Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Marriage

In the Confucian model integrated into old Eastern cultures, marriage is more of a business deal where something of value is given and something of roughly equivalent value received. Marriage choice is based on practical concerns and life after marriage based on good manners. While in Western traditions, marriage always had a practical side (e.g. dowries, forced and arranged marriage), they also tended to have a strong, religious foundation and developed with a kind of devotional, eternalistic spirit. Plato described the ancient myth of humans in the distant past being perfect, round beings that the gods became jealous of and split into two parts of male and female that are forever looking to rejoin. The age of Romanticism brought a deeply emotional and dramatic feeling to relationships and marriage, unrealistic attitudes and expectations still strongly influential today. And through these cultural, philosophical and religions prerogatives; our genetic heritage weaves its own powerful, highly evolved impact.

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Quotes (86)

“‘Perseverance furthers,’ for it is perseverance that make the difference between seduction and courtship.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 31
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

43. No Effort, No Trace

“When two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via George Seldes
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

“For a man can win nothing better than a good wife, and nothing more painful than a bad one.”

Hesiod 846 – 777 BCE
“History’s first economist”
from Works and Days

Themes: Marriage

“What else but tears is now my hapless lot, whose country, children, husband, all are lost”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Trojan Women

Themes: Marriage Family

“He hewed the humans in two just as one cuts fruit for preservation… After that, with their natures hewn in two, each one missed the union with its other half… nor would it appear that we want anything else… cooperation and fusion - becoming one out of two. For this is the basis; this is our primeval nature, described as being whole.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Marriage Oneness

45. Complete Perfection

“Chuang-tzu’s wife died. When Hui-tzu came to offer his condolences, he found him pounding on a tub and singing… Chuang-tzu said, ‘The same process that brought her to birth, in time brought her to death, as naturally as fall turns into winter and spring into summer... if I went around wailing and pounding my chest, it would only show that I didn’t understand the first thing about reality.’”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“The Tao begins in the relation between man and woman, ends in the infinite vastness of the universe.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Marriage Sex

25. The Mother of All Things

“I abhor the roaming lover, nor do I drink from every well - I loathe all things in common.”

Callimachus Καλλίμαχος 310 – 240 BCE

Themes: Marriage

“Why place so much importance on love and loss of love when we know one day we must leave everyone?”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 4th C. BCE via Zhang Zhan (370 CE) / Eva Wong
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: Marriage Love

“Marry a chicken, follow a chicken. Marry a dog, follow a dog.”

Anonymous -800 to present via Chinese proverbs
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

Themes: Marriage

“in the beginning the Eloheim created mortals male and female; they were one body, perfectly united and absolutely equal…. when you are redeemed from the Fall, male and female will cease to exist, you will become a perfect whole, accomplishing a single work.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Didymos Thomas
from Gospel According to Thomas

Themes: Marriage Oneness

39. Oneness

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they a found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman 50 shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE
from Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Themes: Sex Marriage

“Your spouse is going to be dead soon. You are going to be dead soon. Be nice to each other.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE via Alan Wallace
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

“Many men hoard for the future husbands of their wives.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Ascher
(Avicebron)
from Choice of Pearls

Themes: Marriage Greed

“She who weds a rich man rather than a poor and desires more things in her husband than he does himself, deserves payment rather than love.”

Heloise 1090 – 1164 CE via Shan Dao

“I preferred love to wedlock, freedom to a bond.”

Heloise 1090 – 1164 CE

Themes: Marriage Freedom

“You have entered into my heart and limbs.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Jack Weatherford

Themes: Marriage Love

“The desire in the female for the male is so that they may perfect each other's work... they appear to be opposites but the truth they serve is one, each desiring the other for the perfection of their work.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE via Helminski and Rezwani
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Love's Ripening

Themes: Marriage Sex

“If a married man goes to a distance from home to be absent for 20 days, his wife has a right to take another husband. The men, on the same principle, marry wherever they happen to reside.”

Marco Polo 1254 – 1324 CE
Epitome of adventurous business, political, and geographical exploration
from Travels of Marco Polo

Themes: Marriage

“Women – can’t live with them or without them.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"

“A pretty face may be enough to catch a man, but it takes character and good nature to hold him.”

Thomas More 1478 – 1535 CE
from Utopia

Themes: Marriage Beauty

“[Marriage] happens as with cages: the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE

Themes: Marriage

“the best marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE

Themes: Marriage

29. Not Doing

“And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Themes: Marriage Moon

“Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer

Themes: Marriage Beauty

“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards..”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from Poor Richard's Almanack

29. Not Doing
61. Lying Low

“The liberty of divorce is not only a cure for hatred and domestic quarrels; it is also an admirable preservative against them, and the secret for keeping alive that love which first united the married couple.”

