Chapter 11

Living in Separate Households

Of love be a little more careful than anything. —Corita Kent

Introduction..................................................................................... 211

Three Kinds of Families..................................................... 211
Alternative Family Structures........................................... 212
I. THE PROBLEMS OF UNCHOSEN TOGETHERNESS....... 213
A. Daily Trivial Irritations.................................................... 213
B. Conflicts over Practical Matters.................................. 215
C. Complications for Multiple Loving............................. 215
D. Getting into Patterns of Relating................................. 216
E. The Same Bed.................................................................. 217
II. ADVANTAGES & POSSIBILITIES
OF SEPARATE HOUSEHOLDS.................................................. 218
A. Keeping the Relationships Open and Flexible........ 218
B. No Unchosen Togetherness........................................ 218
C. Complete Privacy............................................................ 219
    As we become more Authentic,
we restructure our lives in several ways.
We focus ourselves more clearly around our fundamental projects-of-being.
And our loving relationships become more integrated with our life-goals.
Our patterns of 'family life' or living arrangements will also be affected.

    At least three styles of family have been tried in our culture:
(1) the extended family of frontier and rural America,
(2) the nuclear family of urban and suburban America, and
(3) the commune of the counter-culture in the 1960s and 70s.
But all three share one common problem: unchosen togetherness.

    1. The extended family worked
when one generation was much like the next
(because of ideological conformity),
when grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, etc.
all shared approximately the same values and life-style.
Since everyone agreed about the most fundamental questions of life,
they were able to live together in relative peace and tranquillity.
The extended family was very supportive;
and it was often the basic social structure of the village or township.
But when the presuppositions and assumptions of the older generations
are challenged for various reasons by the younger generations,
extended families are not as peaceful, supportive, or happy.
Biologically-related families of more than two generations
are not likely to hold together very well in the 21st century.
But it is possible for voluntary families to emerge
from some consensus of life-styles and values.
(Margaret Mead calls them "clusters".)
When the members of a group (regardless of age) hold common values,
they can create a good family-life together.

211



    2. The nuclear family (Dad, Mom, and the kids)
was the most wide-spread form
of household thru most of the 20th century.
It was a family-form that worked when all members agreed
on certain principles and rules (usually imposed by the parents).
Some compromises were necessary for the household to run smoothly.

     3. Likewise a commune could be made to work
if its members were committed enough to keeping it going.
If they were willing to make the sacrifices required by the group-life,
a commune provided good family support.
But quite often tensions developed within communes
because of different values and styles-of-life
—even within groups consisting of people close to the same age.

     The primary problem that made all three styles of family difficult
was the simple fact of having to live with other people!
(If you think for a moment
about your own experiences of living with others,
you will be reminded of many of the problems that can arise:
noise, mess, intrusion, irritation, money, guests, pets, etc.)

     This chapter will offer some ideas for living arrangements
that avoid the problems of living with other people:
Each adult could live in a separate household.
(Children will probably live with one of their parents,
perhaps moving from one parent's household to the other periodically;
or maybe—if old enough—the children could have their own apartment.)

     A group of people could rent apartments in the same building.
Or they could own a building together as a cooperative or condominium.
Also they could live in apartment buildings in the same neighborhood.
If a group of people who want to form a
'family'
own an apartment building,
they could set aside one apartment (or some other common area)
for any
'family' activities they want to have as a group.
Or they could even have separate houses.
The real estate arrangements are not as important
as the fact that each adult has his or her own living space.

     Each adult has a private, self-contained living-unit,
with its own kitchen and bathroom.
This permits each person to live an independent life,
without intruding on other members of the family.
Their lives overlap only by choice, not by chance or necessity.

     But because they live close enough to the people they know and like,
they have complete freedom to associate with one another
in whatever dimensions of their lives they please,
at whatever times are mutually convenient.
No one is compelled to share any particular aspect of life
with the rest of the
'family'.
But all members are enabled to share as much as they want.

212



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James Park  New Ways of Loving:
How Authenticity Transforms Relationships

(Minneapolis, MN: Existential Books.com, 2007—6th edition)
p. xxx  

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