Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The homeostasis of happy and unhappy families

From Love and Other Catastrophes.

A characteristic of families is that they stick around.  Even the shitty ones.  Men and women may clamor and fret to find life partners – there are apparently industries based upon facilitating this endeavor.  And sure enough some are sundered very rapidly.  But most families do not fall apart, at least not immediately.  The endurance of coupled humans can be attributed to the set of homeostatic feedbacks that develop to stabilize them.  The uxoriousness of men, the doting of women, the clandestineness of their intimacies, the inextricability of their shared tasks, the loftiness of their originary vows, and the damp conjugations of the bedroom: all helming the established couple along the straight and narrow.  And when the satisfactions have stopped, heedfulness of the pocketbook, solicitude for the kids and maybe even the steely comforts of a dependable foe can keep the relationship on the tracks even as the furnace of love sputters out.  Of course, in the worst circumstances unhappy families are maintained by unspeakable acts being perpetrated upon those who dare not speak of them.  Read more of the essay here

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