You + me = us. But where did the “I” go? In order not to get lost in your couple and feed them without exhausting them, there is only one solution: cultivate the (right) distance and assert your identity.
“Marriage is when a man and a woman become one. The hardest part is knowing which one! This Woody Allen joke sums up the couple’s problem perfectly. Everything that seems magic at the beginning – sharing the same bed, the same tastes, the same friends, the same hobbies, the same tics of language – too often leads not only to the impoverishment of the feeling of love (if not to his death) but also, sometimes, to the sensation of losing one’s identity. The “we” replacing the “I”, the couple entity ends up absorbing individuals. The relationship transforms the other into an extension of oneself, into a double that is both predictable and invisible. Desire dies out, weariness wins.
Couples therapists confirm this: when you suffocate in your couple, you are no longer able to see clearly in your feelings. Because you have lost your desire, your energy. Paradoxically, this may be the right time to question yourself and your relationship. Am I in a cannibal relationship, which means that I only feed on the other? Am I emotionally secure enough to allow it to flourish outside of our relationship? Have I not diluted myself, lost sight of myself in the relationship with two? So many tracks that can open new paths for the couple and give them back the oxygen they lacked.
1 – Stay two
“After a few years, I no longer knew who I was, my” I “was drowned in the” we “, says Nadine, 42, married for twelve years. Nothing more of him surprised me, I foresaw his gestures, his words. I wanted to drop everything, I was suffocating… ”Nadine did not drop everything. She decided to “bring air into her life” by embarking on a voluntary activity that allowed her to exist outside of her relationship, to make new relationships, but also and above all to regain energy and contagious enthusiasm. After a few months, she found herself “more independent, more radiant, and … more in love!” ”
Being two is also asserting yourself by knowing how to say no. It sounds simple. It is not that much. The idea that when we love each other, we have to do and want the same things is very ingrained in our minds. “If you don’t do like me, it’s because you don’t love me enough,” one implicitly translates. Some particularly “insecure” people may feel challenged and judged if their spouse does not share all their tastes, ”notes Isabelle Filliozat, psychotherapist. While on the contrary we should cultivate, honor our differences, dare to have different desires, and respect those of the other. And don’t forget that when we met him, what appealed to us was his difference, a difference planed down over the days. Polished like a pebble, cleared of its gray areas, predictable and familiar, the lynx has turned into a large domestic cat. How can we be surprised to no longer desire it?
2 – Avoid sacrifices
Giving up hobbies, friends under the pretext of giving more time to your couple or, on the contrary, forcing yourself to adopt those of the other means not only denying your uniqueness but also unconsciously nurturing a bitterness that will eventually resurface during an argument. A sacrifice is a form of blackmail that always ends up poisoning the intimacy of the couple. The sacrificed person lives with the fantasy of one day being rewarded for his sacrifices and the slightest attempt at partner autonomy is experienced as unbearable ingratitude.
In general, systematically making concessions to please others results in the opposite of what you want. We imprison ourselves in a borrowed personality – by dint of giving in, of sinking into the desire of our partner, do we still know who we are and what we want? – and we end up suffocating it under the weight of our pseudo-solicitations.
3 – Create a loving space
It’s a cliché and a reality: married life makes you lazy. And modern life tires. Result: we often sleep side by side, exhausted and chaste. This is how, from small laziness to great fatigue, the love bond becomes a brotherly bond. The other’s body, too familiar, ends up losing all erotic charge. If there is no magic recipe, symbolic acts can prevent shifts to an asexual relationship. This can, among other things, involve the creation of a romantic, temporal or geographic space, dedicated to the couple’s sensual dates. A corner of the room, converted into a “love alcove”, a weekend devoted to sensuality, where art, food, or nature, depending on the affinities of the couple, create a different intimacy that breaks with everyday life.
Maryse Wolinski, in love with her famous husband for thirty years, tells (In Chambre à part, Albin Michel) how “a separate room” could give new life to her couple, a more intense, more playful sensuality: “We have wanted to create new codes of seduction. We split the apartment in two. Whenever I joined my husband in his room, everything became unknown, unexpected, offbeat… ”
4 – Agree to move away
Give yourself time to separate – a few hours or a few days – and then find yourself better. The advice, struck at the corner of common sense, and provided by sexologists and couple therapists, seems to be within everyone’s reach. Fault. When one of the two partners feeds elsewhere, the old demons of emotional insecurity resurface. How can he flourish away from me? What if, far from me, he found better than me? What if he got a taste for the sea air and no longer wanted to come back? Between love and possession, the border is very often tenuous. Fear of abandonment, narcissistic fragility is the brakes, often unconscious, which prevent us from letting the other go away. However, it must be remembered that it is frustration that drives people away, not freedom.
“Before, I always moaned a bit when my companion went to report, says Lucie, 38 years old. Now I’m happy, I take the opportunity to do new things on my side and I could see that when he comes back, our exchanges are more invigorating, more joyful, because nourished by the experiences that each has lived off his side. ”
Another obstacle to autonomy, our submission to the social norm: “A couple, it must be good together all the time. “So if I feel the need to go out alone if I feel good in my relationship but not all the time, I say to myself:” I don’t like her enough, I was wrong about partner “, or:” I am not made for the life of a couple. This cliché has the hard skin and the skin of many couples, who, instead of getting rid of this belief, get rid of the relationship.
5 – Cultivate desire elsewhere
Desire is also nourished by bursts of desire gleaned from couples, reminds sexologists. It is not a question of cultivating infidelity, but of deploying its sensual antennas outside the marked space of the relation to two. Let yourself be seduced just enough to savor the taste of the “possible”, without necessarily succumbing to it. “Paradoxically, it is the couples who grant themselves the most freedom who remain the most faithful, notes psychiatrist and psychotherapist Serge Hefez. In more closed couples, the forbidden, on the contrary, often acts like a magnet. Maybe because it’s harder to betray someone who trusts you?
Cultivating desire outside of a couple does not mean that we are only playing on the register of sexual seduction. Taking the time to take care of yourself with pleasure, sharing intimacy with other people, is also to diversify your sources of vital energy, it is to bring life into your life, therefore desire.
6 – find the right tempo
For Serge Hefez, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist, love is not enough to make people happy. In The Couple’s Dance, he shows that, to last, the relationship must be regularly questioned. Extract.
“To build their relationship and keep it going, the couple needs external elements. To dance, you need music. In a couple, it is often the children who allow the violins to be tuned, but others can also set the tempo and make it vibrate. The role of music can thus be held by joint projects […] or by a person who occupies an important place in the couple […]. All these “third parties” can weigh on the couple or, on the contrary, enrich it. The more numerous and diverse they are, the better they are dosed, and the less the couple risks losing sight of the fact that they are above all a conjugal couple. ”
For you, what is it essential to preserve in your relationship? Freedom to think, freedom of movement, or freedom of feeling?