Consolidating cities and getting married have striking similarities. We asked licensed therapist Geraldine Kerr to tackle concerns and fears around consolidating Lewiston-Auburn as if the two were a couple she was counseling.

She hit on several key areas.

Loss of identity

“That’s big, only not as big as I think it sometimes becomes. I tell couples all the time, you’re no longer two ‘I’s’ living together, you’re two ‘I’s’ and a ‘we.’ When we see the power of ‘we’ and what we become, I think it takes away a lot of the fear of that loss.”

Finances

It’s OK to keep separate pots of money, it boosts that feeling of autonomy: “It’s when there’s secrets that it leads to trouble.”

“If there’s one pot, again, I just think about how important it is that everyone have a say in how the money is delegated and controlled.”

Differences in class or status

If someone’s uncomfortable or one side feels like it’s being pulled down, speak up.

“If we concentrate on the ‘we,’ we’re going to do what’s best to make us a good, strong, nice-looking ‘we.’ We’re not going to (emphasize) the weaknesses of the other side.”

Keep communicating

“It is so important that people listen openly and not with their backs up.”

Set your own course, together

Couples don’t want mom and dad planning their wedding; L-A wouldn’t want the state of Maine picking out the wallpaper in a new joint council chamber. The more say you have over your own future together, the better, she said.

Kerr, a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, lives in New Jersey and has a vacation home in Freeport.


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