Wisdom from the Ages: Quotes About Marriage

Although the bad behavior of the modern American woman is amusing blog fodder, the truth is that American women are no different than women of old. We American men have it bad – just as every man in every other time. Don’t believe me? Read Schopenhauer’s essay, “On Women.”

When Socrates was about to take the hemlock, he had to send away his hysterical wife who was throwing a fit and basically being a pain in the ass.

Some will say, “But what about Eastern European women?!” Men have always been attracted to exotic women. But are Russian women any different?

If Russian women are so great, why would men rather drink Vodka than date these beauties? Could it be that these Russian drunks know something we don’t?

It’s easy to imagine women are different when you are only sleeping with them. A woman doesn’t become real until you are married to her.

Here is Tolstoy on the fabled Russian woman:

“Never, never marry, my dear fellow! That’s my advice: never marry till you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until you have ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as she is, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you are old and good for nothing or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. It will all be wasted on trifles. Yes! Yes! Yes! Don’t look at me with such surprise. If you marry expecting anything from yourself in the future, you will feel at every step that for you all is ended, all is closed except the drawing room, where you will be ranged side by side with a court lackey and an idiot! . . . But what’s the good? . . .”

Fjodor Dostojevski, in The Brothers Karamazov, wrote:

[Dmitri Karamazov talking to his brother, Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov: ]

“God preserve you, my dear boy, from ever asking forgiveness for a fault from a woman you love. From one you love especially, however greatly you may have been in fault. For a woman — devil only knows what to make of a woman! I know something about them, anyway. But try acknowledging you are in fault to a woman. Say, ‘I am sorry, forgive me,’ and a shower of reproaches will follow! Nothing will make her forgive you simply and directly, she’ll humble you to the dust, bring forward things that have never happened, recall everything, forget nothing, add something of her own, and only then forgive you. And even the best, the best of them do it. She’ll scrape up all the scrapings and load them on your head. They are ready to flay you alive, I tell you, every one of them, all these angels without whom we cannot live!”

Here is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who probably had the highest IQ of any man who ever lived, writing about German women:

Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.

Ambrose Bierce described marriage in his hilarious Devil’s Dictionary:

Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.

No intellectual lightweight, Albert Einstein, made this observation about marriage:

Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.

Oscar Wilde, a bisexual man, had much to say about love and marriage:

Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.

One should always be in love. That’s the reason one should never marry.

Robert Frost could write poetry. Yet even he couldn’t get a home-cooked meal:

There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will.

Aristotle had this to say about the ideal – i.e., unattainable – wife:

A good wife should be the mistress of her home, having under her care all that is within it, according to the rules we have laid down. She should allow none to enter without her husband’s knowledge, dreading above all things the gossip of gadding women, which tends to poison the soul. She alone should have knowledge of what happens within, whilst if any harm is wrought by those from without, her husband will bear the blame. She must exercise control of the money spent on such festivities as her husband has approved, keeping, moreover, within the limit set by law upon expenditure, dress, and ornament; and remembering that beauty depends not on costliness of raiment, nor does abundance of gold so conduce to the praise of a woman as self-control in all that she does, and her inclination towards an honorable and well-ordered life.

Greek women were the same as today’s women. They gossiped and shopped and spent all of their husband’s hard-earned money.

Some old Jewish men, like the modern American man, just wanted some peace and quiet. This is from the Bible:

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike;

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.

Every marriage ends with a man in a condition Thoreau best described as quiet desperation:  “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”

Now read: Bachelorhood and Its Discontents.


Follow me on Twitter for blog updates and other exclusive content.

  • Tom White

    In previous societies fathers needed to pay men to take their daughters of their hands because they knew no worthy man would have her.

  • Pingback: Daily Linkage – November 12, 2012 | The Second Estate()

  • damngringo

    I don’t normally like Leo Tolstoy, but he nailed it this time.

  • http://rivsdiary.wordpress.com/ rivsdiary

    good stuff

  • Vinegar Tom

    Brilliant. I also like this quote by J.R.R. Tolkien:

    “Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. “

  • Disenchantment

    English Teacher X is one of my favorite blogs. It is written by an American guy who lived in Russia for several years while teaching English. He does not have such a high opinion of Russian women:

    The feminine mystique

    I like Russian girls because they’re so feminine

    A different kind of monster

  • http://www.google.com Faust

    Goethe was a smart guy with a lot of interesting things to say. His “Faust” is where I took my nickname from. Faust was a classic omega with oneitis, and there’s a lot to be learned from watching him be yanked around by the devil in his pursuit of getting laid.

  • Pingback: Lightning Round – 2012/11/14 | Free Northerner()

  • Ouroboros

    Going to have to partially disagree. Women are probably WORSE now because they have far less social restraints and have far more power than they ever have in any point in history. These elements make for women that are out of control on a whole other level.

  • lemmycaution

    Tolstoy’s wife:

    “I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.”

  • SongTalkingMan

    What about the marriages that do work? Those where mommy and daddy get along? Don’t they exists, just because there’s no public data on how they haven’t complained about their insufferable spouse? Sounds like a Schrödinger’s Marriage, with the exception that the successful one’s keep their mouths shut.