If it had to be done again, she would do it again without hesitation. While her daughter is going to marry this summer, Laure cannot help but think back to her own marriage, more than twenty-five years ago. “We were all fire, young, beautiful, we thought that the future belonged to us”, she smiles, before recognizing that the continuation of the adventure did not flower with the gun. “I didn’t know that my husband would be the one with whom I was going to share great happiness, of course, but also chores and worries. “
→ MAINTENANCE. Belinda Cannone or the wonder of the couple in love
After many years of living together, Anne was moved by a recent remark from her companion. “One of our teenage sons stood up to me. His father intervened and asked him to tone it down, because he had never met “a better-willed person” than me. It touched me because marital love is that: we’ve been through a lot together, we know we’re not perfect, but we still admire each other. “
Such tenderness, however, is not always straightforward. While love is a value celebrated above all, the conjugal couple is often ridiculed. We advance through the pages of magazines that it would be vaguely boring, contrary to the zeitgeist which bares the body and advocates performance. It would correspond to the suspended and vaguely boring time of a long Sunday in the countryside. Moreover, it would be doomed to failure, argue the pessimists, since more than one in three marriages ends in divorce.
The lasting couple is always a dream
Sociologist Christophe Giraud, however, calls for more nuance. The lasting couple, he believes, is always a dream. Today as yesterday, young people are driven by the same need to believe in it and the desire to live together. Proof of this optimism, formalized couples remain frequent: if we add the number of marriages and that of PACS, there were 443,606 formalized unions in 2018, i.e. more than in 1972, during the heyday of marriage. “Of course, the youngest, before making a serious commitment, had stories that did not work and know that love is fragile. Yet they do not give up on this ideal. Engaging today means “forever” ”, assures the researcher.
How, then, can we explain that it is so difficult to keep oaths and promises? Part of the explanation lies in the very nature of the couple, which brings together great feelings and the harsh realities of everyday life. If love is ethereal, the couple has both feet in the concrete. Also, the unions that best resist the wear of time are those in which “The almost friendly part is important”, describes sociologist Emmanuelle Santelli. According to numerous works, “The good partner is the one who makes it possible to achieve”, she says, the one with whom we feel good and on whom we can count in the face of obstacles. Complicity, being able to laugh and discuss together to face life’s challenges form the cement of a lasting relationship.
“Understanding the mystery of the other”
The psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Jacques Arènes confirms the essential role of this conversation. “The couple is the place of exposure. The spouse is the one in front of whom we reveal ourselves, both literally and figuratively, the one to whom we agree to show things of ourselves that we want to keep hidden from others. “
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To last, we must accept to hear the weaknesses of the other, his imperfections, his share of fragility, including at the heart of sexuality, “Since it is a form of letting go”, resumes Jacques Arènes. This trust supposes a part of mutual respect, but also a part of mystery, he believes: “The couple that lasts is one where each retains the desire to understand the other’s part of the mystery. “
“An ideal of unattainable perpetual enjoyment”
Sexuality plays its major role in this constantly renewed encounter, even if it is not as central as we sometimes think. The complexity of the love bond and its fragility even feed on expectations that have become too strong in the matter, considers Philippe Brenot, psychiatrist and couples therapist. “In the 1990s, a widely distorted discourse emerged, based on an ideal of unattainable perpetual enjoyment, he advances. If the couple didn’t have orgasms every time they had sex, they were dead inside. This idea made many people self-conscious and led to many separations. “
According to him, however, sexuality is not doomed to failure over time, provided that “Mourns the amorous shock of the meeting”, of this period in parentheses when sexuality triumphs. “On a neurobiological level, we now know how to explain this phenomenon. The hormonal arousal at the beginning of the relationship is very important, because it establishes the couple, but it ends up declining. The whole question then becomes to know how we are going to live it ”, sums up the doctor. Knowing how to adapt, listen to yourself, but also keep “Moments of shared secrets” would make it possible to constantly reinvent sexuality. “From time to time, you have to take a getaway, go to the countryside or to the sea together without saying anything to the others”, suggests Philippe Brenot. History of finding each other, far from the constraints.
→ VIDEO. Is Netflix killing the couple?
In songs – “If it weren’t for you”, by Rose
(album “Kérosène”, Jo & Co Ipanema Music, 2019)
“Rock you to my tunes
For you to remember
In a mother’s voice
Who invents his prayers
And tell you without counting
That I love you up to the sky
Beyond the sun
If it weren’t for you
It wouldn’t be for anyone
That I take all these steps
Which do not lead to Rome… ”
(Nathalie Lacube selection)