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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In telling their individual and collective life stories, Martin and Victor noted that they both came from disrupted family lives. As a result, they were both looking for a stable home life, with a house and somebody on whom they could depend. There were no positive role models for these two men, given that their family was dysfunctional and most members of the gay community in the east coast city where they lived were “in the closet:”

. . .we would look at our families and then look at Donna Reed’s family and think that Donna Reed’s family and the Beaver’s family were a little too far gone, but somewhere in between there’s something that should be supportive and adult, without playing all these games. [You] should be able to sit down with the person that you love and say I feel this way about this, without them getting real upset.

When they did look to other gay couples for role-models, it appeared that most gay relationships revolved strictly around sex and all other aspects of the couple’s lives were completely separate. Martin and Victor realized that their relationship was much different and therefore the other gay couples they knew offered no insight.

They did manage to build a relationship without the aid of role-models, but faced yet another transition point during the 1990s, without any role models. How do you confront the potential death of one or both partners when you are still at the prime of 1ife and are still at the relatively early stages of the relationship? How do you suddenly establish a mature relationship that can hear all the grief and love associated with death? How do you learn how to grapple with AIDS? There certainly were many other gay couples living around them in San Francisco that were coping with similar problems during the 1990s, and they were probably smart to move to a city where they were not alone in their struggles. Yet, at the time no one seemed to know how to handle this new intrusive illness that was threatening the very core of many communities in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

For both Martin and Victor, acceptance by other people (and, in particular, their parents) was essential, if they were to cope with this massive intrusion in their lives. Both men point out that acceptance has played a major role in the formation of their relationship. Martin observed. that meeting Victor’s family “was a big thing in starting to think of us as a couple. It was shortly after that [Victor’s] brother started referring to me as his sister-in-law. I still have to get even with him for that.” Victor noted this acceptance took quite a while. Members of both their families started treating them as a couple at the point when they were accepted by Victor’s family. They started to get invitations as a couple from many different sources at this point in their history.

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