Quotations about   marriage

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A great marriage is like two trees standing tall, side by side. Their branches intertwine so beautifully, so gracefully, they almost become one, yet they remain two. Standing together, they are strong, beautiful and better able to withstand the high winds of storms that come now and then. They are separate living things, yet so interdependent, growing more beautifully entwined year after year. Providing shade, comfort, and safety for each other and all who walk their way.

Other Authors and Sources
Carl Walter, Grand Prize winner, “Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week” Marriage Metaphor Competition (2015)
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Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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Marriage is a great institution — but I’m not ready for an institution.

Mae West (1892-1980) American film actress
I’m No Angel [Tira] (1933)

West played the character and wrote the screenplay.
Added on 13-Mar-19 | Last updated 13-Mar-19
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Successful marriage: The union of two good forgivers.

Robert Quillen (1887-1948) American journalist and humorist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Column Review in 1935.
Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or friendship, is conversation.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
De Profundis, “Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis” (1897)
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Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 1-Jan-19
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Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
“Talk and Talkers” (1882)
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Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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We cannot do without it, and yet we disgrace and vilify the same. It may be compared to a cage, the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair to get out.

[Il en advient ce qui se veiod aux cages: les oyseaux qui en sont dehors, desperent d’y entrer: et d’un pareil soing en sortir, ceuix qui sont au dedans.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
“Upon Some Verses of Virgil,” Essays (1580-88)

On marriage. For more discussion of others who have used this metaphor, see here.

Alt. trans.: "We cannot live without it, and yet we do nothing but decry it. It happens, as with cages, the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out." [tr. Cotton (1877)]

Alt. trans.: "Though we cannot live without it, yet we do nothing but decry it. We see the same with birdcages: the birds outside despair to get in, and those within despair to get out. [Autobiography, ch. 6 "This Discreet Business of Marriage," tr. Lowenthal (1935)]

Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words.

Joyce Brothers (1927-2013) American psychologist, television personality, advice columnist
“When Your Husband’s Affection Cools,” Good Housekeeping (May 1972)
Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins.

Langdon Mitchell (1862-1935) American playwright
The New York Idea (1907)
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Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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A man who marries a woman to educate her falls victim to the same fallacy as the woman who marries a man to reform him.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard (1927)
Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Aug-18
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For the whole thing about matrimony is this: We fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character. Behind the pretty wallpaper and the brightly painted plaster lurk the yards of tangled wire and twisted pipes, ready to run a short or spring a leak on us without a word of warning.

Peter De Vries (1910-1993) American editor, novelist, satirist
Mrs. Wallop (1970)
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Often misquoted as "The difficulty with marriage is that ..."
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s not something you have, like a house or a car. It is not a piece of paper that proves you are husband and wife. Marriage is a behavior. It is a choice you make over and over again, reflected in the way you treat your partner every day.

Barbara De Angelis (b. 1951) American relationship consultant, lecturer, author
Ask Barbara: The 100 Most-Asked Questions About Love, Sex, and Relationships (1997)
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Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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The deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue.

Beatrice Campbell (1865-1940) English actress [Mrs. Patrick Campbell, née Beatrice Stella Tanner]
(Attributed)
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Describing her recent marriage. Quoted in Alexander Woollcott, "The First Mrs. Tanqueray," While Rome Burns (1934)
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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Marriage is not a simple love affair, it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American mythological scholar
The Power of Myth, ch. 1 “Myth and the Modern World” (1988)
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
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One was never married, and that’s his hell; another is, and that’s his plague.

Robert Burton (1577-1640) English scholar
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1.2.4.7 (1621-51)
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Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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The only real argument for marriage is that it remains the best method for getting acquainted.

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
It Seems To Me, 1925–35 (1935)
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Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three-meals-a-day and remembering to carry out the trash.

