Vonnegut on Marriage
Tim! I shall steal this from you, as you stole it from Kurt, verbatim! Because it is good stuff!
Ok, let’s have some fun. 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 to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.
Most of us, if we get married 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.
I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, and they were taking it to meet all its relatives. Everybody was going to hold it, cuddle it, say how pretty or how handsome it was. Wouldn’t you have loved to be that baby?
I sure wish I could wave a wand, and give every one of you an extended family, make you an Ibo or a Navaho or a Kennedy.
I hope America, over the long run, finds some way to provide all of our citizens with extended families – a large group of people they could call on for help.
Living in California has caused me to worry, in varying degrees, about the need for family connection. Although the pay wasn’t great, I really enjoyed living in Chicago the last time around, in part because I was near family and because the Office was a close-knit bunch. Two tribes! Right after the marriage I accepted the raise to move to Walnut Creek, and I did worry somewhat that leaving family and friends behind could make the marriage more difficult . . . but that we’d do alright.
Living in San Francisco, though, is much better. Plenty of social activities even for those of us between families, between jobs . . . and you don’t even have to drive to get there! (Parking is horrible, anyway.) But, yeah, next marriage, especially when we get to child-rearing time, we want to be a little more vigilant that we have got some manners of family to back us up!