LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVI. PLATE THREE: DECIDING WHAT’S IMPORTANT (IDENTIFYING SHARED VALUES)
This forging of distinctive and individual values is all very well and good when it comes to couples who live in cultures that support autonomy and independence for young couples. But what about cultures that encourage continuing, close relationships between parents and children? Where mother and father are to be honored and served for a lifetime? What about couples who are more radical in their departure from their parent’s culture? Who choose a very different life style? And what about gay and lesbian couples who often must fight against major opposition from parents in order to even establish their relationship in the first place?
Many of the couples we interviewed who grew up in very traditional cultures found that their culture firmly enforced the commitment of children (even when adults) to-their parent’s values. Many of the older couples, like Clyde and Gertrude grew up in another era in American life, when traditional, church-related values were central to their individual life, their life as a couple and the community in which they grew up. Clyde and Gertrude met at a church gathering, have remained in their church throughout the fifty five years of their marriage, and have raised their own children within the church. Even though Gertrude’s parents never accepted Clyde as their son-in-law, both Gertrude and Clyde fully accepted the values of her parents, for they were also the values of his parents and of everyone who lived around them. There was simply no other alternative in the community of believers in which they were raised.
Maria and Roberto are much younger than Gertrude and Clyde, yet they share similar experiences, having been raised in traditional families in Chile. As in many traditional cultures, Maria and Roberto refrained from sexual intercourse prior to their marriage. Like most of her female friends, Maria was a virgin when she married Roberto. Furthermore, Maria’s family was very protective of her and did not want her to have a steady boyfriend—especially if that boyfriend was Roberto. According to Maria, her parents “did anything possible to pull us apart in our relationship.” Furthermore, Roberto “was not welcomed to my house until we got married. They still aren’t very happy with him.” While the resistance of Maria’s family to her marriage to Roberto was a hassle, it was not a major deterrent, in part because at the time most of the parents in Chile seemed to be overprotective of their daughters.