Every marriage has a mood, a setting, a vocabulary, bone structure, a climate  

Mavis Gallant published more short stories in the New Yorker than any writer apart from John Updike, yet she is not well known in Britain. I certainly hadn’t heard of her until she died, but for the last few years I’ve been slowly making my way through “The Cost of Living,” a collection or her stories. I’ve found much that I like, including this quote on marriage.

“Every marriage is about something. It must have a plot. Sometimes it has a puzzling or incoherent plot. If you saw it acted out, it would bore you. “Turn it off,” you would say. “No one I know lives that way.” It has a mood, a setting, a vocabulary, bone structure, a climate.”

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2 thoughts on “Every marriage has a mood, a setting, a vocabulary, bone structure, a climate  

  1. I wouldn’t know much about every marriage, as I have only been married once.But it has lasted over 70 years, and as you say has had a plot, a mood, a setting, a vocabulary, s structure, and a climate. And a lot more. The plot is straightforward: we met by accident, got to know each other, knew we were right for each other, so stayed together ever since, because neither of us died. Our setting was where we were at the moment, each moment. We have been fortunate that it has included seven continents, rural and urban life, practice and academy. It has its own vocabulary, an intimacy of communication far beyond what words can or could express, except for the neologisms that let us share the ineffable. Its structure is solid but flexible, unbreakable but blowing in the wind. Its climate is cool, continually warmer and warmer, but still always cool. We love each other more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.

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  2. What a wonderful description of a marriage that last has lasted 70 years: maybe a cool climate is essential for a long marriage.

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