Housewife or husband: does it harm the relationship?

Couples therapist explains
Housewife or husband: Does it damage the relationship if one person is generally at home?

© ronstik / Shutterstock

Is love the answer to all questions? Not quite. It also provides quite a few. Psychologist and couples therapist Oskar Holzberg answers them all.

What does it do with a partnership when someone is always at home? Territorial fights and boredom.

Andre is self-employed, his own one-man business, he works from home. His wife Karen is annoyed that he distributes his work material more and more widely and that it is never tidy when she comes back in the evening. She is annoyed that Andre's work is constantly present. And she would like Andre to do more outside – simply because she too would like to be alone in the apartment without being disturbed. Andre says that he is always tidying up and that he hardly finds time to work anyway because he is always available for the children. He feels that he should do more as a rejection, as if Karen wanted to get rid of him.

My home, my castle?

If someone is almost always at home during the day – whether as a housewife or as a worker in the home office – then the apartment becomes his territory, in which he creates his own rituals, orders and processes. This is not always immediately understandable for those returning home, and there are conflicts if they interfere immediately or are outraged about the chaos at the door of the apartment. Because there is surely a reason why the hallway is full of cardboard boxes and why the children are already in their pajamas but have not yet eaten. Anyone who has been at home all the time hopes for support, that the other person will contribute, and want to give up tasks. Those who come home from work look for the relaxation room to switch off. Different apartment needs come together. "My home is my castle" becomes a problem.

Anyone who stayed in the castle will envy the adventures that can be experienced out there in the world. And anyone who has traveled the world will envy the security and freedom that only a castle at home can offer. Whoever is at home, even so we can understand the question, experiences little in the world. He lacks suggestions and conversations that arise from working with others. If he also has few social contacts and hardly any interests that lead him out of the house, then the relationship suffers. The partner feels overwhelmed as the only important contact person, the nestling becomes a boring counterpart and loses its attractiveness.

Now in the pandemic where the home office has become the norm for office jobs, these conflicts are acute for many couples. Culture and contacts are limited. And one or both of them may also be at home more and more often in the future. The world is shrinking into the apartment. And we long for the separation from home and outside, which we otherwise didn't necessarily want.

More tolerance is required

Because we can't avoid each other, we have to learn. Couples who have otherwise always managed their life together well and firmly are now called upon to become more tolerant of botch and chaos – because that will inevitably arise when both are looking for their own space within their own four walls. And couples who normally do everything spontaneously and situationally and improvise their way through life now need more fixed agreements and rules in order not to sink into constant stress. My home is my castle: This does not apply to couples. The home is a shared lock that no one can claim.

Fall in love with your partner again: Oskar Holzberg

Oskar Holzberg, 67, has been advising couples in his Hamburg practice for over 20 years and has been married for over 30 years. His current book is called "Neue Schlüsselsätze der Liebe" (240 pages, 11 euros, DuMont).

© Ilona Habben

"Couple adox" is the new podcast with Oskar Holzberg and his wife Claudia. You speak openly about the issues that keep challenging relationships. Funny, exciting and insightful! I.a. on AudioNow.

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BRIGITTE 01/2021