LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
Sally and Max have had just as much trouble in combining their financial resources. Money is a hot topic for these two sixty-year old teachers. Like Christine and Rebecca, they each have their own checking accounts and both contribute to a mutual household account out of which the day-to-day bills are paid. They figure out the amount owed and split the bills in half carefully so that no one pays more than the other. Neither has access to the other’s money, nor knows how much the other actually has.
Max talked about sharing the kitchen by trading the “spoon” every week. When the spoon (with a ribbon on it) is handed over to the other person, that person has access to the kitchen and assumes the responsibility for next week’s meals. Max is a “meat and potatoes” man, while Sally is a “brown rice gourmet” woman. Obviously, they have found a very creative and effective way of working out their differences in the kitchen. However, when comes to financial matters and mutual possessions, the spoon has not easily passed between them. Max, in particular, has been very hesitant about letting go of his old life and possessions.
During the interview, however, a critical shift in this plate took place. Max stated that he had something to say and hoped it would not upset Sally. With some trepidation, the interviewer listened, while Max stated that he had wanted his house to be considered theirs and so some months ago he had gone to a lawyer and put it into both of their names. Sally turned white at this point, and the interviewer asked her if she had known about this. Sally said “no.” Max had always said that “the house would go to his sons when he died, end of discussion.” This was particularly poignant at this point in their relationship because Sally had been of invaluable assistance to Max in recent months as he confronted both his own life-threatening illness and the tragic killing of his youngest son by an unknown assailant. Finally, after almost two decades of living together, on and off, Max and Sally were establishing a permanent bond, symbolized in the shift of Max’s home to joint ownership. It is often in these tangible acts of mutuality that the forming phase of a relationship is finally traversed, enabling the couple to move into an enduring and enriching lifelong commitment.