What did the epidemic do to relationships? Questions to ask a couples therapist

Dear friends, what has the epidemic done to your relationship? Are you closer than before, did you fight more? We want to say that there was hardly a relationship that was not shaken in some way by the stressful months of Corona. That’s exactly what we talked about with a couples therapist.

Dear Mrs. Haucke, you are a husbands therapist. Good question: Are you somewhat busy as a result of the pandemic?

On the other hand, fewer couples are coming to me because of the pandemic. In the case of parents, this has a lot to do with the fact that grandparents and other people who supported parents with child care can no longer afford it because of the pandemic. In addition, of course, there is an almost unpredictable situation in schools and daycares, which makes it difficult for many parents to plan appointments.

With couples who have been able to come to me in spite of everything, I have noticed that the pandemic puts some stress on their family and love lives, while for others the pandemic situation requires adjustments that are experienced as enrichment. Familiar role distributions are for example b. He broke up with a father who works from home and has more time for his wife and kids and proves that he’s an excellent home supervisor, which he never did before.

Ultimately, I have the same amount to do at the moment, but some sessions take place via zoom. I suspect that many couples are so busy adjusting to everyday life that they have to put “love issues” into account.

Who is usually the initiator of treatment – the man or the woman? And are there also differences about why this person came to you?

In my case, in fact, women often take the initiative to treat husbands. Very common reasons for turning to me are a breach of trust, an increase in disagreements, and a feeling that conversations remain pointless. I don’t see men taking the lead in certain issues and women in others.

Many couples report that they have only lived side by side since having children, are only parents, but are no longer a couple. Can you confirm?

Yes I can confirm that. Many couples with young children come to me and complain that they are “just working” anymore, doing their jobs as parents, but they no longer treat each other lovingly. Partners often feel and express little appreciation for each other, but accuse each other of being selfish. This is understandable because the needs of fathers almost inevitably have to take a back seat for a while, because in our culture fathers often have very little social support.

When both partners feel heavy and needy, disappointment easily emerges because it can be difficult for them to be with each other. Then love is almost inevitably suspended, and it is very important that you do not see this situation as a failure on the part of your partner. Instead, the love must be dissolved in time by the couple consciously cultivating their own love affair, creating space for themselves as a couple, naming their own needs rather than blaming, and appreciating what parents can currently offer each other.

Many couples also experience little to no sexual activity with each other – can a marriage only last if there is regular sex?

Anyway, pleasurable sex has a connecting effect and a source of joy in each other. However, there are couples who primarily express intimacy and bonding or experience it differently. However, one might wonder how two people living together manage to keep their hands off each other. If this works over a longer period of time, it is worth checking what is preventing the partner from experiencing physical intimacy.

There are many reasons for this. The constellation I encounter most often relates to the couple’s development of a distribution of roles where one partner takes a very caring role while the other allows himself/herself to take care of. This relationship is similar to that of parents and children, and therefore there is little sexual arousal. If both partners feel comfortable in their roles, then this marriage can be quite stable.

This means that sexual calm is OK, too. But how long does it take not to have sex for too long?

Sexual calm is fine and perfectly normal as long as partners can talk about it, express their needs, and recognize the warning signs. However, at least when the person realizes that he feels rejected and/or tends to satisfy his need for intimacy outside the current relationship, it is time to explore whether sexual calm is an expression of imbalance in the relationship.

With young parents it is z. It is very usual, for example, that sex is also put on hold for a while. So it might make sense not to do this in person if your partner feels the need to be alone. However, if you begin to feel insulted and offensive to others, the situation should be honestly discussed.

Is there one piece of advice you can give all couples who crave a change?

My advice to all couples is to try to slow down their communication. This can help break out of harmful or avoidant automatic patterns. It is important to speak for yourself, and express your feelings and needs, even at the risk that the other person may not be excited about them. This means honest self-description without blaming the other person, analyzing them, or even being mean or loud. If you then succeed in interacting emphatically with each other’s expressions of self, you will get a lot more.

Do you come only for couples who want to save the relationship or also for some who want to accompany in the event of a breakup?

Almost exclusively couples who want to save their relationship come to me. Perhaps this is because parents in particular seek amicable separation for the sake of their children. And then there are often things that need to be clarified and brokers specialize in.

Are there also cases where you say clearly: this relationship cannot be saved? Or do all relationships have a second chance?

When a couple comes to me, they have a certain level of motivation to commit to the relationship, otherwise they wouldn’t be with me. However, sometimes, it turns out that partners are not able to calm themselves enough to stop the verbal injuries. Or it turns out that someone has already said an internal goodbye and has not actually engaged. But I don’t know beforehand if the couple will be able to coordinate to the point where they both feel that their needs are being met in this relationship. Partners decide for themselves whether they are committed to the existing relationship or prefer to “move forward”.

Is there a story from your practice that particularly affected you?

Yes, I always find it poignant when people stop accusing each other and defend their weaknesses. Then there are the touching encounters. recently a couple z. For example, after they went through a period of controversy and disparagement, which made the relationship very questionable, they shared how hurt they were and how much they longed to enjoy each other again. Then they both declared their love for each other. Then tears came to my eyes.


If you want to know more about it: Ankha Hok’s book will be published today: “Immediate help for the relationship between spouses. The most common problems and how to deal with them “

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