I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
-Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter to her husband
While I hope never to experience the deep bouts of depression Virginia Woolf suffered, I can understand that letter to her husband. I can understand a woman, who is her own entity and in charge of her own feelings and life, wishing not to hurt the man she loves. I believe she meant it when she said, “If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.”
Full disclosure: I’m not married. I have, however, been in a relationship for five years. And in these five years I’ve faced the strains that come with living with someone, changing with someone and compromising with someone on a daily basis. I know what it’s like to love someone more than you love yourself and at times, feel debilitating anger for someone you thought you had nothing but love for. I know what it’s like to fight and make up or, more aptly, fight and move on. I know what it’s like to build resentments and more importantly, let them go.
That being said, I still don’t know what it takes to have a good marriage. I may not know that until I’ve been married 30 plus years. Or maybe I’ll never know. I have some ideas of what will hurt it, lessons I’ve learned from almost destroying my own relationship. And lessons on things that saved it.
As I get older I realize the beauty of marriage isn’t in the passion, but in the simplicity. In the small ways people care for each other day after day. In the ways they grow to not only accept, but love the other’s flaws. In the small sacrifices they make for each other without realizing it.
Dear, there have been times when I have felt lacerated and broken beyond repair. But that does pass – and the fact that this precious central thing in my life, what I have with you, does remain gives me such courage and calm of mind.
— Iris Murdoch from a letter to Philippa Foot
A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.
― Anne Lamott
I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted.
— Joan Didion
The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like inter-arching searchlights.
― Edith Wharton
A trustworthy marriage has weathered temptation and anger and jealousy, resentment, self-righteousness and a little bit of selfishness. When you get over and get through that, then maybe you can see the light to love
— Ruby Dee
You are in my blood. I can’t help it. We can’t be anywhere except together.
— Francesca Lia Block
We had terrible fights. But there was never anything that happened, no matter how incredible it might seem, that we didn’t forgive each other for or agree to let go. Ossie and I both finally understood that there wasn’t any reason we could come up with to ever leave each other.
— Ruby Dee
I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother.
― Martha Gellhorn
Sexiness wears thin after awhile and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that is a treat.
― Joanne Woodward
My husband and I have never considered divorce… murder sometimes, but never divorce.
― Joyce Brothers
We get together on the basis of our similarities; we grow on the basis of our differences.
― Virginia Satir
Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.
― Barbara De Angelis
Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.
― Simone Signoret
A good marriage is different to a happy marriage.
― Debra Winger
People ask what the secret of a happy marriage is. If there is one, it’s ‘don’t talk about it.’
― Jane Asher
If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.
We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.
— Ellen Goodman