What does the word ‘marriage’ mean to you? To some people it is a wonderful celebration of love and commitment; to others it is a ball and chain. Some people have positive reactions to the notion of marriage, whereas others use humour and sarcasm to express what they really think about it. Here are some famous quotes about marriage from literature and art, and my thoughts on what they might mean.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
When you enter into something as lifelong as ‘marriage’ is intended to be, a genuine connection between two people, that can withstand all challenges big and small, is so important! If you and your partner are real friends, then you will have the respect and consideration needed in order to make it work through the tough times; and you will still be around to really appreciate all of the good times too! Don’t just love your loved one, be their best friend!
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Well, if a man has everything else he wants and needs in life, then isn’t it safe to assume that a wife is the one thing that will complete him? I like the old fashioned innocence of this quote. I like the simplicity of the idea. Nowadays marriage isn’t expected of couples, and we like to think that we can be just as happy alone, with friends and work to fill our lives. But are we losing sight of what is most important in leading a happy and fulfilled life? Perhaps it is not necessarily marriage that we need, but it is certainly important to consider the fact that having someone special to share a life with may be what helps to allow us to feel like we have achieved everything we needed to achieve in this life, and possible the next.
“Love is an act of endless forgiveness; a tender look which becomes a habit.”
― Peter Ustinov
Isn’t this quote quite beautiful? When you love someone completely, maybe it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. What is “right” and “wrong” after all? Maybe what is more important is being able to adapt oneself to become the other half of the person you love, sharing their flaws and perfections as your own. This is a quote, which presents the notion of “habit”, which is so often depicted in a negative light when talking about marriage and long-term relationships, as a good thing. The “tender look, which becomes a habit” refers to a wonderful sense of familiarity and acceptance. Now that is what true love should look like!
“Happiness (is) only real when shared.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
If you have ever read this book or seen the film, you will probably feel the significance of this quote far more deeply. It will resonate with you, because you will have travelled the protagonist’s journey alongside him. Sometimes you might think that life would be simpler, or that you’re are so fed of the modern world you live in that you just want o escape all of the pretence and live your life in some kind of solitude. But the truth is that human beings need other human beings to bring meaning to their lives. If you need one reason to live, that reason is likely to be another living being. People get married and suddenly they have a purpose, a journey to follow, a life to build. People get married to share things with another person. So could marriage be the key to happiness, if you know how to appreciate what it is really about?
“You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride.”
― Jodi Picoult, Mercy
This is a very cynical insight into married life, but perhaps there is a lot of truth in it. The scales always tend to tip more in one direction than the other. This is what life is all about though – unpredictability and change. One day you might be head over heels in love with someone who doesn’t feel quite so intensely, but it is just because all human beings are different ad unique. It may take the other person longer to develop those kinds of feeling, and maybe a year down the line the tables change and it is your turn to feel more grounded so that you can support the insecurities of your partner who is experience all of the feelings you had back when you first met. Marriage, and relationship in general are about teamwork, and one team member is always going to be stronger than another, and as time goes by and situations change, those roles may reverse. It is good, because you can constantly learn from one another!
“Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”
― Albert Einstein
This quote reminds me of the fact that too often we have unrealistic expectations of our partners, and then when we are disappointed we project blame onto the other person. But that isn’t fair. People, especially people who have married another person and committed for life, need to be more realistic, and more forgiving, not of the other person, but of themselves for expecting too much!
“The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing – and then marry him.”
Don’t you just love those sarcastic comments women make about marriage? Isn’t it fun to refer to men in a derogatory manner because they are never what we want them to be in the end? This quote by Cher makes me think about the over-importance we place how perfect we think or want the men we fall for to be. We women are the cause of our own cynicism about marriage!
“Getting divorced just because you don’t love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do. ”
― Zsa Zsa Gabor
What an interesting way to think about divorce! Are we giving up on marriage when we shouldn’t? Are we missing the point of marriage? Is marriage really about love? If not, then what else is it about, and why are so many people so disillusioned about the meaning of marriage? We are living in an age where it is easy to give up on thing, change direction, reinvent ourselves, become anonymous, and renounce all sense of responsibility. Is it right? I’m not so sure.
“Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary
This quote suggests that love is an elixir, and marriage is sobering. Marriage is reality. Love is an illusion. Marriage is what separates the weak from the strong. If you get married you are proving to the world that you take yourself and your relationship seriously, you are stating that it means something, and you are challenging the strength of your relationship, and essentially the love that brought you together. Are you confident that the love between you and your partner is for real? Maybe you will only know the truth after you have been married?
