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PARTNERSHIP ENGLISH SELF-RESPECT IN YOUR PARTNERSHIP Interview: Torsten Schwick Mistrust, insults, absurd tokens of love: many couples are familiar with these problems. But what does it mean when a once beautiful relationship suddenly turns into a war of the roses? Life coach Sven Rebel, known from the TV format “Ganz schön Berlin”, talks to us about the need for control and why self-respect is so important in a partnership. Hello Sven, you often work with couples. In your experience, how do problems often arise in relationships? This of course comes down to the individual. But a lot of problems occur when one or both partners have lost their self-respect. Or maybe they never really had any in the first place. Self-respect is the degree to which we respect ourselves. It‘s about a lot of things: dignity, self-confidence and also trust in our abilities, i.e. how competently we act in certain situations. If we lack self-respect, we can no longer act specifically and consciously. This leads to problematic situations. How do these problems manifest? It is often the case that one party puts pressure on the other. The other party allows it, even though they – mostly or often – know that it is wrong. In that case, the “oppressed” party is the one with too little self-respect. Many people try to solve their own internal problems through their partner: by humiliation, by applying pressure or by instilling fear. Ultimately, there is always the need for control behind everything. When I‘m in control of someone, I feel better. It‘s a form of self-exaltation. It is not always the partner who triggers a lack of self-esteem. The problem is usually there before. But when a situation occurs with this lack of self-worth, the issue becomes larger. You start to lower your self-esteem more and more. Because you believe that if you still do this and that, if you make yourself smaller and respond to a lot of conditions and demands, then everything will be fine. But this behavior only makes the relationship and yourself weaker. That sounds a lot like “good versus bad”. But it‘s usually not that simple... Someone who doesn‘t treat their partner well isn’t necessarily doing it with bad intent, but maybe because they have found it can also be good for themselves. They have improved their own life and now the partner no longer fits into the old pattern. This is of course very bad and terrible for those left behind. But the supposedly “bad guy” has found fulfillment and satisfaction. As a coach, where do you start when something like this happens? First of all, I take a very close look at people‘s individual situations. Then I usually speak to the partners separately in order to first work through certain well-established routines and patterns. I try to understand people inclusive of their individual story, topic and feelings. Then we work together to find out how much the relationship is actually worth and how much appreciation they have for one another. The partners then express their wishes and needs and decide how much they are willing to do for the other. I do it like this because before anything you first have to know what you actually want. What are you ready to give and to give up? Don’t start by thinking about what the other one is doing wrong. Think about what is good for you. This is actually a painful process because 34 CHECK BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG #1

PARTNERSHIP you may have to admit that you have needs and desires that your partner cannot meet. When is it no longer constructive to work on the relationship? Arguments are good as long as you stay productive. Once an argument becomes personal, the line has already been crossed. From there it is very difficult to find a way back. For example, when the partner tries to exert pressure and control using insults and humiliation. Or they make difficult demands such as: prove your love for me by doing something specific or by not doing it. For example, if you let me see all of your text messages, I will know that you love me. That‘s the wrong way to approach it. If someone feels they have to impose a condition on another that violates their privacy and dignity, it is no longer about the relationship. It is about exercising control. As soon as such a humiliation happens in a relationship, an argument is no longer worthwhile. Humiliation is felt very individually. What is your advice if you are unsure whether your partner has gone too far? Knowing yourself is the most important thing. And the willingness to be aware of the things that are important to you. Then it is also much easier to formulate the expectations of the partner. The better I know myself and the more I am at peace with myself, the easier it is to have a relationship with another person. You can also use an argument as an opportunity to work on yourself and find out what triggered this problem in the relationship. What is my role in the relationship? How did we get to this point? However, you can also get to this point by simply not saying “stop” a year ago. Do you have a few more tips to prevent things from getting that far in the first place? You should never stop working on yourself. But it is not enough to just eliminate your own mistakes. Try to optimize yourself and make your own strengths stronger. Always work on yourself and on the relationship with positive motivation. In a partnership you have to put yourself first. There are situations where you take a step back to help your partner. But in general you always have to make sure that in everyday life you are in the best shape to be a good partner. Both physically and mentally. (ts,mb) Domestic violence Domestic violence is when people engage in or threaten to commit physical, psychological or sexual violence within an existing or dissolved family, marital or marriage-like relationship. In the event of an acute threat, please call the police directly on 110. Men who have been affected by domestic or sexual violence, for example, can call the toll-free number (0800) 1239900. CHECK BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG #1 35

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