Quote: Rilke on Marriage

Rainer Maria Rilke and Clara Rilke-Westhoff in 1901, the year of their marriage. | Wikimedia Commons

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… 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.

―Rainer Maria Rilke,  Letters to a Young Poet (written between 1902-08)

Does Rilke fly in the face of our modern conceptions of marriage as an ever approximating intimacy, in which both sides ideally grow closer together, eventually merging into one?


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