“Living together is a clash of two microcultures”


Psychologies: Why, as soon as partners start living together, there is annoyance with each other?

Jean-Claude Kaufman: Even a honeymoon cannot do without it! At first, irritation is felt weaker, because they do not want to see him and everyone tries to suppress this feeling in himself. And the reason for it is that, starting a life together, it is very difficult to meet the other, his world and the new reality that is to be built together. It is difficult to realize the need to change, to move somewhere. Two partners test each other and decide what they can give up in themselves and what they can accept in the other. Irritation at each other is a sign that the process of unification has begun. The more a relationship tends to merge, the greater the risk of irritation. And so on until the common guidelines for the two are established.

Irritation is often associated with objects, their place in the house, but also affects the manners of the other, and his attitude to time …

We perform most of our daily actions mechanically, unconsciously. When it comes to simple procedures, placing objects, there are no two people who would act in the same way. And what happens? Mutual irritation. Living together is a clash of two microcultures. The couple is called upon to create a common culture, and irritation arises when the other manifests its characteristics.

Many women are especially annoyed that their partner is too “relaxed” at home, for example throwing things around …

For many of us, our couple is a “place” where we find peace. Returning home after a busy day means finally sheltering from prying eyes and being able to let go of the reins. This is how men tend to use their home. And this tendency can reach a real regression – a return to childhood forms of behavior. Feminine irritation refers not so much to this relaxation as to the fact that the man dissolves himself more and more and becomes less attractive.

More important is not the cause of irritation or its intensity, but its evolution over time.

Do the causes of irritation in us change over time?

Naturally: the little things that at first we barely noticed, gradually become more obvious. This can go on for quite a long time – five, ten, twenty years. With the advent of children, some stimuli disappear, while others begin to act more strongly. Children need to be set by example, which prohibits certain habits, such as being sloppy and lazy. In retirement, when people spend more time together, the gestures of the other, reminding them that he is different, remain the same, but more annoying.

So, are we doomed to never endure each other?

From the moment the movement towards each other slows down or stops, the damage from bouts of irritation becomes greater. Moreover, over time, some automatic actions are fixed: Alexander bites his nails, Nina is always late – and these features annoy their spouses. But more important is not the cause of irritation or its intensity, but its evolution in time. If Alexander or Nina does not give a damn about the fact that their behavior makes their partner nervous, the matter will end in an explosion, and their union will be threatened. It is necessary to make at least a little effort – even if it does not work. But we usually don’t know for a long time what annoys the other in us.

Can everyday irritation kill love?

The salutary thing in this story is that the stages alternate. At first, someone gets angry, and this allows you to express what has not been said. Then there is a desire to feel like a couple again. After the crisis, partners meet warmly, as after a long separation. But this only applies to those couples who are aware of the irritation and try to make it disappear. And those who stubbornly deny it and never talk about it – they can really destroy love.

Jean-Claude Kaufman

About the expert

Jean-Claude Kaufmann – psychotherapist, sociologist.

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