This is a totally un-fieldwork related post, but forgive the momentary lapse in single-mindedness. I seem to be lacking single-mindedness in general. (My father seems to think I'm hopelessly peripatetic and unfocused...it's just that I'm enthusiastic for variety and newness.) In my half-hearted defense, I did once try to teach a class on love, though it was a total failure, since I was inadequately versed in the scope of literatures. I did have a phase where I was very interested in emotions-theory, and I wanted to remove love from the "emotions" literatures....but that's for another post...or not.
There's an interesting post on Jewcy.com (which I read really really rarely) about monogamy and monotheism, and though I could do without the religious overtones, the part I found most interesting about this article was the dangers of becoming overly dependent on whomever you love for the full sustenance of your well-being. The idea that any one person can provide all the support you need seems to mirror the American attachment to the nuclear family: the loss of community that I think we've suffered both from our (ahem, I am guilty guilty guilty) peripatic ways (we spread out across the country, and don't seem to value or prioritize staying close to our families, usually) and our valuing of self-determination (sometimes called "individualism"), which allows us to disconnect or claim we are "choosing" our new lives. It's always seemed unwise to me that one could expect one's romantic partner to provide the full-scope of support, but it does seem to be a slippery slope.
One of my dearest friends is so very good at maintaining our friendship in spite of the ebbs and flows of our love lives. In some ways, this reflection is as much about the way in which one imagines and values friends as it is about navigating emotional monogamy with partners. Really, one would never expect any one friend to be the full bearer of one's emotional needs, so why would we expect it of our spouses/partners/lovers/whatevers? What I'm trying to say...badly...is that this is more of a post on friendship and the priorities we make for our friends. Over a pitcher of good African reinterpretation of a caipiranhas, a friend and I discussed the perversity of the expectations we place on sexual partners versus the expectations that we expect of our friends. And that we expect of our partners to reciprocate -- perhaps a far more damning phenomenon, to expect sexual partners to treasure us as the primary support. There is a logic to it, it's just not clear to me that the logic is constructive or productive.
I've long been a skeptic of the nuclear family structure, though as my friends marry and have children, it starts to seem more appealling since everyone else is busy with babies' and husbands' demands, it's almost a default choice -- or a choice by virtue of a lack of other options. The analogy of monotheism and monogamy was an interesting way to frame the analysis, though, even if it's not quite the angle I'd have chosen. I do think that this has some relevance to thinking about my own research subjects, and the ways in which Americans imagine and expect their homelife to be structured, given that I work with parents and families.
I'm just currently operating on a lazyperson's research schedule. I am getting a bit itchy, however, not working as much as I am used to. It's about time, really, to get back to thinking beyond these superficial (half-edited) posts.