Love Lingers Here: Enduring Intimate Relationships  VII. The Marker Event—Establishing A Commitment as A Couple

Love Lingers Here: Enduring Intimate Relationships VII. The Marker Event—Establishing A Commitment as A Couple

Most often we found that the marker event is some special event that requires a mutual commitment of both partners, or a gradually accumulating set of small events that gradually bring the two partners to recognition of their mutual commitment. Many contemporary couples think that lifelong commitments require something much more distinctive and profound that either sexual relationships or a formal ceremony. When Christine and Rebecca decided to make a commitment to one another, each still had “business” to clean up with other lovers and casual partners. Christine had been dating two men at the time, one of whom she was particularly interested in letting down gently. She asked Rebecca if it would be okay to have a “farewell f–k” with this gentleman. Rebecca said no, or she would break Christine’s legs. This statement has become “forever, or I’ll break your legs” and is one of the dominant themes of their relationship and covenant. It is manifest in a tangible — though symbolically indirect way whenever Christine tends to withdraw from Rebecca during a fight they might be having.     Rebecca literally breaks something of Christine’s (not her legs, fortunately), and with this dramatic act the silence between them is typically broken and Christine re-engages with Rebecca in their relationship.

As a result of this strong, sometimes violent component of their covenant, Christine and Rebecca are able to talk about and monitor with each other their own temporary attractions to other people — knowing that they will never act on their attractions without risking the “breaking of a leg” or, more importantly, the breaking up of the relationship. Rebecca mentioned that if she gets a “little crush” on someone, she comes home and shares the experience with Christine. She thinks this works because of their commitment to truth and to each other. Christine admits to jealousy. Christine successfully brings old lovers into her life as friends, but she can’t always let Rebecca do so, if she thinks that the third party has other than friendly interests toward Rebecca.

Recently, Rebecca had a dinner with someone that was not about business. Christine heard little from Rebecca about the outcomes of this dinner. She had a dream that night about the dinner which sent the message that it was alright if Rebecca and her dinner partner necked, but if they had sex, she’d kill both of them. Then, Christine half awoke from the dream and decided to re-dream the conclusion of the dream: even if they necked, she’d kill both of them! Thus, the commitment is reconfirmed in many ways — always with the hint of violence or at least some strong negative feelings about the outcomes of any betrayal of this commitment.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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