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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Though George says he like to tease Betty about it, the fact remains that George has been very concerned that Betty might get “funny ideas.” He does not want his wife doing anything other than homemaking (ignoring the fact that she has been a very successful business person for years in running the dental practice). Betty has never had the courage to assert herself, though there are many thing she would have liked to have done, Simple things, like joining a bridge club, taking a class in accounting at the university, taking a part-time job at a nearby dress shop. George didn’t want any wife of his out running around. He wanted her home. Betty stayed home for her lifetime in order to keep the peace. She had literally no social contacts outside her family

Yet, the two have survived and even thrived in their own uniquely constructed relationship. They went through many hard times in creating and recreating themselves as a couple. Outside the interview, Betty indicated that “marriage is a series of mini-divorces.” She had considered leaving George several times during their marriage, but never mentioned such personal crises to George. It seems as if Betty has taken on the remarriage process single-handedly, which may have been typical of many women of her generation. This couple has remained intact because the two partners established a complimentary relationship of master/servant and boss/employee, parent/child. This is supported and maintained through loving symmetrical communications of mutual respect and praise. Their relationship seems to be working, as both feel very fortunate. They really mean it when they say that they love each other. Privately, Betty reveals a darker side of the relationship when she speaks of the almost total sacrifice of self on her part. She indicated outside the interview that her mother had told her: “Honey, for a marriage to work, the woman must give 90% and the man 10%.” Betty’s experiences have shown this to be the case.

Does not growing together through several developmental stages require two participants who are willing to help the other with their own growth and maturation? What happens when one of the participants has more or less given up her “self” for the sake of the other or for the sake of the relationship? Then you have one person going through the stages of his or her life with the help of an obedient appendage who has sacrificed his or her own identity. Betty and many other women of her age and era have experienced this sacrifice. Their husbands have an identity and even the couple has an identity (often primarily through child-rearing). The primary the primary role of wife is to support these two identities rather than establish her own. Such a state of inequity will hopefully not be tolerated among younger men and women of a new era.

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