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

A second marker event in the lives of Fred and Alice further solidified their relationship. Not long after moving in with Fred, Alice’s former boyfriend from France came over to try and win her back. However, after seeing Fred and Alice together, he told Alice to “marry him (Fred).” This was the “confirmation vote” that settled the issue for Alice. The critical, marker event often serves this confirming function. The couple (as a third entity) is confirmed by: (1) an external ceremonial event (e.g. a marriage), (2) a decision made by the couple (e.g. purchase of a common piece of furniture), (3) a third party (e.g. former boyfriend) or (4) by a meta-level analysis (“picturing our self”).

Disagreement about Marker Event

On occasion, the two people we interviewed could not agree on the point when they became a couple. They both identified critical marker events that for each of them indicated that they were now a couple. However, these events were quite different for the two of them. Gene and Margie identify very different times. For Gene it was about six months after they started dating. He felt it took him that long to believe that what was too good to be true had finally happened. Margie reported that it was two years before she felt they were a couple. She did not choose to elaborate too much on this, but the interviewer sensed that Margie was the one who would hold out and for whatever reason remains in a more judgmental stance on the relationship. It is she and her expressed discontent which has currently precipitated their decision to obtain marital counseling.

Neither could point to a single event that led to the sense of being a couple, rather it was a generalized sense of growing commitment. Perhaps, they have never really come together, and now in marital counseling they will be moving through a remarriage that will finally move them to a specific marker event when they will jointly make a commitment to one another. Margie’s judgmental attitude may be serving a very helpful function. It may keep the two of them from artificially declaring themselves a couple, when, in fact, they don’t feel like they are a single, committed entity.


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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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