“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
― Katharine Hepburn
Whoever coined the saying “Women are from Venus, men are from mars” had a point! There are so many obvious differences between the ways in which the male and female mind works, and yet we still don’t seem to be able to understand one another! If it is that difficult for us to be more sympathetic to our opposing sex, then perhaps it really would be a better option to just live next door to our spouses and visit now and then! Maybe just come together at dinner-time?
“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
― Audrey Hepburn
This is such a sweet quote. The enthusiasm is inspiring, and it makes you think of times when young girls dreamt of being brides and living happily ever after with their new husbands. Should we be embracing marriage in this way more? Maybe if we did then couples would be focusing on getting the most out of being married, rather than allowing things to fall apart when they don’t seem to be working. If you are married, keep hold of that initial enthusiasm you had! Don’t let the dream die.
“Marriage can wait, education cannot.”
― Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
It is important to be able to prioritise things in our lives, and understand that not everything has to happen immediately. Say you meet someone and fall in love, why do you have to get married immediately? People spend such a lot of money on weddings, but could that money be spent in more useful ways that will benefit you right now? Just because you don’t get married immediately, it doesn’t mean that you risk not getting married, so why not wait, and focus instead on the things that affect your life right now? In fact the longer you wait, the more likely you will be to know whether it is right for you, and if you are right for each other. Many people get married quickly because they fear something – perhaps they fear missing out on a good opportunity, or losing someone who could make a real difference to their life? If they are the one though, they will still be there, and in the meantime it is up to you to focus on making a difference to your own life. Get that education, go travelling, take the job, let your relationship grow stronger, and feel more confident in your partner as each day goes by and they are still there!
“I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother.”
― Martha Gellhorn, Selected Letters
This is an interesting observation. If a man hates his mother, you may want to wonder how that relationship has affected him. What are his views on women? What are his feelings about building a family? Does he respect the women in his life or does he have a problem with women in positions of authority. Always be aware of how a man who hates his mother interacts with other women. Is there any projection going on? On the other hand, after some careful observation you may learn that he is perfectly normal and a better man for not loving his mother in the way society thinks a man should love his mother. As long as the observations are being made! Never overlook anything when making a decision as important as marrying someone!
“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”
― Mae West, The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said
Some people view married life, as something only a crazy person would choose. These people are often single or divorced. Don’t concern yourself too much with the opinions of people whose circumstances are entirely different from your own though. The mistake is in making comparisons, you see. You should think of your marriage or relationship as being completely unique, and not like anyone else’s relationship or marriage. That way you will never be at the mercy of other people’s judgments, and if they insist on placing their judgements upon you, you can just ignore them because they simply don’t apply!
“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?”
― Barbra Streisand
The answer, dear Barbara, is that women are very, very complicated creatures indeed. Men will never, ever live up to a woman’s expectation. This is mostly because her expectations will continually change. The only way a man can appease his wife, is to ignore her complaints and just be himself, at least then he will give her something to complain about – because let’s face it, according to Streisand’s quote, women enjoy the act of complaining, it is what being a wife is all about apparently.
“Catholics don’t believe in divorce. We do believe in murder. There’s always Confession, after all.
–Brianna Fraser to Roger MacKenzie”
― Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone
Ha! I like it. There is certainly a lot of hypocrisy, not only in religion, but in marriage and everything to do with life and the ways in which human beings choose to live it. But for some reason this is the only way we understand our world. If everything were perfect we would have nothing to figure out after all, and nothing to oppose. Take “marriage” for example, how many contradictions and hypocrisies can you think of to do with marriage? Well, there are far too many to think about, yet people continue to marry, divorce and marry again. Our kind is just like that.
“Marriage is not a process for prolonging the life of love, sir. It merely mummifies its corpse.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, The Small Bachelor
Yikes – this is a quote that really expresses the cynicism involved in many a person’s interpretation of marriage. Is marriage really just a way to set something in stone? Is it just a way to preserve an obscure notion like “love’, that is meant to be a wonderful and intense experience, yet fleeting? If so, then is this why so many marriages are fleeting? If love is a wild bird, and we want to catch it and cage it so that we can enjoy it forever until it dies, isn’t that entirely selfish? Then perhaps too many people are marrying for selfish reasons too. Are we that afraid of losing love that we have to contain it? And in effect we have to contain another human being, and lock them into a bond that is validated mainly by the approval of society. It leads to wonder if marriage is actually what is preventing human beings from staying together naturally, or knowing who they are really meant to share their lives with. My greatest fear is being stuck for the rest of my life with the wrong person.