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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George and Betty have now settled into a stable post child rearing pattern. Betty takes care of the finances, while George putters around the house completing small home repair projects. George has always been worried about money; however, Betty is an excellent bookkeeper and enjoys keeping track of every penny spent. George is proud of Betty’s ability to handle the finances and frequently praises her for doing such a good job. Betsy’s subservience to George’s financial concerns has kept the socio-economic viability plate in the background. There have been no earthquakes or eruptions along this plate. In this way, George and Betty have established a complementary relationship, with George’s worries being matched by Betty’s competencies. Much as Betty reassures George about possible demands that the children might make on them, she also reassures him about the finances.

The complementarity that has been- established in this relationship seems very mature and it works very smoothly, making the interplay between these two people seem almost invisible. One wonders, however, what would occur if Betty were to die before George. He doesn’t seem to be learning from Betty, hence does not yet seem to have the capacity for “self-assurance.” Perhaps Betty also needs to learn from George about worrying. She may be so concerned with assuring George that things will work out and dependent on George to discover the things about which they should be worried, that she has not had to develop her own problem-detecting capacities. Some mutual instruction may be in order.

While Betty and George are closely linked together with regard to child-raising and finances, they tend to assert their independence and differences from one another with regard to other life interests. Betty enjoys reading books, while George watches television — sports, news, wildlife programs and, in particular, travelogues (“That’s how I’ve been around the world — no waste of money.”) Both Betty and George seem to enjoy these differences and appreciate each other’s unique qualities. The focus throughout their relationship seems to be on building each other up, always making the other person feel loved, wanted, needed and useful. It seems as though the underlying game plan of the relationship based on providing a sense of mutual security, love, and respect for each other.

With all of this mutual respect, it is still apparent that this is an old-fashioned relationship in which traditional sex-roles are clearly upheld. George is defined as the breadwinner, even though he is now retired, and. Betty has always taken care of the business side of his dental practice. Betty is defined as the homemaker, though George, like other men, is given the task of puttering around on “men-type” projects. One wonders if this type of relationship could survive for very long among younger couples. Furthermore, both Betty and George seem to accept their roles on the surface, but there has been an underlying threat of Betty becoming a “woman’s libber.” This is no joke for George.

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