The Metaphysics Of “Family”

In a divorce case, a woman complains that her ex-husband “participated in the family only when it suited him and his business affairs”. The scenario is not improbable in itself, although we might ask ourselves whether he was engaged in these business affairs as being a more amusing leisure pursuit than his family, or as a means of supporting both himself and that family.

Of greater interest is the implication that the family is something that exists at a particular location, so that whenever the father is somewhere else, he is not “in” the family. That location is, of course, wherever the woman and her children might be. When the father is off doing his business, the family is not divided; for he is not part of the family; the family is there, all together, and he is not participating in it. Paradoxically, therefore, in the very act of complaining that her ex-husband was not sufficiently in the family, the divorcée quoted was affirming his metaphysical separation from his family. One might, therefore, be forgiven for asking: if according to this world-view the husband cannot be a part of his own family, why should he bother financing it?

A female columnist in a certain European newspaper writes about “the type of man who thought that the job for the family was done when the bills were paid but who came home one evening after overtime to an empty house”. The context of the article makes it abundantly clear that the columnist has zero sympathy with such men, whom she regards as pathetically out of touch with modern demands. As for example the demand that he should both work to pay the bills and simultaneously be at home to provide emotional supply; or the demand to move out of the house he has worked to provide, without the courtesy of three months’ notice and the return of any deposit.

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 08:41 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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