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:

“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.”


Learn to Love Solitude

It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. Rainer Maria Rilke

Living and being alone is difficult. But loneliness isn’t always a curse. In fact, it’s nice.

I’ve lived alone for a total of about two years and have had the good fortune of being able to practice quite a bit of solitude. I’ve learned to hang out with myself and rekindle some of my old favorite hobbies–I’ve started running, writing and reading like mad again. I don’t have TV or even Netflix to distract me. My evenings are quiet, but productive.

Resist the temptation to always fill your solitude with your cell phone and laptop. Take it seriously and use it to create habits that you can keep once you’re no longer alone. Pare down, organize, create, focus on what you love. Don’t seek distraction.

It’s good to be alone. Once you get into it, you’ll find it’s a simple way to clear out your mind. “How to Be Alone,” a YouTube video I came across quite by accident last year, is ultra-inspiring if you’re just starting your solitary journey:


While it does help me to have rabbits to interact with, I’m sure I’d find myself just as occupied without them. Have you had the privilege of enjoying solitude for an extended period of time?