Can Couples Therapy Save Love?

For some, it is the last chance attempt. For others, a way to resolve conflicts in a relationship where you no longer know how to talk to each other. To check the inevitability of a breakup or to solve problems, more and more couples are going through the "therapy" box. With success ?

In the old days, you hardly chose (or not) your other half, married young, before spending your life by your side, despite the ups, downs, the best and often the worst.
Then, divorce became more democratic. Separating has gradually not been a prohibition or a taboo, women – who are much more often at the origin of separation – have become visible in society, have been able to open a bank account without the agreement of their husband (sic), to work, to earn a living and to have the freedom, thus, to leave the couple when this one no longer functions.
And if, at first, this freedom offered to reconnect with celibacy when love has died generated many separations, it seems that in recent years, the trend has been reversed.

Indeed, studies show that after a boom between the 1970s and 1990s, the divorce rate is now tending to drop among couples who, in addition to the crisis that comes into play, are less inclined to send everything. walk around without first trying to repair what can be repaired. The result is couples therapists' offices that fill up and 70% * of those who undertake this work together for whom the situation is improving. So, what is the magic of couples therapy?

Couples therapy: when to consult?

As with an illness, the earlier you consult, the more likely the cure is to be effective and quick. According to specialists, it would be best to consider consulting as soon as you realize that your couple is having difficulty understanding each other and living in harmony.
Sadly, most struggling couples come to practice after five to six years of wandering, when misunderstandings, resentment and mutual anger between partners have taken hold, making the work of psychotherapy all the more painful.
But it is never too late, when the two partners in the couple express the will to give each other a chance to communicate again, and to settle these problems, often the same ones, which damage long-term love and put it in crisis: cohabitation, routine, children, incomprehension, cultural or religious difference, difficulties linked to the recomposition of the family, sexuality, infidelity.

Couples therapy: why consult?

You don't learn to be in a relationship, as if it were inferred that humans knew how to live together naturally. However, after the first days of passionate love, and then we live together, we share the daily life, the family, the logistics inherent to it, that time and routine reduce desire, that individually we sometimes ask ourselves professional or personal questions, that we do not necessarily evolve at the same time, living as a couple comes under the balancing act.
Also, sometimes, despite everyone's efforts, understanding each other and resolving conflicts turns out to be impossible for two. Quite simply because, with your head in the handlebars, you can no longer even see what is not working. Or more.

By calling on a professional (psychologist, psychoanalyst or psychotherapist), we will be able to untangle the knots. Because, if this one does not aim to position itself as an arbitrator, and even less to take sides (which a lawyer will more readily do), it will on the other hand be a relay of communication between the two partners, and will point out the problematic that, sometimes, they no longer distinguish. The end could be the rupture, of course, but then it will have been decided accordingly and having taken care to listen to the other. An opportunity to leave without regrets and in peace.

In other cases, some couples report that therapy has really taught them how to live as a couple, just as we undertake training in other disciplines that are difficult to learn on their own. They then leave happier, and above all, finally armed with a solid method to face the management of crises and storms that inevitably punctuate the boat of long-haul lovers.

Today, even young couples don't wait for the first problems to appear before calling a shrink. Preventively, they choose to go from the beginning of their story through the psy box in order to build healthy foundations for their marital history to last.

How does couples therapy work?

Concretely, couples therapy is done in pairs (even if some therapists like to schedule an individual session to collect each other's feelings).

During the first consultation, everyone explains what brings them up, without animosity or resentment. In 90% of cases, it is the women who have asked their partners to come to therapy, and the men at first have difficulty expressing themselves during these sessions where you have to expose your emotions. But now, therapists say they are seeing more and more men initiating the process – good news for the couple.

When everyone has expressed their request for the relationship, the therapist can verbalize the ground for reflection on which the couple will be able to work (if one comes to know how to arrange the breakup without causing the children to suffer, while the other seeks how to revive the couple, therapy will not be possible).
Then, the methods differ between the analytical, systemic or behaviorist approach, but it is always a question of expressing suffering and unspoken so that the other hears the suffering and the lack of his spouse, and no longer Criticisms.

It is also about listening to yourself without getting upset. Some therapists prefer role-playing for this, or choose to film patients. Sometimes, the view that some have of the way they express themselves, their anger or the way they interact with others is totally distorted. Seeing yourself on screen can be a good starting point. The therapist, a true mediator of the couple, can then lay the new foundations on which the couple will re-establish their dialogue.
To do therapy that works is to see yourself from a new perspective, and to talk to yourself differently. Rediscover the other, hear their suffering and respond calmly, whatever the outcome.

According to specialists, a few sessions are enough to restart the dialogue. Couples therapy cannot exceed twenty sessions. If it lasts for several years, it is more of an individual joint therapy, which then deviates from the original purpose. It may then be appropriate to move towards that.

Psychology, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, hypnosis: what to choose?

As we have seen, couples therapy can be approached in several ways and according to different practices, depending on whether you want to dig into the past or directly address the present, speak or act out scenes.
> Psychoanalytic couple therapy will strive to analyze the bond that unites people. The analysis will focus on work on the unconscious, the meeting of two neuroses and will often delve into the childhood of each person to resolve the knots that bind them. The psychoanalyst can then ask the patients to devote themselves solely to work on the couple. Others see no objection to one or both partners continuing their eventual individual psychoanalysis.
> Gestalt therapy focuses on communication.
> As for the systemic current, it focuses the work on the relationship itself and interactions with the family circle.
> Certain behavioral therapies, very concrete, invite the partners to unbridle the body at the same time as the speech, sometimes even encouraging them to dance since in a couple, finally " you need two to tango **".
> Finally, since recently, Ericksonian hypnosis has been enjoying growing success among therapists who, without using it at each session, willingly practice this proven method of hypnosis; which allows emotions to be released and to get out of the circumscribed framework of the cabinet when the work stalls.

The couple, a vintage object that we pamper?

Like those old-fashioned decorative objects that end up returning to our living rooms when fashion revives the oldest aesthetics, it seems that the couple we wanted to bury have not said their last word. As proof, the interest of pairs in difficulty for therapy, the ex-friends who have become friends thanks to better communication for the child encouraged by shrinks, and the studies on the subject which continue to record great success. .

Esther Perel, American psychotherapist specializing in couples, sells trucks of each of her books and in particular the last, I love you, I am cheating on you, his solution to the survival of the couple in the 21st century, ranked among the bestsellers. As for his TED talks, always on the problem of couples, they were each seen by nearly 20 million Internet users curious to learn more about the subject. Recently, France Culture and its program " Feet on the ground " was launching a series of podcasts titled The clinic of love , immersed in the privacy of couples in therapy.
Proof that love-always paradoxically remains a fantasy that many are now ready to fulfill, unlike their boomer parents, by giving themselves every chance to achieve it.

* According to the Association of Marriage and Family Therapists of EEUU
* = It takes two to tango / pitch

3 books to learn more about couples therapy

  • I love you, I am cheating on you, by Esther Perel, translated by Valérie Bourgeois, eds. Robert Laffont. A treatise on infidelity which proves that the situation is more complex than it seems … This work has been translated into more than 20 languages. € 21
  • Couple Autotherapy: improve communication, regain desire and break the routine, by Florence Alexandre and Sarah Mallet, € 19.90 on Amazon.
  • Who are the happy couples?, by Yvon Dallaire, in Pocket Book format, € 7.70