David Hume 1711 – 1776 CE
"One of the most important philosophers"
from Of Polygamy and Divorces

Themes: Marriage

“If they hastily seek consummation and merely attain a moment's pleasure; not only will the woman not be happy, neither will the man and the relationship will surely fail in the long run.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao, #53 Gradual Progress
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

Themes: Marriage Sex

“It is absurd to expect the inclinations and wishes of two human beings to coincide, through any long period of time. To oblige them to act and live together is to subject them to some inevitable potion of thwarting, bickering, and unhappiness.”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

Themes: Marriage

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives; that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist
from Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

Themes: Marriage

“Marriage should be forbidden to individuals who have known each other less than 6 months.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE via Herold

Themes: Marriage

“Happy marriages are well known to be rare, just because it lies in the nature of marriage that its chief end is not the present but the coming generation.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: Marriage

“Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one another's being mingle:— Why not I with thine?”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE

Themes: Marriage

“A system could not well have been devised more studiously hostile to human happiness than marriage.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Notes on Queen Mab, 1813

Themes: Marriage

“Our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve – and will achieve all over the world… the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest.”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"

Themes: Oneness Marriage

“No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

Themes: Marriage

“Love is like any other luxury. You have no right to it unless you can afford it.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

Themes: Marriage Sex

“Respect alone isn’t enough for a happy marriage!”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Marriage

“For property is robbery, but then, we are all robbers or would-be robbers together, and have found it essential to organize our thieving, as we have found it necessary to organize our lust and our revenge. Property, marriage, the law; as the bed to the river, so rule and convention to the instinct; and woe to him who tampers with the banks while the flood is flowing.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

“Marriage as a long conversation. When marrying you should ask yourself if you are going to enjoy talking with this woman into your old age? Everything else in a marriage is transitory.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE via Shan Dao, et alia
from Human All Too Human - A Book for Free Spirits

Themes: Marriage

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

“My husband and I were persons of quite different construction, different bent, completely dissimilar views. But we always remained ourselves, in no way echoing nor currying favor with one another.”

Anna Grigoryevna Dostoyevskaya ригорьевна Достоевская 1846 – 1918 CE

Themes: Marriage

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. Women have a more subtle instinct about these things. What (women) like is to be a man’s last romance.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

Themes: Marriage

“A man alone is only half a man—it takes both a man and a woman to complete the circuit... sublime thoughts and great deeds are the children of married minds.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thosand and One Epigrams, 1911

Themes: Marriage

“To civilize mankind: make marriage difficult and divorce easy.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Marriage

“We choose not randomly each other. We meet only those who already exists in our subconscious.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

“When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that exalted, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until dealt do they part... Make divorce as easy, as cheap, and as private as marriage.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Getting Married, 1908

Themes: Marriage

“When considering marriage one should ask oneself this question; 'will I be able to talk with this person into old age?' Everything else is transitory, the most time is spent in conversation”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Marriage

“It seems clear to me that marriage ought to be constituted by children, and relations not involving children ought to be ignored by the law and treated as indifferent by public opinion. It is only through children that relations cease to be a purely private matter.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Unpopular Essays

Themes: Marriage

“the psychological relationship between the sexes… the real domain of woman. Woman's psychology is founded on the principle of Eros, the great binder and loosener, whereas from ancient times the ruling principle ascribed to man is Logos.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

42. Children of the Way

“Frailty, thy name is marriage.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: Marriage

“With twice his wits, she had to see things through his eyes—one of the tragedies of married life.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Mrs. Dalloway

Themes: Marriage

“if one's husband was always sailing round Cape Horn, was it marriage? If one liked him, was it marriage? If one liked other people, was it marriage? And finally, if one still wished, more than anything in the whole world, to write poetry, was it marriage? She had her doubts.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

Themes: Marriage

“I worship you, but I loathe marriage. I hate its smugness, its safety, its compromise and the thought of you interfering with my work, hindering me; what would you answer?”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Marriage

“She could feel herself poisoned through and through, and was forced at length to consider the most desperate of remedies, which was to yield completely and submissively to the spirit of the age, and take a husband.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

Themes: Marriage

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Marriage

“Our prevailing mode of marriage—chaotic and deliquescent as it is—represents a pleasant refinement on marriage by capture or purchase... there is less brutality between men and women... The emancipation of woman and her ascendancy over man indicate an unprecedented gentility in the once murderous male.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE via R.J. Hollingdale
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Marriage

“Love generated by physical attraction of boy and girl is an accident of hormones and propinquity; to found a lasting marriage upon such a haphazard and transitory condition is ridiculous.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Age of Napoleon

Themes: Marriage Sex

“Man is secretly and ravenously polygamous... and yet the earlier the love, the fresher and deeper it must be; no man can love after 30 with the ardor and self-abandonment of youth... if we could find a way to restore marriage to its natural age, we should at one stroke reduce by half the prostitution, the venereal disease, the fruitless celibacy, the morbid chastity, and the experimental perversions that stigmatize our contemporary life.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Marriage

“Marriage began as a form of the law of property, as a part of the institution of slavery.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Marriage

“It was a marriage of love. He was sufficiently spoiled to be charming; she was ingenuous enough to be irresistible. Like two floating logs they met in a head-on rush, caught, and sped along together.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from The Jazz Age

Themes: Marriage

“Our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve – and will achieve all over the world… the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest.”

