Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–VIII. Compatibility and Covenant
We are inclined, in other words, to be attracted to someone who fills a psychological gap that we cannot ourselves fill. Yet, partners begin to learn from each other later in their relationship, and reclaim aspects of themselves that they have disowned or ‘Left dormant for many years. Thus, partners become more like one another late in life as they seek to reintegrate all aspects of themselves (what Jung calls the movement toward “ego integrity”). The issue of similarities and differences among partners seems to hinge on this intrapsychic change over time and the ways in which partners learn from one another. Information garnered from our interviews suggests that partners should compliment rather than duplicate each other during their early years together. The partners must understand and honor these differences. They also must learn from each other (especially during later stages of relationship) and eventually become more alike.
We see this typical emphasis on difference in the early relationship between Jeannie and Bob who were as different as they could be when they first met, but now are becoming more alike in certain respects. When they first met, Jeannie was very attracted to Bob’s rebelliousness. He was the drinking, drug-using rebel that she would not allow herself to be. In her family, it was too important to receive approval and Jeannie saw her only chance at approval and love coming to her through being a good and obedient daughter.
Bob saw in Jeannie a hurting person from a cold and unloving family. He describes growing up with alcoholism in his own family. It may be that within his relationship with Jeannie he saw an opportunity to rescue and care for her and thus heal his own pain. Yet, as they have grown older together, neither Bob nor Jeannie has stood still. Jeannie became more rebellious. She began using marijuana and amphetamines with Bob for about four years. During this period, both described the times as good and the relationship as close. Jeannie was “totally there” for Bob. The drugs helped to break down her inhibitions. However, she later felt that had “abandoned” their children and her job by focusing so much attention on Bob. As a result, Jeannie stopped using drugs and shifted much of her attention back to their children and her work. Bob “drifted a lot” as a result, and was drunk seven days a week. He became more introspective, focusing primarily on his drugs and his relationship with Jeannie. Bob and Jeannie fought a lot during this two year period of time.