Love Lingers Here: Stories of Enduring Intimate Relationships – A sample chapter
Love Lingers Here: Stories of Enduring Intimate Relationships by William Bergquist, PhD
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THE FIRST IMAGE: STABILITY AND REMARRIAGE
In our aspirations regarding the formation of a long-term, enduring relationship we tend to look for stability and even tranquility — especially given the turbulence in virtually all other areas of our lives. Frieda and Vern, for instance, have lived together in remarkable tranquility for more than fifty years. When talking about their marriage, both Frieda and Vern were hard-pressed to identify any times when their marriage was in tr even after having raised three children, lived through a bankruptcy together, and confronted (like all long-term couples) radical changes in the world in which they live. One wonders if Frieda and Vern either are hiding their problems from the interviewer perhaps even from each other — or if they truly lived in a simpler place and time, in which couples truly could live happily ever after, with minimal need for soul-searching reexamination of their personal lives or their lives with one another.
When we look at Patrick and Mary Anne, one of the younger couples that we interviewed, we find a clearly articulated vision of stability and tranquility that seems to parallel that described by Frieda and Vern. Yet for Patrick and Mary Anne, this vision seemed quite out-of-keeping with the era in which they grew up. Perhaps it was wishful thinking brought about by viewing “Terms of Engagement” (a comparison between couples at various stages in their relationship or a blue color portray of marriage in “The King of Queens”. Or maybe repeated viewing of T.V. shows about nontraditional relationships that still offered traditional reassurance—such as “Friends”, “Sex in the City” or “Will and Grace.” How did these images influence the way in which they think about their own marriage?
Both Patrick and Mary Anne were initially hesitant to talk about their mutual aspirations for “it’s too serious a subject.” Patrick, however, volunteered the following image:
I always think of [marriage] positively. I’m kind of idealistic about it. I always think of good things about it, like raising a family, how the kids will be, how they’ll look, traveling with her, being more committed. This summer we did have some problems, so I see being married will be more intense because leaving (each other) will not be as feasible as before you are married. It’s not an option until the fatal end (laughter). . .when all else fails.
Clearly, for Patrick, a 22-year-old male, marriage is both attractive and a bit frightening. He knows there is a way out (divorce, death) but hopes that this will never occur. He goes on to be somewhat more specific about his image of marriage exhibiting by word (if not deed) a more “liberated” vision of the male’s role in marriage:
I see both of us working, going out, carrying equal responsibilities at home, like cooking, cleaning, laundry — depending on who is overworked. I see us spending a lot of time together, but I think we will have other friends. It’s hard to know — once you get married, all things change. I feel comfortable in sharing and having a joint account, as long as she does not get out of control. She does not like me to spend money on her, although I enjoy it. It’s fun for me to buy her things. I don’t like the fact that she doesn’t let me — although I would be broke if she let me (laughter).
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