Ariel Durant 1898 – 1981 CE
(Chaya Kaufman)

Themes: Oneness Marriage

“Our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve – and will achieve all over the world… the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest”

Ariel Durant 1898 – 1981 CE
(Chaya Kaufman)

Themes: Oneness Marriage

“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… Marriage is the reunion of the separated duad, the recognition of a spiritual identity”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Marriage

“The second stage of marriage, the alchemical stage, is a sacrificing of the visible entity for a transcendent good, two experiencing that they are one. If still living in the primary stage of marriage, they will go apart when the children leave. Daddy will fall in love with a young, nubile girl and run off; Mother will be left with an empty house and heart.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Marriage

“Marriage is not a love affair. Marriage is a comitment to that which you are, that person is literally your other half. A love affair is a relationship for pleasure and when it gets to be unpleasureable, it's off. Marriage is a life commitment , the prime concern of your life. If it's not the prime concern, you're not married.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Pleasure Marriage

“Take off your dress and stockings;
Sit in the deep chair before the fire.
I will warm your feet in my hands;
I will warm your breasts and thighs with kisses.
I wish I could build a fire
In you that would never go out.
I wish I could be sure that deep in you
Was a magnet to draw you always home.”

Kenneth Rexroth 1905 – 1982 CE
"Father of the Beats”

Themes: Marriage

“Passion and marriage are essentially irreconcilable. Their origins and their ends make them mutually exclusive. Their co-existence in our midst constantly raises insoluble problems, and the strife thereby engendered constitutes a persistent danger for every one of our social safeguards.”

Denys de Rougemont 1906 – 1985 CE
Non-conformist leader, influential cultural theorist
from Love in the Western World

Themes: Desire Marriage

“My wife loves me; ‘O what joys behind hibiscus curtains!’ My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine I have a charming blue-eyed cat.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.”

Gabriel García Márquez 1927 – 2014 CE
(Gabo, Gabito)
The greatest Colombian

Themes: Sex Marriage

“Couples that enter the sacrament of marriage and are not prepared to go the distance or are not willing to get right with the real love of God cannot thrive. They may cleave together like robins or gulls or anything else that mates for life. But if they eschew this mighty course, at the moment when all are judged for the disposition of their eternal lives, their cleaving won't mean a thing.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Paradise (1997)​

Themes: Marriage

“When people are young and 'in love,' they have strong biological bonds, genes and hormones creating attraction and a kind of genetic glue. When older though and into or past their main reproductive years, that gene-hormone-glue dissolves and continuing the relationship requires a re-negotiation, a more rational foundation, a more conscious choice.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Marriage

“that most ignoble form of real estate, the possessive occupation and tyranny over two square inches of human flesh”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE
from Beautiful Losers

Themes: Marriage

“marriage is the hottest furnace of the spirit today, much more difficult than solitude, much more challenging for people who want to work on themselves. It’s a situation in which there are no alibis, excruciating most of the time… but it’s only in this situation that any kind of work can be done.”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE

Themes: Marriage

“Marriage is the hottest furnace of the spirit today, much more difficult than solitude, much more challenging for people who want to work on themselves. It’s a situation in which there are no alibis, excruciating most of the time… but it’s only in this situation that any kind of work can be done.”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE

Themes: Marriage

“Whenever we talk about relationship, we manage to reduce ourselves into just simply one louse trying to fight another louse in the crack of a seam in our shirt — psychiatrists, marriage counselors, physicians, and local gurus all do that.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Evam seminar
from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa

Themes: Marriage

“A pretty face may last a year or two; but pretty soon they’ll see what you can do.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Marriage Beauty

12. This Over That

“Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet... putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Themes: Marriage

“I'm looking for hard headed woman, one who'll make me do my best
And if I find my hard headed woman, I know the rest of my life will be blessed”

Cat Stevens 1948 CE – via Hard Headed Woman
(Steven Demetre Georgiou, Yusuf Islam)

Themes: Marriage

“You don't have to be stupid to marry the wrong man... Isn't that what love is—losing your mind? You don't see your beloved's faults... [but] when the anesthesia of love wears off, there is always the pain of consequences.”

Amy Tan 1952 CE –
Rock and roll singer, bartender, and insightfully talented author
from Saving Fish From Drowning

“Maybe that’s what a marriage is… Some kind of performance… not just a conversation, but a performance.”

Kim Stanley Robinson 1952 CE –
from 2312

Themes: Marriage

“A huge majority—980 of the 1154 past or present societies for which anthropologists have data—have permitted a man to have more than one wife… [but] most marriages have been monogamous”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

Themes: Marriage

“Proud families spend fortunes on a one-day wedding ceremony for a marriage that may or may not last, while on the same day, in the same village, people are dying of starvation.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

30. No War

“Such a cozy room, the windows are illuminated… Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard; Life used to be so hard; Now everything is easy 'cause of you.”

Crosby Stills & Nash 1968 CE –

Themes: Marriage Family

47. Effortless Success

“Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge

Themes: Marriage

“What is fascinating about marriage is why anyone wants to get married.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge

Themes: Marriage

Sources

War of the Sexes

by Paul Seabright

Author and British Professor of Economics

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