Life Style

François de Singly: “Affirmation of the individual complicates the life of the couple”

La Croix: Today, spouses assume different desires and rhythms. Is this a sign of individualism?

François de Singly: Before answering, we must first define individualism. If we refer to the definition given in the XIXe century, the one that comes to mind spontaneously is a form of egoism where the individual forgets his affiliations and therefore his different “we”, the conjugal “us”, in this case.

But there is another definition: that of the individual who tries to remain in control of his existence and his body, even in his affiliations. Rather, it is this form of individualism that is expressed in the couple.

→ CHRONICLE. Why make a couple?

In the past, only the man spoke in the name of “we conjugal”. But with the abolition of paternal power replaced, in 1970, by parental authority, the feminist revolution shook the couple. The whole story of the last fifty years is that of a feminist demand for an egalitarian “us” in which everyone can retain power over themselves and over the definition of the couple. The demand around the double name transmitted to children is an emblematic example.

Individualism in the couple, as you define it, is therefore a step forward.

F. de S.: From the point of view of women, undoubtedly. The demand for equality in the construction of the “conjugal us” is legitimate in the light of history. This is not an ego claim.

We must not forget that women have lived in conditions where their ego was secondary to the male ego. However, this equality is far from being achieved for all. Today, some of the thirty-something are not in any hurry to live as a couple, even if they are in love, because they tell themselves that once under the same roof, this “us” will become unequal and this they are the ones who will bear the cost of this inequality.

How to build this “we” taking into account the two individualisms?

F. de S.: The challenge today is not only that of the rhythms and projects of the couple but, more broadly, that of society to build an “us” which is not only defined by a social group. In a couple, each one arrives with personal territories and it is necessary to build a common territory.

→ CHRONICLE. Joint projects, a barometer of the couple

This can be symbolized by the child or a common practice. But now everyone wants to decide and not have the feeling that what they are experiencing is imposed by the other or by the rhythm of the other. There is no abandonment of “we” but the rules of construction have changed. This complicates the life of the couple a bit. We see it in particular in separations or divorces. If the woman is convinced that she has been dispossessed of the construction of “us”, she will consider that there is no reason for her to sacrifice herself for this “us” which rather serves the other.

Even so, it takes a little dedication in a relationship, and not just on the women’s side, as it has traditionally been the case, to overcome life’s trials. Otherwise, there is a risk of separation.


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