Do not put pressure on your partner by threatening to break up. It could break more than you like.

Jan hates this moment. He has seen him too often. In the middle of the quarrel, Laura suddenly cools down and says, “Maybe we should just forget it, it’s the same crap over and over again for years, I can not hear your allegations and you do not mean to let us finally see it and us separate.” And then she gets up or turns around and leaves. It used to panic him. Either he begged that they should please continue to try, did not let up, kept making offers for talks. Or he got so angry that he only “Yes, exactly, then you finally have what you want! You stupid idiot, look, how you can handle alone!” behind her.

Today, after four years of relationship, he has somehow become more indifferent. And yet he desires every time she finally stops to part with him as soon as it becomes difficult between them. Jan’s wish is understandable. We know his feeling from our childhood. We played with our friends, were negotiating new rules, then there was a fight, and someone said, “Now I do not play anymore!”, Promptly left the field, threw the cards or swept the pieces off the board. And we curled in helpless wrath and never wanted to play with this spoilsport again.

Oskar Holzberg is 60 years, psychologist and married for 30 years. For more than 20 years, he has been advising couples and knows the typical conflicts.© Ilona Habben

In each game we feel unfairly treated or foul ourselves. We can fix it as long as no one stops the game. Likewise, in relationships we are exposed to the allegations, threats and despair of our partner. And we can and must deal with it. But a threat of separation has a different quality. It questions the relationship itself and thus the basis on which conflicts can be carried out. It is always necessary to clarify a relationship and sometimes argue violently, so that closeness can be lived again. But to be able to show so much of ourselves, we need the certainty that the other will not let us down because we are now becoming difficult for him.

Whoever recklessly, or because he wants to prevail with it, threatened with separation, destroys exactly this security. Because the partner will react to the threatened separation. Clinging or angry, or even beginning to think about separation. And the more insecure the relationship feels, the more urgent clarifications are, but the harder they are. Anyone who separates constantly, is also not taken seriously, if at some point seriously doubting the partnership. Therefore, it is important that separation threats are not simply ignored, but clarified and withdrawn. The separation hovers over a partnership like death over life. It is possible at any time. And a couple is always just a couple, as long as both define themselves as partners. Therefore, we should neither threaten separation nor pronounce it prematurely. We should never abandon the field of love lightly.

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