Wisdom Wednesday: Rilke on Marriage

I’m starting up a couple of weekly themed posts. I think they’ll help me keep up with the frequency of this blog as well as add some awesome content. This week, I’d like to introduce Wisdom Wednesday, where I’ll share a quote and discuss it. Let me know if you have a favorite quote or passage and I can feature it!

A good marriage is one inwhich each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude.

Rainer Maria Rilke’s views on marriage have been a fundamental part of my thinking on the subject. He makes the claim that two becoming one is an imperfect situation. In that situation, each party becomes less by entering into this relationship, and therefore, it’s a waste.

Instead, he implores the recipient of this letter to view it as an opportunity to protect the solitude of the woman he’ll marry, and to expect that she’ll do the same for him. What better way to serve your spouse than to protect their solitude, their unique self, with all your being? What greater gift is there than allowing someone to be themselves fully and completely?

If you’re interested, here’s a short passage from the letter Rilke sent to this young man:

β€œThe 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.”

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