LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVI. PLATE THREE: DECIDING WHAT’S IMPORTANT (IDENTIFYING SHARED VALUES)
In many other instances, we found through our interviews that a couple has built their relationship not on the religion of their parents, but rather on their own, distinctive religious commitments (often in opposition to their parents and their communities of origin). Derrick and Catherine exemplify this centering of a relationship on nontraditional religious values. From the day they first met, Derrick and Catherine have enjoyed deep and lengthy conversations about life. She was cooking in a small vegetarian restaurant at the time, and Derrick was a student.
They entered a relationship very cautiously and used their long conversations as a means of buffering themselves against precipitous leaps into a doomed relationship. They also checked out their horoscope and found, to their great delight, that there was great potential in their relationship. Derrick, however, was on his way to a nontraditional medical school and they bid farewell to one another. They remained in contact and Catherine decided to begin meditation and mindfulness training (Derrick also being an advocate of mindfulness and meditation)
Ironically, with all of their nontraditional perspectives on life, it took a nudging by Derrick’s parents for him to call Catherine and propose that they live together and consider marriage — on Christmas Eve! Yet, even after a wonderful summer together in a meditation training program, neither was ready for marriage. Their highly idealistic and individualistic perspectives on life led them both to be very cautious in all matters, especially marital commitments. They finally did get married; though they continue to lead their own individual lives and come together primarily around their spiritual quest and their shared love for and attention to their daughter, April.
Whenever there are crises in their marriage they turn to their spiritual guides for assistance and continuity. Five years into their marriage, for instance, they visited with a clairvoyant in order to gain some insights into the stresses of their relationship. The psychic offered them some very practical advice, encouraging Derrick to become more decisive in his commitment to the marriage. He suggested that Derrick decide consciously every month whether or not he wants to stay in his marriage. If he wants to stay, fine; if not, Derrick should move out for that month. The psychic, in essence, encouraged Derrick (and Catherine) to move into a remarriage phase. By testing his commitment each month and risking the loss of his wife and family, Derrick became more appreciative of his life with Catherine.