Weariness, boredom, anger … The lights are red. It’s time to explore all the facets of your couple using this questionnaire concocted by three therapists. What’s wrong? What is still working? A balance to do alone or in pairs.
What are the main qualities of your couple? Can you identify the source of your difficulties? And sort out what can and cannot be improved or saved?
To support you, we asked three specialists to shed light on the aspects to explore: Robert Neuburger, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, couple therapist, and author of On arrête?… On continue? Make a couple of assessments (Payot); Patrick Estrade, psychologist, psychotherapist, and author of Being yourself, and no longer having wool sheared on your back (Robert Lafont); and Sylvain Mimoun, andrologist, gynecologist, psychosomatician and author of Shared Selfishness! The secret of happy couples (Eyrolles).
Take time to complete this work, alone or in pairs. Make it a priority in your calendar. Your answers should be as sincere as possible. Put them in writing, you can read them again and enrich them if necessary.
Evaluate the strength of your love
When conflicts intensify, when the feeling of being misunderstood becomes stronger, when resentments accumulate, it is difficult to know what you really feel for your partner. Feelings are the foundation on which our love stories are built. Let them falter, and the whole building falters. There is a great temptation to close the file of an “I don’t like it anymore, it’s over”. It is to forget that this radical conclusion expresses more our desire to put an end to a painful situation rather than with this man or this woman. Hence the first piece of advice from Patrick Estrade: “Do not jump to the conclusion, but move forward step by step, without prejudging the outcome of giving in to impatience. ”
To start your assessment, the psychotherapist offers these questions:
1. If you could solve all your problems, do you think that love, like the Phoenix, would rise from the ashes?
2. Do you feel that you want each other well?
3. Despite the problems, do your relationship and its environment remain very important to you?
4. How do you feel about projecting yourself into a life where you will no longer see your partner?
5. Do you feel loved/accepted for what you are?
6. Do you receive much more criticism and criticism than rewarding and supportive words or compliments?
7. Do you regularly emphasize what you appreciate in your partner, what appeals to you and affects you? And he does it?
Couple in love and cultural couple
The first, explains Patrick Estrade, is made up of the feelings that two people have. The second brings together everything they build together: a place to live, a lifestyle, a common culture, a family-in-law, but also values, ideals, projects, trials, memories. In his practice, the therapist has found that one can be emotionally detached from his partner – it is the bankruptcy of the couple in love -, but remain attached to his cultural couple, to what one has created with the ‘other. Having this distinction in mind helps to discern what is no longer suitable for us: a person or a way of life, and if we are ready to do without one and the other.
Positive acceptance, appreciation
For the psychotherapist, being able to express his affection and underline the qualities of the loved one are essential elements for the sustainability of the feeling of love and the pleasure of living together.
Spot the misunderstandings
It is a reality, observable by all: communication is the barometer of the couple’s vitality, of their intimacy. But as Robert Neuburger recalls, “the life of a couple is paved with misunderstandings and misunderstandings”.
Digital communication, analog communication
If human communication is fundamentally complex, observes the couple therapist, it is because we use two processes, which complement each other without ever being confused: digital communication (words, subject to interpretation) and analog communication (tone, gestures, bodily attitudes). In couples who get along, speech and facial expressions are easily decoded. On the other hand, among couples who do not get along, misunderstandings, misunderstandings, and bad interpretations abound.
failures Added to these difficulties is what the psychiatrist calls the communication deadlock (everyone wants to express their point of view while feeling that they are not understood or listened to), or even communicational falsifications (dissimulations, lies diplomatic or lies, bad faith, disinformation …).
To observe how you speak, Robert Neuburger suggests the following questions in his work:
8. Are you satisfied with the communication in your relationship?
9. Do you feel that you understand and are understood by your partner?
10. Do you think there are significant gray areas, subjects on which it is difficult, if not impossible, to communicate?
11. Do you sometimes voluntarily conceal from your partner some of your actions and some of your thoughts?
12. Do you ever deliberately lie to him?
13. Do you think your partner is capable of concealment, even of lying?
14. Has your couple ever been exposed to a deliberate lie from one or the other?
15. If yes, how did you manage this situation?
Measure your distance
Intimacy is both a feeling (being understood, being able to drop the mask, being in an understanding that can sometimes do without words …), space (the house, the bedroom), and a time (whatever the couple devotes to their “being together”).
