It is clear that Homer Senior and Elsie enjoy a somewhat conflicting marriage. Elsie obviously dislikes her husband's work and the way that this forces her to live in Coalwood and to raise her two sons there. She objects to the way that his coal mining is literally everything to him, and she and her sons are second best. The way in which coal mining consumes his life is shown through his persistent determination to keep on working, no matter what health problems he suffers from, and his steadfast loyalty to the Captain and to the mining company. Yet, although it seems they do have a marriage with significant problems, at the same time, it is obvious that they do love each other. This is shown through Elsie's loyalty to her husband over the years and her refusal to leave him. Even when she does move to Myrtle Beach whilst Homer stays working in Coalwood, this is just a temporary affair, and eventually he joins his wife at Myrtle Beach to live the rest of his days there. The way in which Elsie describes her husband's symptoms to her son show her care and love:
Mom got on the phone and said Dad's black lung had worsened. He was also depressed, Mom said, because the Coalwood mine had been shut down...
Such understanding of her husband's state of health but also his mental condition conveys the care and love that Elsie feels towards her husband.