Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships–VIII. Compatibility and Covenant
Bernard similarly indicates that:
I have become more capable of seeing the difference between myself and others, and between my desires and expectations and my partner’s. I have begun to appreciate other people for their inherent qualities, independent of their capacity to gratify my needs. For me, this has been a difficult understanding. I have in the past equated much of intimacy with a kind of fused relationship. This is also changing, and is a significant development theme of our marriage.
These have been hard-won lessons for both Gwen and Bernard. “There has always been tension,” according to Gwen:
. . . related to [Bernard’s] need to have a woman who will share his passions. I love [Bernard]. That doesn’t mean I love ice climbing or kayaking or skiing. I think he hits it right on the nose when he says “I have in the past equated much of intimacy with a kind of fused relationship.” It is a fairly recent occurrence that we have admitted we are really much more different than we thought when we got married. I would harkens back to our marriage vows: “I promise that our love will consist of two solitudes, that border and protect and salute each other . . . I promise that there will be spaces in our together¬ness, to let the winds of the heavens dance between us.
For Gwen, differences that she observed in her parents serve as an important guide for honoring her own differences with Bernard:
We [Bernard and I] were, for several years, inseparable. Now we are establishing our own identities again. Admitting our differences can only be a good thing. Lord knows, my parents are as different as two people can get – and they still love each other. It’s easy to find a climbing or cycling partner. It’s hard to find someone you can live with, day in and day out, for 40 to 50 years. I believe we have put our finger on what really matters, the essential nature of our relationship that isn’t affected by who shares who’s sports or agrees on what toys to buy (if I may borrow [Bernard’s] terminology).