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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These moments of recollection are to be cherished by couples and certainly represent some of the richest sources of deep gratification for long-term couples. The home that they have created together, their cherished possessions and unique rituals all serve as reminders of the things in life that they value and the character of the relationship that they have established together through their daily, vernacular life (Moore, 1994). Yet, it is truly sad to listen to older couples reflect back on their life together with fondness and nostalgia while discounting the wonderful moments they still can spend together, particularly now that they have more free time, fewer distractions and, sometimes, more financial security than ever before in their lives. This is the developmental plate that opens the rich and rare opportunity for partners to live fully with one another and fully savor their mature relationship.

Tom and Maxine have lived together for fifty-three years. After this length of time they Have much to say about their life adventures. They talk in an easy¬going, bantering fashion about the way they are as a couple. Tom begins by noting that “it’s been fun!” and repeatedly introduces this theme as they speak, in particular, about their current life together. They focus in more on special moments together. They take time to sit and talk together, go for moonlight walks, and toast the moon with glasses of wine. They also keep in close touch with friends and family. “We’ve always been very social and tried to create great parties for our friends and colleagues,” according to Maxine; yet, they now enjoy each other’s company more than ever before in their life, find their different personalities to be sources of enjoyment rather than conflict, and retain a sense of humor and playfulness toward each other and toward life. The interviewer noted that she felt drawn into what seems to be their embracing of life. Their appreciation of each other and of being in the world. A wonderful model of an enduring intimate relationship.

In the case of Heather and Marianne, the transition from work into retirement was difficult. They have not embraced life as joyfully and playfully as Tom and Maxine. Their transition was problematic, not only because both women had been working full-time (a common problem for many contemporary dual-career couples), but also because the two of them had worked closely together for twenty-five years as travel agents in the same organization. Suddenly, they had to relate to each other without their shared work identity. A facet of their lives that they had shared for so long was now gone and it took them a while to adjust.

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