Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Family - The Hardest Questions

1. What does family mean to you?

The basic answer, which everyone can agree on - "A family is a social unit."

Beyond that, this is a political question. The answer depends on your ideology.

Conservatives say, "A family consists of a mother, father, and their children. The mother and father should be married. This is a nuclear family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are part of your extended family."

Liberals say, "A family consists of two people who love each other, whether straight or gay, and their children. Whether they choose to marry is up to them. Whether they want to have children is up to them. No one should feel forced into something they don't want." This ideology is more modern.

Then, some people feel, "Family is connected by blood. If they're not connected by blood, they're not part of my family." This attitude can apply to step-parents, step-children, your siblings' parents-in-law, second cousins, etc. You may agree or disagree. Usually it depends on family relations - how these people get along with each other. Some people consider close friends a part of the family.

When you answer this question, choose your words carefully.
-Is marriage necessary?
-Should marriage only be between a man and a woman?
-Can a friend can be a part of the family?

You might indicate an answer without even realizing, by the words you choose.

2. What are the functions of a family?

The book, Yes!, gives a very technical answer, it sounds like a robot is speaking:

"It fulfils a biological, sociological, emotional, economic, and educational need in modern society."

It's right, but what does it mean? Let's make it simple.

The functions of a family are:
1. to provide love, emotional support, and understanding both day to day, and when tragedy strikes,
2. to take care of each other, especially when sick, injured, or elderly, and
3. to plan together where to live, and how to earn, save, and spend money.
4. For families with children, functions include raising them, preparing them for adulthood, and teaching them right from wrong, social norms, and practical skills.
5. Children also have a role to play, helping and learning from their parents, and they have to study and prepare for adultood.

3. What is cohabitation, and what do you think of it?

Cohabitation is when a couple lives together, out of wedlock. They love each other, but they don't want to marry. Is it good or bad? It's up to you. Here are three possible answers:

1. Con - I'm against cohabitation because:
               1. If you and the one you love live together, you shouldn't live in sin. You need God's blessing, especially before having sex.
               2. If you and your significant other really love each other, you should get married, because it's a promise to be faithful (no cheating), forever. Why can't you make that promise? What are you afraid of?
               3. Marriage isn't just about love. It's about sharing your whole life with one person who really knows you. You don't want to be alone, do you?
               4. Your parents won't like it if you don't get married. And other people will think you're strange.
               5. What will you tell your children, when they ask about marriage?
               6. There are tax benefits (at least in America) for marrying, and it makes it easier to visit your spouse in the hospital. It also makes joint bank accounts easier, and joint wills when you die.

2. Pro - I'm for cohabitation because:
               1. I don't think marriage has anything to do with love.
               2. A mariage is hard to get out of. Divorce is messy and expansive. You need lawyers, and you fight about who gets what.
               3. We all know people change over time, and want different things, so why stay with someone who doesn't make you happy?
               4. I don't want to be dependent on anyone. I don't need any help, and I can take care of my children on my own. Or, maybe I don't want to have children.
               5. I don't care what anyone else thinks. It's my life.

3. I support cohabitation for a time, but I think it should lead to marriage.
               1. I think any strong relationship should lead to marriage, but cohabitation is a good way to see if your partner is right for you.
               2. When you live together, you find out what all the problems are, and if you can make compromises.
               3. I support marriage because it's a promise of love, support, and fidelity (no cheating).

4. Why do people get divorced?

It's not as simple as drugs, gambling, and alcohol. The short answer is:

"Love is complicated, and not everyone is ready for marriage."

What is love anyway? Well, there are different kinds.

Platonic Love is the love you feel for your family and friends. You respect them, you know them really well, you care and worry about them.

Platonic Love = respect + understanding + worry

Romantic Love is similar, but it's so strong it shocks you. You're surprised you could feel so strongly about someone. And it also mixes all these feelings with lust, or libido (silná túžba) - a strong sexual desire.

Romantic Love = respect + understanding + worry + surprise + lust

There are many problems that arise with lust:

1. Lust is a feeling that's separate from love. Feelings of lust are controlled by chemicals and hormones in the brain, and can be triggered by visual and sensory stimuli. So, when someone says they want you, how do you know they really love you? Maybe, they only want sex?

2. Since Lust is separate from love, some people can feel both emotions at the same time, for different people. Lust is like temporary insanity. It makes bad ideas seem like good ones. Any normal person will tell you, don't have sex with someone you don't respect, don't have sex with someone you wouldn't want to have children with, and don't have unprotected sex with strangers. All of these bad ideas might sound better when your lust is aroused. Just remember, the pleasure lasts a moment, but the consequences last a lifetime.

3. Since lust is controlled by chemicals which come and go in our lives, our interest in sex changes. Men sexually peak at 17, whereas women peak at 27 - so there's only one time in your life when you and your spouse will have the same level of interest. Very often a relationship suffers because one partner loses interest in sex. How do you solve this? Should the other partner have sex despite his/her lack of interest? Should you fake it? Would that be any fun for either of you?

4. Lust isn't just chemical, there's a psychological aspect to it as well. People connect their self-esteem, at least partially, to sex - it tells them how attractive they are, how special, etc. So, what if you're not satisfying your partner? What if he/she's not telling you? These worries can lead to doubt, jealousy, and marital troubles.

5. In addition, many people have fantasies and fetishes that may be embarrassing - some people like blonde hair, some like lingerie, and then some are strange and disturbing. Is it possible your partner is hiding something from you? Is the fetish even normal, or is it unhealthy?

6. Some people have suffered abuse and/or other trauma. Some people have been taught it's "evil", and try to suppress their feelings of lust.

But lust isn't the only problem. Every aspect of love can be problematic:

1. Love is a very powerful emotion, and when you feel it, you think it will never end. But it can and will, if you don't work to keep it alive.

2. Love is mostly an intense respect for your partner, meaning you both have to be respectable. And that's hard!

To be respectable you have to be: intelligent, modest, caring, understanding, honest, faithful, and very, very patient. You have to be a saint! And not just one day, but your whole life!

Many young people underestimate the importance of patience. When you ask a teenager which qualities are most attractive in a partner, they never say patience.
To be respectable, it also helps to have a job, and to win the respect of your peers and colleagues, which is hard. Winning others' respect is tied to the fine art of charisma - knowing what to say, and when to say it. Meanwhile, everyone has some embarrassing features, and your spouse will be the first to know it, and tell everyone.

3. The quickest way to end love is through anger. That's why patience is so important. Unfortunately, the longer two people live together, the less patience they have with each other. No matter how much you love someone, they will eventually make you angry - they will break something you love. They might spill tea on your computer. They might scratch your car while parking. They might crap the bed.

They'll probably feel guilty about it. It's up to you to make them feel better, not worse.

You also need to catch yourself before starting an argument, to think before speaking, and to consider how to defuse a situation before a fight begins.

4. One of the most common problems with love is that people fall in love with a bad person. Maybe he's charming? Maybe she's beautiful? Maybe he's caring, and maybe she's loving. But they don't have all the qualities it takes for marriage. Many people don't really know who it is they're marrying.

"You don't really know someone until you fight them." - The Matrix

Then, too late, they discover... their spouse is a liar, a cheater, a jealous type, an abusive monster, a gambler, an attention seeker, addicted to spending money, etc. A lot of this has to do with maturity. Many people just aren't that mature.

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