Girls forget their love after marriage

Marry your childhood sweetheart: recklessness or missed opportunity?

"Actually we shouldn't be where we were on the evening we met. We only met thanks to so many coincidences," say Stephan * (45) and Susanne * (42) from Braunau in Upper Austria. They met on October 25, 1994 in an inn. Susanne actually had an appointment there with her boyfriend at the time, but when she saw Stephan everything turned out differently. Susanne was 16 years old, Stephan 18 and after meeting him for the first time it was clear to him that she would be the mother of his children. "That's exactly what he said to his parents before he picked me up for our first date," says Susanne, while she sips her breakfast coffee and smiles across the table at Stephan.

Susanne and Stephan were together for eight years until they became parents. Both of them were the youngest children themselves, with a large age difference to their siblings and "rather old parents". Susanne says that it was always clear to Stephan and her to have children as early as possible. "Our parents had little time or energy to play with us, and the age difference meant that we didn't have the proximity to them that we wanted our children to be," she says. "It is important to us that our children tell us about their lovesickness and their experiences and that we go on trips together. Family is our top priority." The couple's values ​​were always identical. They would always have had the same ideas about life. Today Susanne knows that this is exactly what makes their relationship so successful.

Not many couples marry their childhood sweetheart or someone they started dating when they were under twenty. There can be many reasons for this, as psychotherapist Dominique Kotynek explains: "As a teenager, you have different priorities or expectations of life than you have as a young adult. During this time, you get to know a lot of new people, develop new interests, World views, life plans, and these can then differ from those of the second person. "

Bumpy start

Exactly these different interests were also a problem for Gabi * (38) and Matthias * (39) from Vorarlberg at the beginning of the relationship. They met when they were still at school, but the timing wasn't right for the couple at the beginning. "When we were together for the first time, I was 18 years old. Matthias was absolutely certain that we belonged together. But I didn't. I wasn't ready for a permanent relationship. In the first two years I had so often with him Broke up, I can't count it. His friends didn't understand why he wasn't just looking for another woman. But he knew that I was the right one. And he didn't give up. At some point I understood that he was my rock is in the surf and I can't imagine a future without him, "says Gabi. The couple now has two children, is married and lives in Vienna.

Looking back, Gabi sees many advantages in the fact that they got to know each other so early: "Between the ages of 20 and 30, you develop so many important aspects of your personality and your character is formed. During this time, we went to Vienna and spent a semester abroad together. In many cases you not only know the other person inside and out, but you also know where certain behaviors originate because you were there when they manifested. " Gabi cites the relationship with her own family and the resulting dealings with her own children as an example. "When you've known each other for so long and made so many decisions and compromised, the relationship has a depth that I believe you won't reach later on."

Psychotherapist Dominique Kotynek explains that the depth of the relationship is primarily about communication within the relationship: "Dealing with one another, communication, future plans that fit together, etc. are crucial for a functioning relationship. I think that is the secret of a good relationship Communication: Whether I am with my partners for longer or shorter periods is unimportant. They should be willing to work on the relationship and treat each other with appreciation and respect. "

The psychotherapist often recommends a kind of monthly or annual meeting to her clients. Anyone who thinks of a professional context quickly gets an idea of ​​the concept. The conversation is best conducted on neutral ground, and it can bring up topics that have worked well or poorly recently. It is particularly important to listen to the other person and not just add your own words.

Shared childhood memories

Regular updates on how they are doing in their relationship are also important for Johannes (26) from Vienna and his girlfriend. He has known his partner since early youth when they played together in the band, and over time, friendship developed into love and a relationship. The photo albums he shows have been filled with shared pictures since they were 13 years old. These show the two of them first as friends, then as a couple. "We developed together and grew into this relationship and only found out on the way what works for us and what doesn't. Nevertheless, I don't want to be just part of a couple. Since we've been friends for so long, we share almost all of the important memories It is important to give space to the dreams and desires and the personality of the individual. "

He himself repeatedly struggles with the thought of having found the right person too early: "In twenty years, I'm afraid that I will have the feeling that I've missed something. That a switch in my brain suddenly flips and I think to myself, I haven't acted out enough and then jeopardize a relationship that works well. " That is probably the definition of midlife crisis. Fortunately, John can express these doubts and thoughts in his relationship. Then they talk about it openly.

Therapist Dominique Kotynek believes that these concerns plague many people: "Everyone knows the worry of missing out too well. Be it sitting at home with a baby while others enjoy their independence, or when someone is having sex with different people let off steam and you have much less sex with your partner. " For Kotynek, this fear is completely normal and nothing to worry about. She advises couples to speak openly about the fears in the relationship. And this is exactly where active work comes into play again: "By consulting, I find out what my counterpart needs and I can express what I need," says Kotynek.

Required space

Sometimes the time you spend alone is also very important for a working relationship. Gabi and Matthias, the long-married couple from Vorarlberg, see the freedom they give each other as a recipe for success in their marriage and describe this as particularly important, especially since they have children: "Suddenly you have three roles. On the one hand you are Mother or father, you are a wife or a husband, and you are still an independent person who also needs time for yourself. It is not always easy that none of these three roles are neglected. "

Susanne and Stephan from Upper Austria, who have two grown children, are also familiar with this problem. Susanne says: "It is important that a relationship or a family is a give and take. If you are always only the one who gives everything, then that leads to frustration. When we had our son, our life was one Day after day completely different. We weren't prepared for that. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. Stephan felt neglected, especially at the beginning, as I concentrated all my energy on our child and motherhood. So we had to learn first, too Allow time for ourselves. We didn't want the kids to be out of the house at some point and we forgot each other as a couple, because then it doesn't matter how long you're together or how many memories you share. That's why it's important to get here early enough to react and appreciate each other. "

For Bettina (57) from Graz in Styria, the appreciation is something that she values ​​most about her marriage to Heinz (60). The couple began the relationship when Bettina was 17 years old, seven years later they married and had two children. "When I got pregnant, it was clear that I would quit my job at the Post to be a housewife and mother. Back then, there weren't any childcare options that are available today. My husband swore back then that he would always be around me financially no matter what. He felt my work with our children was just as important as his. It gave me a lot of security. " The couple has been together for 40 years and the marriage has not always been easy. "There were good times and bad times and everything in between. My husband gave me a completely free hand in raising children. I think that we avoided a lot of additional potential for conflict. When our first grandson was born two years ago, we were able to create a new, Share wonderful memories. This moment reminded us of all the good memories and moments of the last 40 years. These are the moments that count for us. "

Conclusion of the couple therapist

Dominique Kotynek sums up her work with many couples: "In my experience, couples who got together young and have been together for a long time give the impression that they question the relationship less. Couples who get together later often have the problem that everyone knows exactly what he wants and what he does not want. Couples who get to know each other at a young age grow into the relationship together, develop part of the personality in this phase and adapt it to the second person. These couples can often settle disputes more quickly . The reason may be that they are no longer willing to invest so much energy in small things or because the relationship is more important than the issue. "

* Name changed by the editor

Dominique Kotynek is a systemic family therapist who offers individual and couple therapies. She runs practices in Vienna and Perchtoldsdorf and has specialized in topics related to personality development, partnership, separation, depression, life crises, grief and addiction.