Darwin links to a post about class differences between marriage partners. Um, I'll just copy a big chunk of this from Darwin.
Oliver and Maggie are young, very much in love, and planning their honeymoon. What should be an exciting series of conversations becomes surprisingly unpleasant. Maggie resents Oliver’s nonchalance about where the trip should be; he’s seemingly happy with almost any destination. Oliver finds the normally easy-going Maggie strangely rigid and demanding about where to take the trip, and doesn’t understand her anxious, almost obsessive research into the possible details of each honeymoon location.
Finally, it occurs to Oliver to ask a question: “Do you imagine that this is the only trip we are going to take together?”.
Maggie bursts out “Of course it is!” and starts to cry.
What is going on? Oliver grew up middle class and therefore anticipates a lifetime of travel with his future spouse, of which the honeymoon is only one journey. Maggie grew up in a community where virtually everyone was flat on their uppers. For her, a honeymoon is the only trip a couple would take, the sole travel memory they would share between themselves and with their children and grandchildren for 50 years to come. For her the choice was thus fraught with fear that she and Oliver’s one and only venture into the wider world would be less than perfect.
Another couple, Alphonse and Pat, generally get along well until something in their household breaks and a long-running feud comes to the surface. When the dishwasher floods the floor, for example, Alphonse digs out the service manual and his tool kit and commences to tinker with it over a few days until its function is restored. Pat simmers with anger at the days without a dishwasher and the grimy tools and grease stains on the kitchen floor. Alphonse is bitter that Pat doesn’t seem to admire how handy he is at fixing things around the house.
What is going on? Alphonse grew up in a blue collar home in which calling a repairman was considered an extravagance and in which men were supposed to know how to fix things with their own two hands. Pat grew up in an upper middle class home in which the only thing in the tool box was a cell phone. When Pat’s high-powered professional parents needed something to be repaired, they hired someone and it was done immediately, no muss no fuss.
MrsDarwin and I have very nearly identical class backgrounds, so I don't think there's ever been a time when we've found ourselves working from different assumptions like this. There have been a number of times at work, however, when I've found myself suddenly conscious of my background assumptions as compared to those of other people....
Darwin goes on to write about having "a deep feeling that 'people like us don't have vacation cottages' or 'people like us do our own yard work.'"
I'm tempted to go off in three different directions in response to the post, which has a lot of food for thought, but right here I'll write about the first one that struck me upon reading the fictional frictions between Oliver and Maggie and between Alphonse and Pat, based on unspoken assumptions that arise from their backgrounds.
It reminded me of my marriage, just a bit. Not because of significant economic class distinctions between Mark and me, but because of this difference: A large fraction of my cohort of friends came from divorced families, and not one of my parents or my parents' siblings had stayed married. Whereas in my husband's family and cohort, almost everyone had stayed married. Mark comes from a place where it is assumed that marriages last. I come from a place where it was assumed that they do not.
Indeed, during the time that Mark and I were planning our wedding, one close relative warned me (technically not "to my face" -- it was over the phone) that my marriage would likely fail.
The difference hasn't caused arguments between us, not that I can remember (maybe it did while we were dating) -- but it has from time to time caused us to be bemused at each other's reactions.
I guess most of the bemusement comes from me, now that I think of it.