Every relationship has its phases in which it does not run smoothly. But in times of Tinder & Co., it seems easier than ever to exchange the rusty for a shiny, new love. Why it is still worthwhile to pick up the polishing cloth …
A few months after my wedding, I sat howling in the living room. First Ehekrach, I just wanted to go away. My eyes fell on the couch and the TV, our new joint purchases. The sofa consisted of six modules, since the division was clear. But how the hell, I thought sniffling, do you separate a TV? And where exactly should the half sofa and me go? I looked at my wedding ring and realized, “Take off, it’s not that easy anymore. That was in 1999.
Who knows, if we had been technically 20 years further, I would have taken my smartphone in the hand and sorted my life with a few clicks – in the same time that Boris Becker needed at that time to get on the Internet (“er, am I already in it? “). But I had only a normal phone, so I called my husband: “You, we have to talk …” Each pair knows thirsty stretches, in which it is not going well. In which you look at the people who are shuffling through the kitchen in sweatpants, look like an insect researcher at a beetle and ask yourself: Will I really spend the rest of my life with him? Our mothers of the “must-have” generation wiped such thoughts aside and kept going. Separate? Not in question – what would the neighbors think?
Standstill irritated, although we dream of rest
But we have quite different options today. We earn our own money and do not need a man to pay the rent and the Mallorca vacation. Since “single parent” is no longer a stigma, no one has to stay together because of the children. And the dream man? You can fall in love with the net every eleven minutes, so what are you waiting for?
Change today is automatically equated with improvement. Or why else are we constantly busy changing things – from the bathroom wall paint to the hairstyle to the holiday destination? Although we dream of peace, of a glass of wine on the terrace, legs up and phone out, we are disturbed by the deadlock. Today you have to be active, do something, for every problem there is the appropriate tool or Youtube tutorial. No wonder we find it so difficult to endure a relationship crisis.
Are our claims simply too high?
There is another aspect to it. “Today’s society operates according to rules that require flexibility, but in return, definitions appear as blockages,” explains philosopher Ralf Konersmann in his book “The Unrest of the World” (Fischer Wissenschaft). “If you want to be flexible, you have to be flexible in the choice of your job, your place of residence and your life partner, and always ready to rethink your decision.”
Nothing is forever? Sad conception. “The unrest is there now, we can not go back,” says Konersmann, “but we can ask ourselves: what did we have, what did we have now, and did we really want it that way?” In fact, 74 percent of all Germans dream of the one great love that lasts forever. On the other hand, almost every third marriage breaks down. What exactly is the problem? Are our claims too high? In the past, we could only look our neighbor to the front door and assumed that they deal with the same nonsense as we do. Today we click through the network of their nicely curated postcard world and come pondering: Is the life of all other couples only from best-of-moments?
Everyday life destroys the carefree happiness of a relationship
As soon as the intoxication and the first wild infatuation no longer play a role, something shifts, according to the psychologist Norman Späth: “What the relationship carries then, is the yearning for security, security, closeness and familiarity.” Couples who fail to make that transition usually split up after half a year. But even those who overcome this hurdle, goes directly into the next fight – against everyday life, this lousy spoilsport.
No matter how beautifully a young couple shapes the future – the baby, the Golden Retriever, the little house on the outskirts – everyday life makes more dreams burst apart than Dieter Bohlen in a season “DSDS”. Stress, lack of sleep or money worries put the relationship to the test and you have to constantly make an arrangement. Exhausting. Of course it is tempting to log into Facebook in the evening when the partner has fallen asleep in front of the telly. To see what the ex-boyfriend is doing today. And to think, “What if …”
The option of finding something better has suddenly become real
The social media are only partly responsible for our dissatisfaction. “This yearning for the perfect romance has always existed,” explains Norman Späth. “What’s Instagram today used to be Hollywood, and before that perhaps the Bastei-Lübbe novel: a way to escape from everyday life.” However, another aspect is much more relevant, the psychologist said: “The option of finding something better has suddenly become real, but I can only adore a George Clooney on screen, but I can contact the guy on Tinder directly . “ Means: If you are no longer comfortable in your relationship, you will find a way out faster – and if it is just for a fling.
If you give up quickly, you will quickly become unhappy
But what happens when you are cheated yourself? “Leave the dumbass,” the others advise. Anyone who decides to stay with their partner, however, is stunned by his environment: “Seriously, you do not have to, that’s sooo last century!” However, a crisis is by no means a sign that the human being at our side is not the right one. It’s the natural dynamics of a partnership that pushes interests and sneaks between the rumpled sheets of Netflix and thick socks.
The philosopher and writer Alain de Botton pleads for a romantic pessimism. “The neurosis of our age is the pursuit of perfection, it makes us intolerant and angry when people are not what we want them to be,” he writes in an essay for The New York Times. “The sooner we realize that we are all imperfect, the happier we become.” What else is left? If you give up too quickly, you end up in danger of having your next partner in the same situation two years later.
The “exchange theory” is a term from psychology. According to her, partners are constantly reviewing the cost-benefit balance of their current relationship and matching it with the possible alternatives. If in doubt, could not you just create a list of pros (“He’s taking care of the tax”) and contras (“He’s not bringing flowers”)? “Such a calculation presupposes that people behave rationally,” says psychologist Norman Späth. “But they do not do that.”
The crucial question
In the job or friendships, this model may work, says Späth, but love can not be offset. “In the end, it’s a highly emotional decision that only everyone can make.” Sometimes it takes time for the realization to come, sometimes you have to travel to another place to change perspective and to listen in-depth: Do I trust that I will be happy again? Is there still love? “It does not have to be all that great, but there must be hope: that it pays to invest in the relationship,” explains Norman Späth. However, anyone who is sure that the other will not change anyway and you can not deal with its nature, have probably already made the decision.
That’s what matters
Some time ago I was sitting in the tram, opposite me an older, well-dressed couple on the way to the theater. They were late and blamed each other. As they strained, the woman reached into her pocket, took out a hand cream, unscrewed the cap and handed it to her husband, who creamed his hands and handed them back. As they probably did a hundred times before. That’s what makes a good relationship, I thought: Even in moments when you want to clap the other on the wall, you still remain a team.
If somebody had told me 20 years ago what else was coming up to me, maybe I would have packed my bags. Leading a long relationship means work. Always looking for the conversation, even though everything was chewed zigly times. If nothing works, do a couple therapy and spend a double hour discussing why he never hung up the laundry. Learning to fight properly. (Our couple therapist advised us to avoid generalizations and you messages.) Unfortunately, I still shout: “Never hang up the laundry!”) Above all, endure phases in which the relationship, which started like a jet ski, is going on bobbing like a dull rubber boat. It’s just like that! But it’s getting better too.
On Instagram, #couplegoals has more than 12 million posts. If you believe these pictures, the highest couple goal looks like this: smooch-selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. Together to the gym. Or: running around in the same jackets (it says “King” on their “Queen”). There are much cooler goals, but you can not take pictures of them. If somebody is talking nonsense at a party, my husband and I just have to look at each other and our Bluetooth starts. Right away, we know what the other person thinks (“Whoa, what a showman”). Or when a particular song is on the radio – and we both need to remember and grin at this legendary embarrassing evening in the Spanish karaoke bar. These are the real #couplegoals. And they feel pretty great.
Of course, the idea of exchanging your partner for another model flashes. Like the old self-made sweater against the chic sweater from the shop window. But, hey, even if the old one has two holes, he warms like no other. One is proud of him, because he is unique and stories are stuck in every scam. And would he, had he once landed in the Altkleidertonne, terribly miss.