LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
Caroline is compelled to “sing in the choir,” to allow Sam’s music to assume a very important place in both of their lives, and to work in the secular world at whatever job she can find to make up the difference in dollars required for them to stay afloat financially. This has been a pattern in their lives the whole time they have been married. The pattern has been remarkably similar in the three different “church jobs” that Sam has held since their marriage. It is a pattern which provides stability in their relationship, but also creates profound unhappiness at times in the life of Caroline — and perhaps their two children.
As in the case of many men and women who are deeply involved in their career, Caroline and Sam have built their joint friendships, value system and even identity around the job of one partner, in this case, Sam. Some couples invest themselves in the corporate career of one partner (becoming a good “company couple), while others invest themselves in a specific profession (the physician and “physician’s spouse” or the professor and “professor’s spouse—or even more powerfully, the pastor and the “pastor’s spouse”). Career shifts for these couples involve profound change that often threatens the core identity of the couple, even if such a shift might contribute to greater financial security.
Performing: How Are We Going To Live Through the Best and Worst Of Times?
Not all of the stories of success among contemporary couples are built upon the rock of financial or career success. Some of the most powerful stories of successful union between two people were told by men and women who are in financial difficulty or under the cloud of a failed career. These tend to be stories of courage, support and understanding on the part of two people who are under considerable stress. One such story was told by Denise and Joseph. Joseph once had a fairly successful career as a salesman for a manufacturing firm in the Philippines. He is now unemployed. Denise also had been successful in working at a Filipino food store and bank; she now works as a low paid assistant in a day care center.