Pic of the day: Illustration screenshot from The Sims.
At separate tables we sit down to eat,
Chris de Burgh sings this as if it was a bad thing. And in our culture, living together has long been the obvious thing to do for lovers. I even hesitate to say "the obvious choice", for there has hardly been a choice. But this is changing. Not just here in Norway, but all over the western world the trend is clear: More and more couples live apart. Married or just lovers: They have their own career, their own friends, their own things, their own style. And these don't always mesh. So rather than an ugly mixture, they remain apart except for those times when they actually want to be together.
In a culture saturated with mobile phones, like here in Scandinavia, it is trivial to talk together even if you are not together. You can share whatever is on your mind -- not that couples necessarily do that all the time either. Let us face it, some don't see love or marriage as a "final unity", but rather a way to have regular intercourse with someone they enjoy that experience with. This need not take all day, at least once the honeymoon is over.
If you have children together, things are somewhat different. Though not wildly so if you live in the same part of town. Of course, if you live in different states, that's another matter. But in most of these cases anyway, the children that might be are from previous relationships. They have no interest at all in living with some weird stranger all the time and have to look at their parent being affectionate with the stranger too. Far better to just have mom or dad pop over to visit their "friend" now and again.
In our culture, living together is the single defining trait of a marriage-like relationship. In inner-Mediterranean culture, sleeping together was traditionally the defining factor. In some African tribes, eating together did the trick. A young boy and girl could sleep together for a while, but when they started eating together, that was it. In our society, living together is the defining act. (Provided you are in a romantic relationship ... or could be suspected to be. Roomies are OK, if they don't seem like a possible mate.) Here in Norway at least, parents who have a child together are treated as married with regard to taxes, welfare etc if they live together. Otherwise not. If they live across the street from one another, they are single parents.
One may question the sanity of a system that gives huge monetary rewards for having kids grow up with anyone else than their father (or more rarely mother). But that's another matter. And sanity is not exactly the core realm of politics anyway.
Oh, and I'm sure some feminists would point out that in a traditional one-household family, the woman would be expected to do all the housework as well as having a full time job. By having a separate home, she still has to do all her housework as well as doing a full time job, but at least the man has to keep his own house in navigable shape. The pleasure of not doing that for him should probably not be underestimated ... Further research is needed to find out whether the 2-home trend is really female-driven, though.
I remember a novel I wrote (or rather started writing) that was set in the 1990es. This was at the time when the 90es was still the future, when we would have personal computers that fetched our news over the phone while we were sleeping. When people would leave the cities because they could live anywhere and work anywhere; the world would be connected, and distance would be dead. My main character lived in a part- time marriage. Most of the month he spent alone on a farm on the south coast of Norway, but one week each month he would spend together with his wife. That would be enough, I figured, that he would start missing her and longing for her. Not that I know much about that. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I'm not sure what my personal preference would be in this. But I'm sure it doesn't matter any longer.
Sun again! Can you believe it?
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.