Life Style

Matching your rhythms, a challenge for the couple

With her belly just rounded, Emma (1) relishes her new status as a pregnant woman. She wanted this baby with her companion, but first they had to tune their rhythms. “We were very out of step for a long time, she said, measuring the distance traveled. When we met, I was 26 years old, he was 37. He was living in Paris, in an apartment he already owned, while Iworked in the provinces, with precarious status. I could have joined him then but I had just got a permanent contract and I didn’t want to let this chance pass by. The decision was not easy. But we always trusted each other because we knew we wanted to move forward together ”, she says.

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

The couple lived remotely for three years before moving into their own apartment. After this installation under one roof, Emma’s companion quickly felt ready to become a father, while she needed a little more time to project herself into the motherhood. The two, on the other hand, easily agreed on the purchase of an apartment for ” to give a room for the baby ”.

→ ANALYSIS. Being a parent, a challenge for the couple

Today, spouses assume more easily than before different desires and projects within acouple, where each “Try to stay in control of your existence”, according to sociologist François de Singly. The desynchronization of rhythms can however result from a social context, in particular for young couples, with the lengthening of the studies and the difficulties to find a first job. (read below).

Not being in sync on everything is normal

At 23, Lou is in “Remote couple” since four years. “I work in children’s fashion and I had to come to Paris because that’s where there are this sector, does she justify. My friend is a solar energy engineer and preferred to stay in the South of France where we met. ” The two Marseillais see each other more or less ” once a month “. Alternatively, one or the other “Go up” Where “Goes down”. For now, this organization suits them. Lou even admits that she “Is happy to find her space” after the moments spent together.

Installed 800 km from each other, they have found their rhythm of life but find it more difficult to agree on the desire for children. “At first my partner wanted it, I didn’t. With my job, however, I ended up changing my mind. Now, I want one. But for now the subject is put aside », Confides the young woman.

May couples not be “Synchro on everything, especially at the beginning of their history, is completely normal, observes sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann (2). Each arrives in the life of two with their own dreams, their own rhythms, their own world and it is little by little that the couple will forge themselves around common projects that require to walk at the same pace. “

TESTIMONIALS. Moving in together, a matter of timing and philosophy

Father Romain knows it too. During the preparations for the marriage that he animates, the Jesuit tries to warn the future spouses against the illusion of a fusional relationship where the two would always be in tune. “The challenge is to understand that the other is irreducibly other and that we must change our gaze: to see him no longer as I would like him to be but as he is., he notes. This question of rhythms will play out in major projects as well as in everyday life. “

Times of real sharing

When one partner likes to go out and the other is more homey or one owes and the other owes, couples sometimes have trouble keeping their rhythms in sync. “My husband doesn’t go to bed before midnight, 1 a.m., while I am often in bed around 9 p.m., says Stéphanie, in her fifties. We are very out of date, not to mention that he is always late and I am on time. MBut over time, we got used to it and everyone leads their lives a bit on their own. “

→ CHRONICLE. Why make a couple?

Personal moments continue to develop in the couple, confirms Jean-Claude Kaufmann:“60% of breakfasts, for example, are taken solo, he notes.This individualization of practices accentuates the expression of the shift in biological rhythms. Corn there are endless little negotiations and finds so that these differences do not accentuate the separation. So the early bird prepares the coffee and puts the bread to toast. The early eater is content to doze off and does not really fall asleep until after the little kiss in the evening. The couples find a way to compensate for the lags.

Building a common world

Geneviève de Leffe, marriage and family counselor at Le Cler, suggests alternating the times when each “Make an effort for the other so that there is neither winner nor loser”. Because, if these shifts may seem trivial, they “Are present on a daily basis and end up wearing down the couple, she warns. Reconciling biological rhythms is much more complicated than agreeing on life plans. When the spouses are not in phase in the big decisions, they can always discuss them to try to understand the reluctance and the needs of the other, including by getting help. It is also typically a reason for consultation of marriage counseling ”, she indicates.

Retirement: how to reinvent the life together and grant your desires?

The lags are often more present at the beginning of the couple’s story, when moving in together, getting married or having children. But they can also occur later, during retirement, when one of the spouses prefers to continue working.

However, such situations do not necessarily constitute a major problem for the couple, according to Jean-Claude Kaufmann. On condition, he said, “That there are moments of true sharing, attention to others and going beyond oneself which presuppose forging a world and common rhythms”. Thereby, Emma, ​​a few months before childbirth, she rejoices at the idea that her rhythms and those of her husband are harmonizing a little more. “With the arrival of the baby, we will discover parenthood at the same time and, as no one has any experience, we will no longer be out of step at all”, she considers.


For further


Daring the couple,

by Jean-Claude Kaufmann and Rose-Marie Charest,

The paperback, 2013, € 6.10

The French sociologist and the Canadian psychologist provide the keys to understanding the couple, this “third territory” to be created by spouses, at a time when it has never been so complicated to live together.

The 7 virtues of the couple,

by Bernard Geberowicz,

Ed. Odile Jacob, 2015, € 25.90

Psychiatrist specializing in family therapy, Bernard Geberowicz offers support and advice to nurture the couple relationship and make it evolve.

Am I going… or am I not going? Questions to ask yourself before getting into a relationship,

by Robert Neuburger,

Ed. Payot, 2021, € 15

After “Shall we stop? … shall we continue?” », The psychiatrist and family psychotherapist is interested this time in the engagement and the reasons for which one puts in couple.

The Retreat, a new life. A personal and collective odyssey,

Anasthasia Blanché,

Ed. Odile Jacob, € 22.90

The author, who accompanies couples in a situation of professional change, compares today’s retiree to Ulysses. Like the Greek hero, he must take a long journey and overcome obstacles to enjoy retirement.


The Key Love and Family, Christian voluntary association for marriage and family counseling. Phone. : 01. 44.14. 75. 75.

Family house, marriage and family counseling. Phone. :


The age of the couple

► Half of the women and men born in the 1950shad already experienced a married life at 21.6 years and 23.2 years. Among the more recent generations (1978-1987), this stage varies according to the level of education: 21.5 years for women and 24 years for men who do not have the baccalaureate, against 23.6 years and 26, 3 years for those who have a bac + 2.

► After the war, spouses were often employed at the start of their relationship (66% of women and 54% of men). This is less the case in the cohorts born between 1978 and 1982 (34% of women and 31% of men), where many are still students.

Source: Populations and Societies, 2015.


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