LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
In the past, our society placed major importance on the economic functions of heterosexual couples and the families that these couples produced. Husbands, wives and children jointly produced the food, clothing and shelter that the family needed for subs i stance. Today, the economic function is equally as important, though infinitely more complex and even contradictory. In many states, the economic “reality” of a couple is formally defined by community property laws. The couple is a reality because it exists as a single economic unit, with undifferentiated financial resources and real property whether or not both members of the couple feel like they are participating in this unit.
The social aspects of the couple’s relationship are equally as important in defining its reality. Partners are often defined by their relationship with the other member of the couple: “That’s
Susan’s husband.” “Jim’s the one who is married to a lawyer.” “That’s Mrs. (John) Jacobsen.” The couple is invited to social gatherings as a single social unit, and usually entertains other couples rather than single people. Many young couples speak of losing contact with single friends after becoming a couple. Some couples restrict the contact one or both members can have with other people after becoming a couple. After becoming “attached” many people, for instance, are no longer able to go out with friends of the same or opposite sex. The dating of other people is usually, though not always, prohibited.
This developmental plate typically becomes prevalent at an early point in a couple’s history. It may not necessarily be at the forefront immediately after the couple has been formed. Many young men and women seem to avoid the economic and social implications of their union with another person until after this union has occurred. The disillusionment process associated with the first plate often is exacerbated by a growing recognition that commitment has its price, An intimate relationship requires restrictions in social interactions and requires considerable attention to the often stressful issues of income and expenditure.