LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
In the past, this escalation has reached a point of bitter disagreement between Wendy and Steve, marked by a screaming argument and withdrawal from each other. Even now, like many longstanding couples, they constantly retrace old steps in more or less the same ritualized manner until it becomes a Möbius strip with no beginning or end. The difference now is that the force of the conflict has been greatly lessened by so much conscious review (as a result of some well-timed counseling), laced with a pinch of acceptance, some good humor and a strong desire on both of their parts to remain in their relationship. They have done their best, or worst, to change each other, and a few minimal changes have moved them closer together; but at the deepest levels, where anxiety rules, they have been forced to recognize each other’s irrational, outrageous humanness—and they accept it in one
Conflict regard careers often center on parental or community expectations that continue to have a powerful impact on one of the partner’s expectations regarding the other partner’s career. Sam, for instance, reports that he has always been “at odds” with Caroline’s family regarding his decision to pursue a career in church music (directing a church choir). The “rub” here seems to be that there is notoriously little money in such a career. Thus, a career in this field hardly holds any kind of “future” for those who pursue it. Sam reports that Caroline’s family is always after him (and they “bitch” at her a lot, too) for him to get a “real” job. Since Caroline’s family lives on the East Coast and Caroline and Sam live on the West Coast, they are easy to ignore as far as Sam is concerned.
The interviewer asked Caroline if she agreed with her family’s opinions about Sam’s career. She said (with a sense of resignation) that she wants Sam to be happy, but that she, too, would like to see him land a better paying job. Caroline mentioned that they have no savings and Sam has no sense of responsibility for money. He has ruined their credit rating by not making payments on time. They can’t get a major credit card, and financially have absolutely nothing to fall back on in the case of an emergency. She was quite ill at ease in talking about this. Sam validated the truth of Caroline’s statements, but did so with an attitude of indifference.