The feeling of intimacy
Being intimate with your partner, feeling confident, supported, accepted as you are. Patrick Estrade invites to meditate on the right distance in the couple, which he summarizes as follows: “Close enough to be moved by the other, far enough to be surprised by him. And offers to answer the following questions:
16. Do you feel that you are (really) being listened to by your partner?
17. Do you really listen to him?
18. Do you regularly share what moves you, makes you laugh, fascinates you, or bothers you?
19. Do you have the feeling that your little faults and small manias are greeted with kindness/humor by the other? Is the converse true?
20. Are there thoughts, facts, or behaviors that you keep for yourself or share with others so as not to affect seduction in your relationship?
21. Is the familiarity (gestures, words, behavior) of your partner a source of emotion or annoyance and conflicts?
In La Maison Sur le divan (Pocket), Patrick Estrade explains what our places of life reveal about us. The layout of its interior speaks volumes about the couple’s ability to produce a harmonious common space, respectful of the uniqueness of each of the spouses, but also of the children. And at your home?
22. Does your place of living to respect your respective needs and tastes?
23. Are there, in the common space, rooms (furniture, objects) imposed by the other and which you cannot bear?
24. If you were to live alone, would the layout of your living space be radically different or substantially the same?
25. How does your interior look like your couple?
The time dedicated to the couple
To develop and strengthen, intimacy needs time. But, in reality, the one that should be devoted to the couple is very often sacrificed for the benefit of family, work, friends, and leisure. Patrick Estrade is in the habit of telling couples that he receives that their relationship must be thought of as a priority if they wish to make it more harmonious, closer to their ideal. Is this the case for you? These questions will help you measure the gap between your desires and reality:
26. Do you often postpone a couple’s plan (outing, traveling, time spent together at home) in favor of outside requests or constraints?
27. Do you feel that you lack quality time for your couple?
28. Do you and your partner take time for yourself?
29. If you had more quality time to spend together, how would you use it?
30. Are the tasks of the house distributed in a satisfactory manner for everyone?
Test your satisfaction
In matters of intimacy, each couple writes their score, follows their own tempo. Regardless of the frequency or duration of physical intercourse, only the satisfaction of each and the couple’s ability to communicate on any desired readjustments matters. Sylvain Mimoun offers you these questions:
31. Does the frequency of your intimate relationships suit you?
32. Do you feel desired and respected during these relationships?
33. Do you (sometimes, often, all the time, never) feel bored?
34. Do you (sometimes, often, all the time, never) consent to make love only to please others?
35. Do you (often, sometimes, all the time, never) adopt certain practices just to please or give in to pressure from your partner?
36. Ideally, would you like to make changes to your couple’s intimacy? If yes, which ones?
37. Do you feel an accomplice with your partner if you talk to him about intimacy?
38. Overall, would you say that your intimacy is satisfactory or that it is problematic?
39. If everything continued as it does now, would you say that everything is fine or that something is missing?
Identify your common desires
The couple is a living organism that evolves and whose partners try to reconcile personal achievement and fulfillment for two. The projects are an integral part of the couple’s life, they express their vitality, but also the degree of investment of each in the common life. One of the difficulties: reconciling duo projects and solo projects. Patrick Estrade invites you to think about it through the following questions:
40. Do you have at least one common project (vacation, decoration, leisure, work, family)? If not why?
41. Is this project recurrent, of the order of habit? If yes, do you still enjoy it?
42. Do you find your partner sufficiently invested in the future of your relationship? What about you?
43. Is it always the same person who initiates important projects in your relationship? If yes, is that right for you?
44. Are your project ideas for the couple generally well-received by the other?
45. Does your partner positively support your personal projects?
After exploring your feelings, your communication, your intimacy, your intimacy, your plans, ask yourself these subsidiary questions:
46. Have you approached this assessment with desire, that of better understanding your couple, of contributing to their happiness?
47. Were you surprised by a positive aspect of your relationship that you were not aware of?
48. Were you surprised by a negative aspect?
49. Did your partner also answer all of these questions? If not why?
50. At this point, how do you feel: enthusiasm or worry? What are they related to?
Let sit before moving on.