Joyce Brothers (1927-2013) American psychologist, television personality, advice columnist
“When Your Husband’s Affection Cools,” Good Housekeeping (May 1972)
Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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To have a discussion coolly waived when you feel that justice is all on your side is even more exasperating in marriage than in philosophy.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 3, ch. 24 (1871)
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Added on 3-Nov-17 | Last updated 3-Nov-17
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MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
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Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.

Joseph Nicholas Barth (1906-1988) Unitarian preacher, theologian
“Our Last, Best Chance to Grow Up,” The Ladies’ Home Journal (Apr 1961)
Added on 18-Oct-17 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Well-married, a man is winged — ill-matched, he is shackled.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Norwood, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)
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Later requoted in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, ch. 17 "The Family" (1887).
Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 18-Sep-17
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Better vexation than stagnation: marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horse pond.

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) English novelist, satirist, poet, merchant
Melincourt, ch. 7 (1817)
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Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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Somehow he has internalized the ur-cultural narrative: you grow up, go to university, get a job, meet Ms. Right, get married, settle down, have kids, grow old together … it’s like some sort of checklist. Or maybe a list of epic quests you’ve got to complete while level-grinding in a game you’re not allowed to quit, with no respawns and no cheat codes.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 9 (2016)
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Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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Being a mother is a noble status, right? So why does it change when you put “unwed” or “welfare” in front of it?

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).
Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 7-Aug-17
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When one hears the argument that marriage should be indissoluble for the sake of children, one cannot help wondering whether the protagonist is really such a firm friend of childhood.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
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Added on 13-Mar-17 | Last updated 13-Mar-17
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A man must have something to grumble about; and if he can’t complain that his wife harries him to death with her perversity and ill-humour, he must complain that she wears him out with her kindness and gentleness.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. 32 [Ralph to Milicent] (1848)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 13-Dec-16
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If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married’’, then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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Added on 6-Dec-16 | Last updated 6-Dec-16
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Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

ephron-want-to-be-divorced-from-wist_info-quote

Nora Ephron (1941-2012) American screenwriter, author, journalist, director
I Feel Bad About My Neck, “What I Wish I’d Known” (2006)
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Added on 20-Oct-16 | Last updated 20-Oct-16
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“Now, Preshea,” reprimanded Dimity, “it’s no good choosing your first husband from a school for evil geniuses. Much too difficult to kill.”

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Etiquette & Espionage (2013)
Added on 20-Oct-16 | Last updated 20-Oct-16
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Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
Added on 11-Oct-16 | Last updated 11-Oct-16
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Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.

Brown - reflect the kind of care they get - wist_info quote

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Life’s Instructions for Wisdom, Success, and Happiness (2001)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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Same sex marriage isn’t gay privilege, it’s equal rights. Privilege would be something like gay people not paying taxes. Like churches don’t.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (5 Feb 2014)
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Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 26 (1759)
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The girl that I will marry
Will be like a fine wine
That will become better
A bit every morning.

[La fille que j’aimera
Sera comme bon vin
Qui se bonifiera
Un peu chaque matin.]

Brel - like a fine wine - wist_info quote

Jacques Brel (1929-1978) Belgian singer, songwriter, actor
“Bachelor’s Dance [La Bourrée Du Célibataire]” (1957)

More commonly translated for English (by Eric Blau): "The girl that I will marry / Will age without a fear / And like the wine grow mellower / With every passing year."
Added on 5-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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An ideal wife is any woman who has an ideal husband.

