A Man Without a Country

Okay, now let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about women. Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted. I know what women want: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything.
What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn’t get so mad at them.
Why are so many people getting divorced today? It’s because most of us don’t have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.
A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.
But most of us, if we get married these nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it’s a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it’s a man.
When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: “You are not enough people!”
A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It’s a terribly vulnerable survival unit.

Kurt Vonnegut, "A Man Without a Country"


Coffee fairy said…
hmm, i both agree and disagree. :)Sometimes having an extended family can take away privacy and can also bring depency.
b said…
i had the same reaction as coffee fairy. there has to be a balance there. an extended family alone does not resolve difficulties and can sometimes be paramount to the demise of a relationship. it is not the amount of people one has in their life, but the quality of people. i may have a lot of ideas and thoughts that i want to share with people...but not with everyone or anyone.

however, i do agree that couples too often expect that other person to be everything to them and will inevitably be disappointed if that is the case. that puts tremendous pressure on any relationship.

but again...quality is more important than quantity. and i think people overlook the importance of appreciating and nurturing a basic connection with humanity (kindness and respect to strangers who fill our lives...grocery store clerk, barista, coworkers, etc.).

with that said, i do appreciate that a healthy and supportive extended family can be a huge factor but not just because it provides more people to talk to or joke with. any family would benefit from a strong support system beyond just the nuclear family.
RennyBA said…
You have some good points here Richard and of course extended family is of importance. But I also think married people forget to invest in their relationship and to much take it for granted. One have to work for keeping the relationship alive and of course that includes sex too ;-)
Richard said…
coffee fairy: I have no experience of extended family. I grew up with only two parents and two siblings (I am the eldest).

breal: in general, nothing is about extremes. Balance tends to be healthier.

rennyba: I think a marriage is about people giving 100% each, so tha ton days when one or the other cannot give, there is coverage. If each only gives 50%, then there will be a lot of days when you don't get 100%.

I suppose I could have editted out the first two sentences.

His book is not really any coherent set of thoughts. It is more a collection of thoughts and ideas and ramblings. Basically a sort of memoirs.

Since I have no experience of extended family, I cannot identify with it (in the whole world I have 2 aunts, 2 cousins and 1 grandmother outside of my father, my 2 siblings and, of course, Sofia, and the kids).
Raquel said…
Nah, having an affair is only selfishness. People are different, why not not understand him/her and try to work up everything.
Now people are so mobile and spread out, the whole extended family is not often geographically nearby. I'm close to mine in heart and spirit, but we're really not there in person that much. I have 2 very close sisters with whom I can share anything, usually by phone, but they'd drive me nuts it I lived with them or saw too much of them.

The problem with many men, including my husband, is that men don't seem to have the same need to discuss and think/analyze things and reflect on many things or about yourself as much as women do. That's why women need lots of close women friends. Men don't need quite so many buddies..just guys to do sports etc. with sometimes. My husband is more like a hermit and doesn't need to relate to others much. He is totaly fulfilled being on his own mostly. I bring him into the fold often since I am gregarious.
Barbara said…
I agree to a degree. My Blog family is my extended family.
ghee said…
Freud,really wants to talk about sex but in fairness,he has some points here...divorce is just a common factor here in Japan.
Richard said…
raquel: nice to see you again. Hmmm ... I don't remember mention of affairs being in the quote.

MOI: men and women approach issues differently. I find women tend to talk a lot and repetitively (e.g. summarizing a 2 minute phone conversation in about 15 minutes), whereas men tend to summarize hour long conversations in fewer than 5 words. I like to have close relationships, but I am slow to warm to them. One problem I have is that I lack the "instant bond" men seem to form around sports and beer (since neither interests me). One of my friends (single) commented that he no longer gets to see his married friends because the woman organizes the social activity calendar.

barbara: I wouldn't go that far. But, then again, I am slow to warm up to people.

ghee: Freud was an interesting fellow. While there can be legitimate reasons for divorce when one partner is abusive in some manner. In most cases it is simply a question of people not bothering to try. It is amazing how much will fight to defend the "honour" of their word and reputation when it comes to agreements - except when it comes to marriage and fidelity. If Sofia tried to divorce me, I would sue for breech of contract. It is easier to get out of a marriage than it is to get out of any other contract.
Rapunzel said…
Richard, being raised as an only child (I didn't meet my half brother until adulthood), I long for more family, extended and otherwise! When I married the first time, I fell in love with his big Italian-Irish family as much as I did with my ex. When we divorced, I mourned for them as much as for him. I still keep in touch with them even tho we have been divorced for 20 years!

However, my 2nd husband had a different situation. His relatives only caused us grief and I credit them for helping to destroy an already-shaky marriage. I haven't seen any of them since our divorce 3 years ago, and I don't miss 'em one bit.

Bottom line: family can make or break a marriage, it depends on so many factors.

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