LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
In the case of Helene and Frederick, we may find this collision and an attendant remarriage focused on the raising of their daughter, and the relationship between child-rearing decisions and decisions regarding career, the expenditure of money, love and, ultimately, commitment to the relationship. It is obvious that Helene’s and Frederick’s relationship is an ongoing state of affairs that continuously defines and redefines itself. The redefinitions are partly in response to external events regarding money, moving, job changes or birth of a child. Sometimes the definition is represented by something as elementary as “how was your day at work, sweetheart?” The redefinitions will continue in the life of Helene and Frederick as they face these new and constantly changing realities.
Closely related to the issue of bread winning, is the issue of interdependency. As intimate partners, we must not only decide who will be responsible for generating the money, but also the-extent to which this money and other resources generated outside the relationship will be shared by both partners. Obviously, for many couples the primary marker event for the economic plate is the marriage ceremony. The couple becomes a legal entity at this point, and in most states and nations, each partner in the marriage assumes full, legal responsibility for financial obligations accrued by either partner. Often times there is a more personal and less public marker event that defines the sharing of financial resources. Typically, this marker event is the identification of one partner to manage the couple’s finances. This may occur prior to or after the formal marriage ceremony.
The issue of money and allocation of funds is made even more complex, in many instances, and becomes a reoccurring problem for many couples as a result of shifts in income level (both up and down) and new demands being made on the couple’s funds (such as raising children, paying for the education of children, and preparing for retirement). Burt and Karen were particularly thoughtful during their interview about these shifts. Burt noted that “relationships change as job and income changes. . We’re better off financially now and there are fewer chances to create financial problems now. . . .Both of us grew up in situations where we didn’t have financial worries . Money was important but not that important.” Burt added, “I don’t have to go to work every ¬day.” Karen built on this theme: “I have more financial independence from you now. . . It used to be that with any unusual expense I’d stew and fume if I should spend the money on shoes.”