The problems of the parents sit on the couch.
A friend told me that my lyrics about couples therapy sound so entertaining, as if a marriage crisis was an absurd episode that makes you laugh in the evening. She said: “People also need to know what that has done to your soul’s salvation!” That’s right: I’ve often cried, raged, complained, was hurt, was afraid that our love would break. Presumably, I will experience it more often – because I have married a man who, according to the analysis of our therapist Peter, firstly, quite dominant and second, as firmly convinced of his views as me. Presumably some conflict points will never dissolve. That scares me.
Then I read comments under my texts, which read: “What a disagreeable man!” That’s right too. In the past year, too, I found the man, whom I once married with conviction and in the knowledge of his weaknesses, rough edges, increasingly unsympathetic. Why did he behave so silly? Where was the nice, entertaining, generous Daniel? Then we started the therapy, and I realized: Daniel did not just act like that – he responded. On me, on the circumstances, on the stress. Since then, I have been trying to be less demanding, less pressing. I’m nicer and give him the chance to be nicer as well – a positive spiral.
But sometimes stress can trigger, which I do not say. For example, when I retire to read without a word while Daniel and Mattis build duplo towers together. In Daniel’s family, it’s time to announce plans: “I’ll go next door, do you mind?” When we talked about it in one of our meetings, Peter confirmed this habit – he’s married to an Italian. It was once again an aha-effect: Daniel finds it selfish when I just disappear – not because he is stupid, but because such behavior in his culture is considered solitary and dismissive. He wonders why I’m going to escape the family time in third. Would he and Mattis be too much for me?
We are as we are because we come from families that tick differently. That’s why mom, dad and siblings always sit with us on the couch. Daniel is such a neat and tidy person because his mother has transferred the acuracy of her job as a surgical nurse to the home. I’m so laissez-faire, because my parents are still a lot laissez-fairer. Daniel thinks my family is cool, because we talk to each other at the dining table rather than Mattis (while he is in a dialogue with his son, so to speak). Because they do not raptly comment on every brick that Mattis puts on another. Daniel says they do not pay enough attention to the safety of our son. On the other hand, I think his family exaggerates with all that.
Peter advised us to find a third way: not Daniel’s family culture should dominate and not mine. “How about a book where you discover guidelines that suit both of you?” It was one of those advices that sound so incredibly logical and simple: just find a third way. So I started reading Jesper Juul. I was too philosophical and theoretical. Then, just for entertainment purposes, I reached out to “why French children are not annoying.” And found in it an awful lot of suggestions, which I suspected: Daniel would like them too. After all, he wanted Mattis to be able to behave and comply with limits. Only: His constant yielding to every little cry was the wrong way. Daniel recently read the book. And what should I say: It made “click” with him. He finally realized that it is not “completely normal” for a child of one and a half years to wake up six or seven times a night. That it is good for this child to play alone too. And that small freedoms should be granted if the boundaries are well defined.
We talked about all this and realized how much we see in a similar way. Finally, similarities! We’ve also made a few plans – such as that Daniel now puts Mattis to bed, because then sleeps better (for whatever reason). We have approached a “third way” with it. It’s never easy, if you want to leave different styles behind. But a first step has been taken