It is not uncommon for couples in therapy to present themselves with one partner more functional than the other. One of them is categorized as the patient who needs to change to improve the relationship. There is sometimes a partner who thinks he is more mature than the other and regularly criticizes his lover for shortcomings.
Typical cases of dysfunctional couple
Type #1: The Organized and Disorganized Couple
The first partner is very organized preparing everything for the family and the couple. She makes sure everything is in order and everyone is happy. There is no task too big or difficult for this person. She has very little time for herself, but this is not a problem, because she likes to help. She is often valued and impresses others by his energy, devotion and motivation to undertake everything.
The other partner is rather disorganized and often forgets daily. He/she has difficulty managing children or planning a social event. He-she can be very social and become the entertainment at parties, but he-she doesn’t have the ability to plan this one. When he tries to help, it often ends up being a disappointment. He/she tends to be demanding of their partner in terms of sexuality.
Type #2: The rational couple and the emotional
The couple everyone knows. One of the partners lives fully and strongly his emotions to the point of having no control over them and the second who is perceived as the person posed and sure of himself. The emotional partner needs to be reassured regularly and would like his other half to be more open emotionally and intimately. This person seeks fusional intimacy to feel a strong connection with their lover.
The rational partner finds that the couple would enjoy more satisfaction if he had less emotional outburst the other. He-she likes their relationship, but the impression of being in a minefield of emotion is regularly felt.
Type #3: The couple of the prude and the sex maniac
You will easily become that this couple has difficulty matching their level of sexual desire in quantity and quality. Adventure and curiosity are essential traits in the sexuality of the sex maniac where he-she would like to try everything in their sexual relations. On the other hand, the more prudish person often has reluctance and does not dare getting too far out of their comfort zone. This person likes to make love romantically and with great affection. The other is ready to have sex at any time and jump on any possible opportunity to have it.
What couple are you?
You may have recognized yourself in one of the case histories or you have your own situation. One of you considers yourself more mature or functional than the other. However, as a general rule, romantic relationships bring partners of the same level of maturity together. In fact, the dynamic remains in balance when one of the partners remains dysfunctional. This process is called the borrowed operation*.
Couples develop systems to keep the relationship balanced. These systems allow each of the partners to camouflage their insecurities and shortcomings. We therefore have the impression that one of the partners is more mature and stable than his spouse. When the partner “less” mature matures, it destabilizes the other who tries to resume his position as a partner “more” mature. Often in couple therapy, it is possible to observe this dynamic where the “mature” partner becomes disorganized, because he/she can no longer obtain the valuation that he/she obtained in the old dynamic. She then tries to regain balance by destabilizing the other partner again.
Let’s take a look at the examples mentioned above. In the first situation, the disorganized partner begins to take charge, becomes less demanding with regard to sexuality. He then becomes less dependent on the other and no longer values the other in his role of being the person responsible for the couple. The organized person received a lot of recognition that we depend on him, but secretly he fears that he will not be lovable if we do not have need her. These people keep others in this dynamic of dependence to nourish their esteem, while criticizing that their partner lacks initiative.
The couple rational/emotional destabilizes either when the Partenaire Rational (PR) opens up emotionally and reveals more, because it creates discomfort in the Partenaire IT’Smotionnel (FOOT). the FOOT is so used to having a partner who is rational and intellectual that this new version is no longer natural. They chose this partner because it would hide their own inability to be deeply intimate. They still had a barrier that kept him from reaching that depth of the relationship.
The reverse may also be true. If the FOOT no longer seek validation through their partner to be reassured and comforted, the PR feels useless, as her role has changed in the dynamics of the relationship. He fears that their FOOT find a more interesting person.
The difference in the level of sexual desire plays an extremely important role in the borrowed operation. If the partner with more sexual desire stops being in constant demand of the other, this generates insecurity for the spouse with less sexual desire. He begins to feel less wanted, because the constant validation of the partner who always had desire suddenly disappears. The relationship of dependence is attenuated and he can no longer take the other for granted.
The partner with less desire might find it irritating to be constantly asked for sex, but once that subsides other fears emerge. If my partner no longer wants me, will he go elsewhere? It is very comfortable to be the partner who is desired vs the one who desires the other.
If the partner with less desire begins to be more enterprising and active in sexuality, the spouse loses his role too. They are no longer the sex leader or expert, but must take on a follower role. This is often a role that they are generally not very comfortable taking on. They liked to have the position of authority in sexuality and stayed in their comfort zone when choosing this sexual style. When their spouse takes charge, they have to live in an unknown terrain of sexuality that is not theirs.
Getting out of a dysfunctional relationship
Are you ready to see your partner as an equal in your relationship? Really? Can you see yourself as the equal of your spouse? How important is your partner’s perception of you? Are you ready to be less dependent on your role in your dynamic?
These questions are fundamental if you want the relationship to change significantly. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to improve yourself personally and confront your respective insecurities, the chances of having a better relationship become slim. Take the time to think about the benefits of doing this in your relationship and determine if you really want to make the necessary changes. It involves losing those relational advantages and transforming your relationship to grow and become more mature. Rather than stagnating and maintaining frustrations and conflicts.
Sexologist psychotherapist Montreal
* Concept by David Schnarch
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I am more mature than my partner – le sexologue.ca
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