowing in the long term if there are possibilities of change or not.