LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
Would it be easy for Sam to leave a career in the church to pursue a more lucrative career? Obviously, it is always hard for anyone to leave something with which they are familiar and to abandon a career that they find to be personally fulfilling. In the case of Caroline and Sam, abandoning a career in the church would be particularly difficult, for their identity as a couple is fused with their commitment to the church. Both Sam and Caroline observed that members of the church in which both of them were involved at the time they met were eager to recognize them as a couple. Caroline added at this point that she discovered later that several members of the church had “set it up” so that Sam and she would meet at this certain function. They both report that they have seldom had friends outside the particular church where they happen to be since they have met.
A further problem contributes to Caroline and Sam’s conflict which concerns Caroline’s ambivalence regarding Sam’s career and her own parents’ devaluing of this career. It is quite clear to Caroline that Sam eats, sleeps and breaths church music. It is in this context that he finds his identity as a successful professional. Success for Sam is determined by the quality of his work rather than by economic standards. Part of Caroline seems to agree with her parents that directing church choirs is first of all not “any kind of career” and second, not anything which could be called a “successful career,” primarily because it doesn’t pay any money to speak of. Yet, another part of Caroline does not agree with this assessment, because in order to be part of Sam’s life, she must accept his dedication to church music as a career, regardless of how she or anyone else feels about it.
Caroline finds herself in what family therapists call a “double bind.” She wants to support Sam and his career because she knows his work is gratifying for him and because this is the only way in which she can remain in relationship with him; yet, in doing so she feels that she is encouraging his financial irresponsibility and his unwillingness to confront the inadequacies of this career over the long run.