Love is the answer to all questions? Not quite. She also represents quite a few. This time, psychologist and couple therapist Oskar Holzberg answers the question: is it never too early for couple therapy?
Yes – because couples are usually late for couples therapy. And no – because in front of the altar a therapist has no business.
There is a lot to consider
The spouses D. are what couple pros call “highly controversial”. As soon as he begins to speak, she interrupts him angrily: What he says proves again just how cold and ruthless he is. Conversely, he also immediately stops her and loudly accuses her that she is once again twisting the truth and that it was not all that.
They are one of those couples who can not talk to each other anymore, because both are flooded with anger, despair and hurt feelings. In response to my question to such couples, when the quarrels began, I usually learn that that was years ago. It started when she felt left alone with the children, or when her hot flirtation with the piano teacher hurt him so much.
Couples often come too late in the couples therapy. Because it’s been a long time to admit to not getting ahead on your own. And because everything becomes a conflict in conflicting couples: If someone encourages them to seek outside help, the other person denies it. So, it would be a good idea for couples to have therapy for their relationship life before there are any problems – preventively so to speak ? Couple therapy like the annual health check-up at the family doctor?
Of course it is good to understand couple processes, communication and emotionally intelligent behavior. There are endless literature and countless courses. It can also actually help to proactively allow a professional to look at relationship life in order to detect potential conflicts before they escalate. But this is not a couple therapy. And by no means every couple gets into the situation that it needs one.
If we prefer to put the weak points of our love relationship immediately on the therapy couch, before it is supposedly too late, we fall into a trap. Because in the fast call for the relationship expert hides the message that a perfect partnership is possible – if we just do everything right.
You always have to be able to compromise
But that’s an illusion. No partner is the embodied fulfillment of all our relationship aspirations. No love will live without disappointment. Every couple has to struggle for solutions and compromises. Must learn to come together again after conflicts and to share difficult feelings with each other. That’s where therapy can help. But we must also accept our shortcomings and those of others and acknowledge that there is no unclouded love heaven on earth. Only good relationships, in which we take a farewell to our dreams of happiness with a sighing resignation, but know that we are rewarded with security in our cooperation. A self-joining and satisfying to be satisfied. Nobody can take away this inner maturing process.
However, I have suggestions that couples should not be late for therapy: why not agree in the good times of our relationship, that it is enough for one of us to find a couples therapy unavoidable – so that we can do them together.
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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).