Love is the answer to all questions? Not quite. She also represents quite a few. Psychologist and couple therapist Oskar Holzberg answers.
Yes, men are just dependencies – but only because they believe it themselves.
But: talking to a couple I’m friends with. Eventually she said, “Soon, when we work less and the kids are finally out of the house, we can live much more togetherness.” His face became rigid. He noted that they already had a lot of togetherness, as he would find. Yes, but then they could have much more, she replied cheerfully. She was always looking forward to that. And he did not say anything anymore.
Men just retire faster
Then the topic was changed and tea poured. But the conflict that they both still had to deal with was clear. I was afraid that I had seen in very tender brushstrokes how he would get lost. Because, of course, my friend had long noticed that the topic “time for two” was a critical point in his relationship. But to notice something is one thing – to respond, the other. And my friend had fallen silent.
It was by no means so that he had nothing left to say. And it certainly did not mean that he was somehow limited in his perception. He had only been cast in the role of men in a partnership easier than women, the one who retires earlier.
As women become more socialized to pay attention to social relationships in general, they often push for closeness and clarified feelings. On the other hand, we consider men more gender-sensitive than the emotional ones. Which is why they often believe in themselves that leading relationships is not their strength, and quickly react culpably when they hear a charge or a demand. In a sense, they feel seated on the relationship deposit bank from the outset, and when a lawsuit really comes, they cover themselves inwardly. The women usually try only more loudly to be understood and to find emotional closeness. Which in turn reinforces the sense of doing everything wrong in their partners.
Is it often just misunderstandings?
Of course, men do not want to feel that way. They therefore try to avoid deep conflicts or keep them as small as possible. They may even complain about the messy bathroom or chaotic parenting, some also lead any conceivable counterclaim in the field. But emotionally, they relate to their snail shells. They hope that a nice shared experience may improve the relationship, but they will be closed and defensive. And in this dimmed state, they find it really hard to tell when their partner is no longer protesting but is about to end the relationship. Which in turn strengthens the partner in her decision: What should she do with a guy who does not even wake up to the threat of separation?
Whoever withdraws in a love relationship to avoid accusations and quarrels, gets into the role of the relationship signor. This does not have to be the man, it also happens in same-sex relationships, and not in any heterosexual relationship is the woman the accuser. But it will still be a while before the gentlemen of exhaustion can dissolve the image that they themselves have.
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Oskar Holzberg, 64, has been advising couples in his Hamburg practice for more than 20 years and repeatedly gets relationship questions. His current book is called "New Key Phrases of Love" (242 p., 20 euros, Dumont).