Sunday, July 02, 2006

Love and Marriage

In any number of articles on happy marriage, the ideal described is that of the smoothly functioning team. This description is not too different from the idea of a smoothly functioning employee; he should be 'reasonably independent,' co-operative, tolerant, and at the same time ambitious and aggressive. Thus, the marriage counselor tells us, the husband should 'understand' his wife and be helpful. He should comment favorably on her new dress, and on a tasty dish. She, in turn, should understand when he comes home tired and disgruntled, and should listen attentively when he talks about his business troubles, should not be angry but understanding when he forgets her birthday. All this kind of relationship amounts to is the well-oiled relationship between two persons who remain strangers all their lives, who never arrive at a 'central relationship,' but who treat each other with courtesy and who attempt to make each other feel better.
The rest of the link discusses the guy's sociology, which posits people as reduced to consumers, happy only to the extent that they buy stuff. Relationships are likewise largely commodified exchanges - we don't love people, we love attractive packages.

Which is all well and good, but if one wishes to give practical advice to people trying not to feel alienated from one another, maybe "Be nice and listen" isn't a bad start.

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