Couple life is not always easy and no matter how stable a relationship is, there is always a place for surprises. For sure none of us is completely strange of this story in which the thread of things suddenly ends. Or becomes full of tension bearing the essence of an unwanted end.
I think the most shocking is felt for those who have been in relationships for decades, who have known themselves since adolescence, and reaching maturity around the age of 30-40, are gradually starting to experience a crisis of relationship. It has been found that this moment of tension starts from one of the partners, who at that moment in his life traverses an existential confusion, regarding his own role in his own life.
Each of us relates to a pattern formed by the relationship with caregivers from childhood, according to our personality, according to the style of attachment formed in the first months of life, depending on culture and so on. No matter how tempting to think that our relationship is more about the other, it is more about us. The way we choose our couple partner is not so far out of the sphere of control as it has been supposed over time. Love is not so misunderstood and “blind”. We, the people, choose our partners according to what best fits with what we need, with what we know, with what we consider to be good, pleasant, appropriate. Although attraction appears spontaneously and seemingly uncontrollable, in fact, attraction occurs when we come into contact with a person who meets those inner criteria. The way in which this rapid recognition, unconsciousness of the right people, is still not fully scientifically explained.
What we know now is that we work by recognizing what we already know, which we consider stable and secure. Due to the fact that the limbic system functions on the basis of pain and pleasure, which is translated into danger and safety, we feel what we consider to be known and stable in the sense of pleasure. We are attracted to what we know about people, about relationships, and then the people we fall in love with, make us feel familiar. People often have the feeling that they know each other for a lifetime, though they have just met, and this is explained by the fact that they have been chosen on the basis of familiarity criteria. The problem with this story is that the package includes both, the good things we know and the negative things. The ones that hurt us, have done us harm. It does not necessarily mean that the couple’s partners resemble to our parents. But surely, each of us could see that it is the partner who has access so easily where it hurts worse, where we already have wounds. We rarely connect with people who create completely new wounds and who “do not push our buttons at all”.
A phenomenon that is very common and quite unclear is the one in which couples who have shown stability, strength and harmony, are breaking up. Both women and men are feeling suffocated in their relationship, as if they would like something else, but they do not know what they want, they are not sure anymore that the chosen partner is the right one, they wonder if they have hurried, they want to feel again the feeling of love, of a new start with emotions. Among men, is often met the reason for an unlived youth, the feeling that they missed the things that life outside of a relationship can offer and feel the need to recover. Among women, the presence of a monotony, a lack of love, and the “sparks” that now seem painfully extinguished are often met.
What is the reason for this relationship crisis? How can it be avoided?
The truth is that there is no general explanation that applies to everyone. The answer is in each of us. People have the same emotional needs of relationship and autonomy. We all need to be in relation to the environment and to ourselves. The problem is that because of deep childhood suffering, in adult life it is quite difficult to satisfy our emotional needs just as we would need. Usually, we can meet our needs, we can take care of ourselves as long as somebody has taken care of us in the past. One reason is because like this we learn and the second one is that, regardless of whether it had been taken care of us in a bad way in our childhood, we didn’t know it and we thought that was normality, despite the fact that it was painful. This is one of the reasons why many people are so accustomed being sick that they do not notice abnormalities in their lives.
What is interesting to see in the functioning of the psyche is that the precarious satisfaction of emotional needs, based on the model of childhood satisfaction, is an aggression to one’s own person. If in the childhood the aggressors were the parents or caregivers, in the adult life we continue that aggression exactly as we have been “taught” to be normal. In this way, we come to satisfy our needs poorly and we choose partners that meet our needs in the same defective way. The reason is, as I mentioned above, because we only know this, this is the perceived normality. After a considerable number of years in which things have stood in this way, it is absolutely normal for there to be an outburst. And most people have the feeling that the relationship is the problem, that the couple partner is the problem. And maybe sometimes it is. But the basis, the source of the problem is within each of us. Because we make the choices, we turn to the “right” partner for our “normality”. And it comes to the stage in which we no longer bear the couple’s partner or even the whole fixed relationship due to the fact that through our relationship and partner we only do our self-aggression.
For example, a person who doesn’t trust itself and feels insecure will look for partners who trust her, who want to have control and protect her. The person who doesn’t believe in itself has come into this situation because the caregivers didn’t stimulate self-confidence, preferred to do everything instead, manifested a hyper protection that amputated its autonomy. The adult, once a child, will still feel the need for protection, not being able to offer it by itself, despite being able to. The chosen partner, the confident one, is very likely to want to hyper protect the perceived partner as vulnerable. This would only continue to amputate the autonomy and to hurt the partner lacking self-confidence, in the same way that the caregivers did. Although there is no such intention, things simply happen. The way in which we have formed ourselves can harm the partner in one way or another. And as mentioned above, it is not a coincidence that our partners “push us” where it hurts worse, basically we chose them on this model.
If a partner explodes and wants to break a such a long relationship, one explanation can be that their needs have continued to be precarious satisfied both by itself and by its partner, so there is an intense emotional reaction. It’s just like a drop that fills the glass. After years and years of unconscious self-aggression this violent manifestation appears, manifestation which is not even understood. Certainly, if the person truly will look inside itself, the person being at this stage of life may recognize that what it feels has no direct connection with the couple partner or lifestyle but with whom he was inside from the beginning, but has avoided all these years. It is a kind of desperate shout of our psyche which transmits the fact that it is tired of self-neglecting, self-harming and that the wound has become even deeper to the point where it can no longer be avoided.
These relationship crises can be completed by closing the relationship or strengthening it. If the partners discuss openly and they understand what the real problem is, if they choose to work with themselves so that the harmful effects they have created can be diminished, a very beautiful relationship can be consolidated, which will be even stronger than before and much healthier. But no matter how sad it sounds, sometimes to end a relationship may be the healthiest thing for both of them. There is no universal panacea, a psychologist must be consulted so that a correct assessment of the situation can be made, in order to reach clarity, reasons and potential solutions.
In conclusion, a very likely explanation of a couple’s crisis is found in the continuing precarious satisfaction of the couple’s emotional needs, which lead to a deepening of an already existing wound to the point where there is an intensely emotional outburst, hard to understand and hard to bear. Solutions can be found along with a specialist psychologist most of the time, but it’s good to be prepared also for a separation that may be what we need most, even if we do not realize that.