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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Like many couples, Ruth and Mary have given some thought to the potential death of one another. Ruth indicated that:

I think we both feel that if we had to . . . if something happened to you or something happened to me, we would get along somehow, run our lives. We would be able to live afterwards, in some way. I kind of have that gut feeling. We are both survivors, it’s true, but I’ve never had to survive in quite that . . . close, a big one. I think I could do it, but I’d probably be miserable for a while, a long time. At least every Sunday night [laugh]. But I think you know that if I weren’t here, I would want you to enjoy your life. Yeah, and I know that you would too [laughing].

Most men and women who wish to spend the rest of their life with one other person will someday have to help their partner face the death of a parent or other cherished friend or relative. They-must also face the prospect of their partner’s death. Fortunately, for most of us the potential death of one’s partner is a life stage issue that can be deferred to the last half of life. For some couples, unfortunately, the issue of life and death and massive intrusive life events occurs much earlier in the life of the couple. This is certainly the case for many gay couples who were facing the horrors of AIDS during the 1990s.

Martin and Victor are just such a couple. They have been partners since the early 1980s, when they met in New York City. They had been living on the east coast until about ten months prior to the interview when they decided to move west. Martin has been living with AIDS for many years and received chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma over a one-year period of time. Victor was tested for the AIDS virus during the 1990s and is HIV-positive. Martin’s illness was the reason they decided to move to San Francisco. They both felt that it was important to be in a community that was on the forefront of combating the AIDS epidemic. Such a community, they hoped, would provide them with the services and support they knew that they would need.

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