Home Couples & Family Psychology Developmental LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVIII. PLATE FIVE: SEPTEMBER SONG (GROWING OLD AND FACING MAJOR LIFE CHALLENGES AS A COUPLE)

LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XVIII. PLATE FIVE: SEPTEMBER SONG (GROWING OLD AND FACING MAJOR LIFE CHALLENGES AS A COUPLE)

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A classic example of this process of learning from and becoming more like each other is offered by Dora and Jim. These partners have for many years lived with distinctive differences in the ways in which they relate to other people. Dora is “a great dancer and likes to be in the spotlight,” stated Jim with considerable pride. Yet, he also rioted that he doesn’t “like being in the spotlight,” and has lived vicariously off Dora’s interpersonal skills and enthusiasm. Yet, in their senior years, Dora and Jim are becoming more like each other. Dora and Jim both agreed that right now their traditional roles are switching. Dora is pulling herself more into the background, and Jim is putting himself more into the spotlight. Both of them believe that this is important in their individual and collective development.

George and Betty are 68 and 64 years old respectively. They have been married 43 years and refer to each other as Mama and Daddy), reflecting their primary identity as parents of six children. George was a dentist and though Betty ran his office, she has always thought of herself as a housewife. The interviewer began by mentioning that couples often seem to go through cycles. George immediately interrupted: “yeah, one with kids, one without kids. That’s the real one. Another is work and retired.” Betty agreed. George went on to express his concern about possible demands that their children might make on them in the future. He indicated that child-rearing was a very taxing experience for him and he is glad that they are finally all out on their own and doing well. He loves his children but worries that they might try to impinge too much on his and Betty’s lives and finances. Betty always goes along with George’s fears, so as not to upset him further. For George (and perhaps Betty), the shift to another stage in their own development as a couple was clearly welcomed. They no longer need to focus on children, and both are now retired from most work both outside and within the home.

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