Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–V. Exploring the Founding Story
The founding story contains many important elements, the most obvious being what the two thought about and felt about each other the moment they met, the ways in which they first interacted with one another, and the immediate outcomes of this interaction. The process by which the story is told, however, often reveals much more than the content of the story about the governing variables (the “rules of the game”) that determine the ongoing nature of their relationship.
Attraction, Similarities and Differences
The founding stories of Dave and Kathy, a middle aged couple both in second marriages, and Ben and Karen, a young couple in their first marriage, were filled with emotions. However, in both of these instances the feelings were initially quite negative. This was not unusual. We found that many founding stories begin with feelings of dislike or even disgust, often as a result of differences between the two people. These feelings later turn to attraction (precisely because of the differences) and eventually infatuation and love.
Kathy began her story of how she met and fell in love with Dave by telling the interviewer that she was a waitress in a local steak house when Dave, a truck driver for a local drug store chain, came in one day for lunch. Upon seeing him enter the restaurant, Kathy immediately asked another waitress if she would serve him. Kathy indicated that Dave resembled her first boyfriend with whom she was involved during her teenage years. He was later killed in an automobile accident while stationed in the Armed Forces. Dave, however, was persistent in pursuing Kathy. He continued to dine at the restaurant for the next week, hoping he would get a chance for her to serve him.
On the tenth day of his return to the restaurant she turned the tables and approached his table. They began to speak. Over the next few days they would meet during her coffee break. Kathy had found in Dave a confidant to whom she revealed her ongoing struggles with her physically abusing husband. Like many battered women, Kathy felt helpless and afraid of her abuser, not knowing whom or where to turn for help. Slowly, Dave encouraged Kathy to leave her abusing husband and start a new life. Dave himself was suffering from an abusive relationship with his wife, only in this case his wife was the abuser. She was not physically abusing him, but was neglectful of both Dave and their two teenage children.