When there is a crisis or breakdown in a relationship

The changed working and living conditions and Corona pose a challenge for partnerships. There is a growing need for counseling for couples at Pro Familia in Rüsselsheim.

When diplomacy fails, good advice is needed. The restrictions on the crown caused conflicts in the families. However, the ideal solution is not always available in therapy.
(Symbol photo: Shotprime Studio)

RÜSSELSHEIM – Working from home and social isolation during the crown pandemic was not good for married couples and partnerships. However, the number of cases at the Pro-Familia clinic in Rüsselsheim is not only increasing since 2019, family therapist Andrea Gürke gives insight into internal statistics. In 2017, Pro Familia recorded 240 counseling sessions for couples, two years later it was 385.

Due to the first blockade, from March to May 2020, the numbers dropped for a short time, so that the three employees of Pro Familia in systemic family counseling conducted only 283 interviews per year. However, according to Gürke, the share of peer advising in consultations has risen to around 31 percent, ten percentage points more than five years ago. In 2021, demand returned to 2019 levels with 383 customers.

Noticeable more requests for separation advice

“The changed working and living conditions during the pandemic have led to a noticeable increase in the number of requests for separation counseling,” concludes the family therapist. This applies to both younger couples in the exploration phase and older couples who are over 35 years of marriage. If children and partners spend more time at home because of coronary restrictions, it causes conflict, especially among couples and families in precarious situations. “The situation is made more difficult by the fact that there is hardly any living space available and moving out of a shared flat can take a long time,” says Gürke.


What do such conflict situations look like? The young mother stayed home with her toddler, while her husband was away on business all week. She was not allowed to meet more than one contact person. Clubs and organizations withdrew from their offers. Parents’ discussion groups were no longer meeting, the baby swimming was canceled, the toddler group around the corner was closed. The desperate mother turned to Pro Familia: “I am completely isolated, locked at home.” Frustration and desperation could harm the young family, and a solution was worked out together with the therapist.

The pros and cons of crown vaccination divide couples

Andrea Gürke tells about another case where a young mother was very afraid that her newborn might catch the coronavirus, which ultimately put her relationship with her partner to the test as well. The woman developed obsessive compulsive disorder. “She washed and disinfected everything, even disinfected clothes.” When the young mother did not dare to go outside with her child, the couple turned to Pro Familia and a little later received therapeutic help.

What if spouses have different views on corona vaccination? “The man was against vaccinations, his wife vaccinated herself and the children. This led to huge quarrels, ”recalls Gürke. The fronts were hardened, and discourse was almost impossible.

Advice is not always enough

These and other situations pose a great challenge for family therapists. Conflict resolution advice and practical life tips are not always enough. In legal matters, couples can take advantage of consultations in the field of family law at Pro Familia. Men and women about to break up would have questions about things like housing, finances, child support, custody and contact rights. Fortunately, domestic violence is rarely a problem.

In severe cases, the therapist may refer you to doctors and authorities. The Child Protection Association, Caritas and the educational and family counseling center in the Groß-Gerau district also offer help in difficult life situations. Anyone going for counseling for couples should not expect a family therapist to have an ideal solution ready. “A lot of people think I’m a judge and I’m drawing a red card,” says Gürke. But it’s not like that. Both would have to be ready to reconsider their position. But 60 to 70 percent of couples did not want to change their behavior.

“People are different”

Family therapist realization: “People are just different.” If a couple choose to go their separate ways, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, says Gürke. Not every relationship is happy. Rather, both sides would need to learn to deal properly with the conflict situation – be it fear of failure, obsessive-compulsive neurosis or vaccination debates.

This article was originally posted on June 11, 2022 at 03:00 AM.

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