You Are Not Enough People

Most of us no longer live in small towns. Our parents aren’t involved in helping us choose a spouse. They’re probably not going to come live with us any time soon. Parents no longer need 14 kids to provide labor for their farm, nor does the oldest son have to take over the family business.

These are positive developments in society, no question. But it’s also true that it has come at the cost of some of the support network that used to make being a parent—and a spouse—easier. The writer Kurt Vonnegut made a poignant observation about the disappearance of the large extended family. He said that, when we get married, we’re not getting their huge extended family, we’re just getting one more person to talk to…and they’re of the opposite sex.

So? It means, he says, “when a couple has an argument, 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!’”

Try to remember that the next time you are overwhelmed or upset. This job used to be done by a village! No wonder you are stressed and having trouble. You’re doing the work of a lot of people. And so is your spouse and the babysitter and the school teacher. We’re all doing more with less. So let’s cut each other a break.

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