LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVI. PLATE THREE: DECIDING WHAT’S IMPORTANT (IDENTIFYING SHARED VALUES)
Performing: What Are the Little Things We Do Together Which Keep Us Together?
We discovered that couples continue to thrive in terms of their individual and shared values when several components exist in their relationship. First, they find something of great value to both of them that they can do together. Second, they are inclined to make the relationship itself a priority—a jewel of great beauty and value. Sondheim wrote a song during the 1970s about the “little things we do together” as the ingredient which makes “marriage a joy” and keeps people together. Heather and Marianne spoke during their interview of the ongoing joy they experienced in working together as travel agents for a large agency. They not only worked alongside each other for many years (at times one of them being the boss and at other times the other being the boss), but also taught other travel agents together as a training team. This common work experience might drive many other couple crazy. It was a source of shared value for Heather and Marianne and was made even more magical because most of their co-workers were unaware that they were living together as lesbians.
We found that the little things we do together can be very big (as in the case of two people who work together for a common cause) or they can be quite mundane. One couple we know was going through a divorce and had to decide how to distribute all of their worldly goods. No problem with the house, the furniture, even the retirement funds. They did run into a big problem, however, when it came to the distribution of their highly prized season tickets to the San Francisco 49ers. They had been going to the games together for many years.
As a result, they had some of the best seats in the stadium, and both of them were ardent 49er fans. So, they finally decided to keep their own individual season tickets and reluctantly agreed to attend the games together, since neither of them wanted to give up their ticket. They would meet at the game, root together for the 49ers, get angry together at the officials, mourn together when the team lost and celebrate together when the team won. And fall in love again together! They have reunited and credit their shared love for the 49ers as a central catalyst in their reunification and their continuing commitment to one another and their relationship.