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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Men and women typically do not begin to think in a serious manner of their own death or the death of their partner until such time as they are faced with the death of parents, favorite aunts and uncles, or other people who played significant roles in their lives. Certainly, this emerging awareness of one’s own mortality is a central theme in the life of most middle-aged men and women. At the point when men and women begin to confront the death of significant others in their lives then they will inevitably begin to consider the potential death of their partner prior to their own death. This is particularly likely among women who marry men who are of the same age or older.

The death of a parent or other significant person in one’s life tends to either open up or finally resolve some powerful personal issues that can’t help but impact on one’s relationship with a lifelong partner. Sam, for instance, spoke about the recent death of his father. Sam’s father died of liver cancer several months before the interview. He had been an alcoholic. Sam reported that he hated his father vehemently and continues to hate him even after his death. Sam was notified that his father’s death was imminent, yet Sam refused to go to the hospital to see him. He attended the funeral but returned home promptly after the service ended, refusing to go to the graveyard for the committal service.

Neither Sam nor Caroline had much to say about their own potential death, though it was quite clear throughout the interview that Sam felt the relationship with his father to be unresolved and (now) unresolvable. He is resistant to any advice from other people (particularly from either his mother or Caroline’s parents) with regard to his own career or life choices. Sam seems to be stuck and unable to move ahead with his own life. Given the centrality of his career (as choir director) in the life of his family and, in particular, his marriage, the further development of Sam and Caroline’s relationship may have to await his coming to terms with his own father and their estranged relationship.

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