Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–VIII. Compatibility and Covenant
The issue of trust is likely to be especially important, if the members of the couple have been in other intimate relationships that have not been very trustworthy. One or both partners feel that they were “burned” in their previous relationship, and don’t want this to happen again. Kevin and Arlene met at work. They both remember seeing each other several times around the office. Their first date was very casual—sandwich at a local deli.
Arlene remembers being immediately impressed by Kevin’s “depth.” None of the questions he was asking her seemed to be superficial, which gave Arlene the feeling that this was not going to be another “pick up.” Arlene was surprised by how interested she was in Kevin. Most of the men she’d dated in their early twenties had turned out to be much too immature for her. Arlene was also intrigued by Kevin’s interest in punk music and “bizarre” night clubs. She was used to dating men with more traditional, conservative backgrounds.
Recalling their first date, Kevin and Arlene remember having a strong sexual attraction to each other, but more importantly, they remember the good times that the two of them had whenever they were together. They seemed to find something to laugh about in everything. They both used to feel that this was a sign of how open, honest and comfortable they were around each other. Now they realize that though they spent the majority of their time together, it actually took them years before they really opened up to each other or felt that they could trust in one another.
Kevin and Arlene each had been involved in prior “intense” relationships in which they had been hurt. Arlene was especially hesitant to become involved in the relationship because she feared the intimacy. She found herself going back and forth between wanting to make a commitment to Kevin and not wanting to be involved at all. Part of this conflict was a result of Kevin’s all or nothing attitude. For Kevin the covenant must include absolute commitment and trust. Arlene reluctantly agreed to this section of the covenant.
Kevin felt that his relationship with Arlene needed to be the deepest and most committed relationship that he had ever had. He admitted that he was totally infatuated with the relationship (rather than being specifically infatuated with Arlene). He was — as they say — “in love with love” and was ready to “run away and leave the world behind.” Kevin compared their early relationship to the movie Wuthering Heights, which he thought suggested that if the person you loved was not available, on a daily basis, “then life was miserable and not worth living.” Kevin insisted that they spend every possible minute together. In fact, Kevin and Arlene almost eloped together, but Arlene decided that they may regret doing something so hasty. Thus, another provision was established in their covenant: it’s important to be romantic, but there also is a time for practicality. Kevin will take primary responsibility for the romance. Arlene will handle the practicality.