I was recently rereading Kurt Vonnegut’s hilarious riff, You Are Not Enough People, where he argues that most marital arguments are really about the fact that your spouse is “not enough people.” Human social needs are too diverse and conflicting to be met by one person. If you try to get every need, from intimacy to income, from chores to dramatic entertainment, from nurturance to intellectual stimulation, from your spouse, you’re going to have a miserable marriage. If you broaden the set of people you rely on for these varied needs (or at least buy a TV), you have a shot at a happy marriage. Vonnegut argues that this need was traditionally met by extended families.
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