Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships– Essay III: The Stories We Are Told
Contemporary Images of Intimate Relationships
What has occurred since this time? Have there been major changes over the course of the past century? There has been a clear decline in the emphasis in marriage on reproduction and for many people the moral and religious obligations associated with marriage seem to be quaint, if not totally irrelevant. We have also witnessed the emergence (or at least more visible and acceptable manifestation) of alternative types of intimate relationships. We observe many men and women living together out of wedlock, and the gradual acceptance of both lesbian and gay relationships, at least in most urban areas of our contemporary societies.
Yet, intimate relationships continue be a sacred or spiritual union for many couples (Moore, 1994). Furthermore, marriages continue to play a critical role with regard to the preservation of the social fabric of our society. Other types of intimate relationships also gain greater importance. In many ways, intimate relationships are even more important today than they were at the turn of the 20th Century, for a majority of men and women in many societies now work at least part time outside the home. In many instances, men and women travel for at least a half hour to their work place. This in turn means that many adults spend most of their waking hours away from home. We no longer know our neighbors and rarely have time to meet with friends other than at work. In many cases, the relationships we have established at work are the only meaningful connections we have with people other than members of our own family. The workplace, in other words, often serves as the new neighborhood for many of us. Given this relative isolation from other people, we become increasingly dependent on our partner and other members of our family. They must meet needs that earlier in the 20th Century were often met by people outside the family, such as recreation, intellectual stimulation, humor, and drinking companionship.