Tarkington - ideal wife - wist_info quote

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) American novelist and dramatist
“The Hopeful Pessimist,” Looking Forward and Others (1926)
Added on 29-Dec-15 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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A man who is happy at home doesn’t lie awake nights worrying about the hereafter.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)
Added on 15-Sep-15 | Last updated 15-Sep-15
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If a couple could see themselves twenty years later they might not recognize their love, but they would recognize their argument.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 20 (2001)
Added on 11-Sep-15 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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Marrying a man is like buying something you’ve been admiring for a long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get it home, but it doesn’t always go with everything else in the house.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
“The Ten Worst Things about a Man,” The Snake Has All the Lines (1960)
Added on 7-Sep-15 | Last updated 7-Sep-15
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Bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. It follows marriage as normally as marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
Added on 26-Aug-15 | Last updated 26-Aug-15
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That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as Beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Adams (31 Mar 1776)
Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 5-Jun-15
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Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 5:18-19 (KJV)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. May her breasts satisfy you at all times; may you be intoxicated always by her love." (NRSV)
  • So be happy with your wife and find your joy with the woman you married -- pretty and graceful as a deer. Let her charms keep you happy; let her surround you with her love." (GNT)
Added on 2-Jun-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-15
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Only the very bad or the very good are polygamists.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” #84
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Added on 22-May-15 | Last updated 22-May-15
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HARKEN: [In an interrogation room] You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
ZOE: Fought with a lot of people in the war.
HARKEN: And your husband?
ZOE: Fight with him sometimes, too.
HARKEN: Is there any particular reason you don’t wish to discuss your marriage?
ZOE: Don’t see that it’s any of your business, is all. We’re very private people.
WASH: [In a different interrogation room] The legs! [Laughs] Oh yeah, definitely have to say it was her legs. You can put that down. Her legs, and right where her legs — meet her back. That — actually, that whole area. That, and — and above it. […] Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?

Tim Minear (b. 1963) American screenwriter and director
Firefly, 1X03 “Bushwhacked” (27 Sep 2002)
Added on 30-Apr-15 | Last updated 30-Apr-15
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Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do!
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you!
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!

Harry Dacre (1857-1922) English songwriter [pseud. of Frank Dean]
“Daisy Bell” (1892)
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There is almost no marital problem that can’t be helped enormously by taking off your clothes.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
“The Old Scout,” The Writer’s Almanac (4 Oct 2005)
Added on 11-Dec-14 | Last updated 11-Dec-14
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In the end is it not futile to try and follow the course of a quarrel between husband and wife? Such a conversation is sure to meander more than any other. It draws in tributary arguments and grievances from years before — all quite incomprehensible to any but the two people they concern most nearly. Neither party is ever proved right or wrong in such a case, or, if they are, what does it signify?

Susanna Clarke (b. 1949) British author
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004)
Added on 18-Jun-14 | Last updated 18-Jun-14
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It has been remarked (by a lady infinitely cleverer than the present author) how kindly disposed the world in general feels to young people who either die or marry. Imagine then the interest that surrounded Miss Wintertowne! No young lady ever had such advantages before: for she died upon the Tuesday, was raised to life in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and was married upon the Thursday; which some people thought too much excitement for one week.

Susanna Clarke (b. 1949) British author
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004)
Added on 28-May-14 | Last updated 28-May-14
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Art is a jealous mistress, and, if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
Added on 21-Apr-14 | Last updated 25-Nov-15
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There is no true intimacy between souls who do not know how to respect one another’s solitude.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
No Man Is an Island, 9.3 (1955)
Added on 3-Mar-14 | Last updated 3-Mar-14
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A Man without a Wife is but half a Man.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jan 1755)
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Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.

Jim Carrey (b. 1962) Canadian American actor, comedian, producer.
(Attributed)
Added on 3-Dec-13 | Last updated 3-Dec-13
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Do not choose for your wife any woman you would not choose for a friend if she were a man.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 26-Aug-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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The married state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the completest image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life.

Richard Steele (1672-1729) Irish writer and politician
Spectator, #479 (9 Sep 1712)
Added on 28-May-13 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 48 (Epigraph) (1897)
Added on 14-Feb-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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What is there in the vale of life
Half so delightful as a wife,
When friendship, love, and peace combine
To stamp the marriage bond divine?

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
“Love Abused,” letter to Mary Unwin (27 Jul 1780)
Added on 16-Sep-11 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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