Rebecca at Lost in Books does a weekly game where she selects a topic and challenges readers to go out and find relevant quotes in literature. This week’s theme is weddings, and since I had my wedding in a library and used passages from books in lieu of scripture readings, I couldn’t resist participating.
As we planned our wedding, hubby and I spent a lot of time thinking about the things that define us as individuals and as a couple and how to best incorporate them into our wedding. We’re not the most traditional of pairs, and we wanted our wedding to be intimate and personal and to represent us. We wanted the people we love to be able to soak up the night and say “Now this feels like Bob and Rebecca.”
We selected two of our closest, most bookish friends to give readings, and we wanted to make sure that the readings really fit us and said something about the commitments we had made to each other and the kind of marriage we intended to have. The first reading was a passage from The Great Gatsby, and the second reading, the reading I really loved and thought perfectly expressed our philosophy on marriage, was this selection from Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
I’ve always thought it was important for both people in a couple to have their own identities, their own interests, and their alone time, and this expresses that value more eloquently than I ever could. I appreciate the emphasis on the fact that a marriage is not a merging of identities and that, in order to honor and support our partners, we must allow them room to be who they are and to become who they will become.
And I love the acknowledgement that “even between the closest people infinite distances exist.“ No matter how many years we are together or how many of each other’s stories we know or how much of our hearts we share with each other—no matter how intimately we know each other—each of us will, in some ways, always be a mystery to the other. And that’s a beautiful thing. We can never know absolutely everything about each other, and that makes the bonds we feel and the commitments we live out on a daily basis something to truly be in awe of.
So there you have it, my philosophy on the meaning and making of a marriage, courtesy of Rainer Maria Rilke. I’m telling you, my love of literature really does permeate every aspect of my life.
I’d love to hear about quotes from literature that define or inspire your philosophy on marriage and relationships, so please, talk amongst yourselves! And head on over to Lost in Books to play the quote game.
Filed under: Life | Tagged: letters to a young poet, marriage, rainer maria rilke, wedding readings | 4 Comments »