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When couples fall into the addiction trap

When couples fall into the addiction trap

Dependencies can also occur in partnerships

People in partnerships can become interdependent. However, most associate addiction only with alcohol or drug addiction. However, relationships of dependency can also arise in marriages or civil partnerships, which can have serious consequences. Experts from the professional association of German psychologists in Berlin advise you to seek professional help if you show early signs of an unhealthy relationship with your partner or to get involved in advance.

Financial dependency is still widespread
People can become dependent not only on drugs, medication, cigarettes or alcohol. In love relationships it often happens that one partner can no longer manage everyday life without the other. The first and still low-threshold dependency is financial. "Until the 80s, women were economically dependent on their partners due to poorer educational qualifications and less employment," explained Andreas Klocke, professor of sociology at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt am Main to the news agency "dpa". This is still often the case for older women or migrants. Nowadays, however, many women are hardly or no longer dependent on the male partner. Many go their own professional paths and want to realize themselves.

Mutual dependencies
A dependency does not have to be one-dimensional. "There are many relationships in which the two are mutually interdependent," reports Walter Roscher from the Professional Association of German Psychologists in Berlin. For example, spouses buy a house. In order to pay off the debts, both have to raise funds. But nobody alone can finance the house alone. This leads to mutual economic dependency.

A mutual economic dependency is relatively easy to recognize, often exists and can hardly be avoided in many places. Many couples are not aware of this. Roland Kachler, head of the psychological counseling center of the Diakonie in Esslingen, advises couples to have a conversation. "It has to be talked about". Ideally, before an apartment or house is bought with a loan.

The second form of dependency is practical life. Relationships often have gender-specific tasks. "The man is responsible for repairs, cars and insurance, the woman for the household and children," said sociologist Klocke. Everyone would do what he sees as his strengths and thus relieve the others. But the more autonomous your partner does these everyday tasks, the more difficult it will be for others to take on these tasks themselves if the other person dies or there is a separation. Suddenly they are confronted with tasks that they had previously assigned to the other partner. Many find it difficult to get involved in areas that they sometimes had nothing to do with for decades.

Avoid grinding in habits
Agreements are "A and O", ideally during the first relationship. "In the course of the relationship, it is important to avoid grinding in habits," says Gritli Bertram, graduate social worker and partner consultant from Hanover. Within the relationship, both should always be asked whether the distribution of tasks is still consistent or whether something needs to be changed. An alternative would be to teach your own tasks to the other. “Cooking together, building, cleaning or clarifying insurance matters can also be more fun for two,” says Bertram.

Emotional dependencies in partnerships
The third form of dependency in partnerships is emotional. "It is quite normal and part of the nature of a relationship that the partners are mutually dependent on each other," says psychologist Kachler. As long as both partners also have the feeling that they can live alone and are not dependent on the practical recognition of the other, an emotional bond that happens on both sides can have a stabilizing effect on a relationship. However, the feeling should not arise that one disadvantagees the other partner or rules over him.

Take warnings seriously and meet them
The first warning signs of a psychologically unhealthy emotional dependency are, for example, when one partner adapts excessively, defers his own needs, avoids conflicts despite the opposite opinion and clings strongly to the other person's uneasiness. The relationship does not feel good in such a situation, sufferers suffer from lovesickness in spite of partnership and sexuality is getting more and more background. "Most people don't notice the unequal relationship until late," says Bertram. The signals creep in slowly in everyday life.

The level of feeling is very difficult to grasp for most people, including those affected themselves. As in a company, however, it helps to draw up a regular balance sheet. Once a year, the partners could get together and reflect on the past. Both could ask each other in the conversation whether they feel comfortable. An uncomfortable feeling should be expressed openly, and “expectations should be addressed,” says Roscher.

Maintain autonomy in the partnership
Before excessive dependencies arise, preserving your own independence can protect you from them. "Friendships can also be cultivated independently of the partner and also on their own." This prevents you from not being emotionally fixated on the partner alone. Talking to people outside the partnership also helps to reflect on what they have experienced. This makes it possible to direct a different perspective from the outside towards your own relationship. (sb)

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