Divorce rates in Denmark are among the highest in the world, making the word “parterapi”, Danish for couples therapy, of vital importance to a great number of Danish couples
Many people I’ve asked, see parterapi as a last ditch effort prior to divorce. Dissatisfied and disgruntled for a long time, one may have tried with long talks and arguments. Nothing helps. One may have spoken with friends and relatives, priests and bartenders – good advice is hard to find. Eventually one is close to giving up.
Parterapi is the last resort in an attempt to save a relationship on the downslide. Many also perceive having to pay for help, to make a loving relationship work, as a defeat. And it’s probably expensive as well. . .
When a couple arrives at therapy, the expectations of the two individuals are very often quite dissimilar. For some the end has already been reached. Hope is gone and help is needed to end the often painful situation. The man, or the woman, may not really want to go into therapy but has let him/herself be “dragged” into therapy so as not be regarded as the one who, in the end, wasn’t willing, or able to take part in the rescue attempt.
Many arrive in the hope that some quick advice will be forthcoming that can help them get back on track so they can continue with the happy realtionship they had before it all went wrong.
– and many are told, to their surprise, that the therapist cannot offer a magical cure. They discover that they need to begin a period of hard work and that the help they can get from a therapist consists of guidance and support in the rebuiding of a stable and trustful relationship. They also discover that it may take more time than they thought and that the work involved may be harder than anticipated and that progress may not be smooth but that relapses can be expected. Hopefully they will share laughter and tears along the way and find the courage to continue.
It takes courage to reveal oneself to another. Courage to share one’s thoughts and aspirations, courage to share one’s innermost feelings. It takes courage to show one’s strengths and weaknesses and courage to stand up – fearful and without protection – and encounter another, open and vulnerable.
Boy ! Not strange that so many give up after a couple of tries. Or never even begin.
For those who make the effort and succeed, it has been well worth the work. The results of therapy are an increase in self confidence and in confidence in each other and in the relationship. Therapy provides strategies for solving future problems and difficulties, increased insight into ways of confronting the world and an understanding of how differences are important. The couple learns how they can help each other achieve the dreams neither one can achieve on his/her own.
And often they ponder: “What made us wait so long?”, “I wish we had known all this long ago”, “Just thionk of how happy we could have been all this time.”, “If only we had known”