When people walk into Dr. Beatrice Wagner come, they often have a problem in their own residence. The therapist then tries to find out the causes. It is not uncommon for their work to be similar to that of a detective. She describes this using the example of Caro and Max *

Long-term couples in particular often no longer have romance

I thought not a big problem when Caro and Max stood at my door for the first time. A couple that stands out positively, so radiant: two who look at each other lovingly, laugh together. Many couples come to me who immediately notice bitterness and arguments – Caro and Max are a refreshing contrast. Caro greeted me with a firm handshake. Max stood half a step behind her and said hello in a friendly manner. Both were in rush hour at work in their late twenties: Having fallen asleep because of stress in everyday life, I guessed prematurely after the first few minutes of conversation. It would have been classic. When everyday life returns after the pink phase of being in love, romance, and passion are simply no longer available at all times. In addition, the demands of romantic are increasing. Many couples do not make it so easily over the threshold to more mature love. In such cases, we therapists can usually help relatively easily. With Caro and Max, however, I should be wrong. The reasons were deeper.

Caro and Max had been together for six years. Married for two years. In the beginning, like most couples, they had loved a lot and everywhere. Caro wanted Max and Max wanted Caro. When I later thought back to our first therapy lesson, looking back I noticed a few things that pointed to more than the classic problem. Caro was quite direct and almost boyish, Max reserved and hesitant. “We love each other, but have no more romance,” Caro had definitely said when they both sat down on my big black leather sofa. “We stay together every two months. At most! And then only as dutifully.” Max was silent. He suddenly seemed helpless next to her. While Caro was happy to finally be able to talk about the lack of romance, Max gave the impression as if he felt pressured by so much openness. Caro continued to criticize: “And I can also count the times I’ve come on one hand,” she said. Max looked at the tabletop in front of him.

First Max got “homework”

When a couple has little romance it happens to many men that on the rare occasions they come early. And the more often that happens, the more pressure they come under. I explained to both of them in our first session that something can easily be done about it. Max got “homework”. He should indulge himself and pause just before he got to the point where he couldn’t control himself. To stop in good time before the “point of no return” – he can learn that. When he got into the routine, he was allowed to include his wife in the exercise. “You can stimulate her differently during the breaks,” I told him. Max nodded and looked at the roof beams over the sofa. He was ashamed. When Caro and Max came back to my practice four weeks later, I initially thought: already solved. Max seemed more relaxed, this time he spoke first: “I’m gradually getting a grip on it.” “How many times have you tried it?” “I asked. “Once,” Caro looked disappointed. This time the criticism came from Max: “Everything still works according to the same pattern,” he said. He looked uncertainly at his wife.

So it wasn’t that easy after all: The problem wasn’t just arriving too early, I realized now. The “same pattern” meant: Caro always started, romance only existed in good mood at everywhere. Caro knew how to touch Max, and Max knew how to touch Caro to make her romantic. It was nice for both of them for a while, but the same staging gets boring at some point. I had to give them both new ideas and try to find out what else turned them on. What did they think of when they satisfied themselves. “I won’t do that anymore,” said Caro surprisingly. “It feels wrong with a man next to me whom I love.” Women often stop their own desire when they lack love for their partners. They feel that their own desire is an emergency. I told Caro that she had given up part of her own romantic mood. Self-Love wasn’t a substitute, but for herself. After all, she’s still in the mood for Max, I thought. Already a good sign. “And you, Max, are you in the mood for Caro?” I wanted to know. “Yes,” assured Max. But that didn’t sound really convincing. I prescribed a second exercise: Whenever one of the two felt pleasure, he should send the other a text message as motivation.

One sentence finally led on the right track

The result one session later:
Max had sent three text messages to Caro, two to him, one time it came to love. Both were still dissatisfied. “I just don’t like it when he sticks together like a cat,” said Caro. “He’s a man!” She would like it if he grabbed her, she said. “Push me against the block and then just go for it. Push up my attire and tell me how amazing he thinks me.” Caro suddenly knew exactly what she wanted: “I like it when he says directly and bluntly that he wants me. “Max looked embarrassed at the floor. Obviously, he was quite excited – and overwhelmed. My guess now was that Max had a problem with his masculinity. Maybe he was brought up strictly religious? Maybe he also felt like so many young men, simply overwhelmed by the various roles that are expected of a man today? The modern man should talk sensitively about his problems, be an equal partner, treat his wife like the best buddy, and finally mutate into a wild guy in their residence. Many men do not manage this balancing act between women whisperer and macho so easily. Above all, there are few role models for the new role. I told Max that I found him sensitive and empathetic. “I got my empathy from home. I only grew up with women, with my mother and three sisters.” Treat his wife like the best buddy and eventually mutate into a wild guy in residence. Many men do not manage this balancing act between women whisperer and macho so easily. Above all, there are few role models for the new role. I told Max that I found him sensitive and empathetic. “I got my empathy from home. I only grew up with women, with my mother and three sisters.” Treat his wife like the best buddy and eventually mutate into a wild guy in residence. Many men do not manage this balancing act between women whisperer and macho so easily. Above all, there are few role models for the new role. I told Max that I found him sensitive and empathetic. “I got my empathy from home. I only grew up with women, with my mother and three sisters.”

Suitable male role models had to be found

This sentence finally put me on the right track. I asked about the family. His father was absent, always had other women and his mother felt humiliated by it. She separated from her father when Max was seven years old. In view of his suffering mother, the boy had decided early on: he would never, never want to do anything like this to his wife. So he was very, very loving. In addition, Max had never courted a woman in his life. At a party, he just had to stand in the corner and they flew to him. With his dazzling looks – he reminded me of the young Alain Delon – and his caring charisma, he didn’t have to go to great lengths. Caro, his first great love, was now the first woman he fought for. For me, the diagnosis was finally clear: Max also had to get to know his male side. Especially in their residence. In the following sessions, we were on the right track, we looked with Max for suitable male role models. George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, or the best friend? He should think about what he liked about these men. For example, how Clooney used his gaze to flirt at nurses in the series Emergency Room. I also recommended a pick-up artist book to Max, although of course, I don’t really think much of these guys. You have made the motto “persuade and forget” your motto. Women see them as objects of pleasure and trophies, they try to get them around with psychological tricks. Not that I wanted to turn Max into such a swanky macho. But he should deal with it how other men persuade women and that there is a wide range of role models between the affectionate shoulder-rubbing hangover and the ruthless cheater. Of course, Max had to become the man he wanted to be. So more of a sophisticated George Clooney than halloumi. But Clooney is also believed to push a woman against the wall and tell her how good she is …

The last time they left my practice, I looked after them out of the window. I saw how Max pulled Caro up to him and whispered something in her ear. She laughed. They got in the car and drove away. To this day I haven’t heard from either of them. I know this is a good sign.

 

"We love each other, but we no longer have romance"

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