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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They now had so much more free time that they could spend together away from work. Heather had gotten used to having more free time when she retired four years earlier, but Marianne had still gone to work. Suddenly they had no restrictions. But they felt adrift without their shared work experience. Even after Heather retired, they could at least talk about Marianne’s work, and they both still knew the cast of characters at work. Now what do they talk about? What about the “elicit” excitement of being lovers (in private), but co-workers (in public)? What would happen now that their public relationship is no longer separate from their private relationship. This forces them to invest everything in their private relationship? Will it work? What do they do with themselves, given that they are no longer the sprightly, passionate, secretive lovers of old? So much of their identity individually and collectively was wrapped up in their work. And what would other people think of them now that they were both retired?

If the interview is an accurate reflection on their relationship, the transition has apparently been successful. According to Heather:

We probably come off to you like your-grandparents. And that’s really OK. But Marianne and I are content. That’s how I’d describe the way we feel about each other. Contented. We’re very comfortable with each other. We’ve already had the passion where all you want to do is make love and be intense. That part has been gone for a while. But a relationship or marriage of quality does change. It’s the intensity that has changed, that’s all. There is no one else I’d rather be with than Marianne. And a quiet life with her in our home with the cats is just fine with me.

We leave this “marriage of quality” impressed with the flexibility and commitment exhibited in the adjustment of both women to a quite different lifestyle and relationship.

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