Modern Couples, The Biggest Threat Isn't Infidelity

Contemporary relationships are challenged not just by naughty temptations, but by competing personal interests and professional goals. How modern couples reflect whole new values.

Need to be more alone than this?
Need to be more alone than this?
Diego Geddes

BUENOS AIRES — Daniela was out with friends last night. When she came home, her husband Marcos was asleep. And then she was asleep when Marcos woke up to go to work. He kissed her good morning, pulled the covers over her and grabbed his sports bag. He would be the one coming home late that day, after playing soccer and eating out with friends.

Over the last 48 hours, the couple has only spent a half-hour together. But they have chatted on the messaging application Whatsapp during this time, discussed home affairs and even told one another they missed the other. Yet neither is willing to forego their individual personal lives (soccer, girls’ night, etc.) or give up their work (both are professionally happy). Even still, perhaps theirs is a normal modern marriage.

After all, a poll conducted by consultants D'Alessio IROL shows that more than half of couples spend less than five hours a day together. That’s because couple life competes with so many other activities: being on the computer, watching television, reading — or just the need to be alone. But only 15% of poll respondents see that as a problem. Generally, they respect and enjoy the principle of separate activities during the day, while spending as much time together as possible during weekends. The mobile phone is a great ally, as 80% of couples use technology to keep in touch when obligations impede that.

“Love has to find its place, in an era when time is of the essence,” says psychoanalyst Any Krieger. “There is also the necessity of being happy. ... Today, the relationship competes with the desire for personal experiences, pleasure and the idea of self-improvement.”

Psychoanalyst Eduardo Drucaroff says couples grow into how to divide their time between individual pursuits and the life of the couple. “Choices are always relative,” he says. “These are decisions couples make in time, so each one has his or her margin of freedom that boosts individualism.”

People may have shared more time in the past because, for example, the woman wasn't working then — and was, in some cases, waiting for the man to return from work.

Krieger says there was a time when amorous ties depended on the amount of time people spent together. “But this is not the case anymore, and there is a new paradigm tied to the idea of each partner seeking his or her own well-being,” she says. “And it's related also to the woman's entry into the work world. Which means that working time, training hours, travel — all got in the way of couple time.”

The right balance

Yet few would say distance does a couple good. While this type of relationship contributes to keeping desire alive and encouraging them to want to be together, it can be a problem when one support. Spending too much time apart could even lead to other relationships.

Such cases are common. Cecilia and Gabriel, for example, live in Burzaco, outside Buenos Aires. “I leave the house at 6 a.m., and kiss him goodbye when I go,” Cecilia says. “But he is asleep because he arrived from work at 11:30 p.m. As you can imagine, I'm not going to wake him up. And it's like this every day. We get along well, we have plans together, we're happy, we want to have a child. But we don't see each other often. Which is why we make the most of weekends and holidays.”

Drucaroff says this kind of relationship could be “a mechanism to avoid dependence.” If people don’t feel sufficient trust and security in a relationship, they can use this lifestyle to escape or to hide inside excessive independence, “and protect themselves from the fears related to affective dependence.”

Economist and human resources specialist Alejandro Melamed says the key is in finding a balance. Often it's about “knowing when to put on the breaks to avoid feeling crowded in in any of our activities,” he says. “In recent years, there has been an important evolution in finding the balance in various aspects of our lives — family, health, work, social life, hobbies, careers, physical activity, personal needs. etc. Balancing personal and work lives has evolved toward a Fully Integrated Life. The great change is inside each of us, not outside. That's how we can become better professionals and people.”

Suddenly telecommuting and recovering certain family ties clash with “kisses” sent on the phone, as an Argentine song goes. There is no ideal recipe. As one psychologist says, the “formula for happiness has not yet been invented. We're in the trial phase.”

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

➡️


We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Thoughts on Facebook's new name? Zuckerverse? Tell us how the news look in your corner of the world: Drop us a note at!

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!