By Alain de Botton
A friend of mine made me listen to a radio talk in Australia, and Alain was a guest then. He talked about relationships and mentioned about this book. I thought it was interesting, hence, I got it from Book Depository.
The story isn’t unsual. It’s about how Rabi and Kristen, two very different people met and in the process, created a great family relationship. Common? Yes. But what I liked about this book was the fact that every stages and every conflict were discussed indepthly. Discussed were the psychological and philosopical approaches on why and how the feelings were felt and the reactions were elicited on a given situtation. These explanations were effectively italized and inserted in between the events.
I guess, people who are planning to be in a relationship should read this as an eye-opener to what it is like to be in a committed relationship. Here are my favorite lines:
“He and Kirsten will marry, they will suffer, they will frequently worry about money, they will have a girl first, then a boy, one of them will have an affair, there will be passages of boredom, they’ll sometimes want to murder one another and on a few occasions kill themselves. This will be a real love story.” page 15
“ The marriage for reason was not, from any sincere perspective, reasonable at all, it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish, exploitative and abusive. Which is why what has replaced it- the marriage of feeling – has largely been spared the need to account for itself. What matters is that two people wish desperately for it to happen, are drawn to one another by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right……The prestige of instinct is the legacy of a collective traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable ‘reason’. – Pg 36-37
“The success of any relationship should be determined not just by how happy a couple are to be together, but by how worried each partner would be about not being in a relationship at all.” – Pg 40
“He entertains a confused wish to help her, without, however, understanding that help can be a challenging gift to deliver to those who are most in need of it. He interprets her damaged aspects in the most obvious and most lyrical way : as a chance for him to play a useful role. “- Pg 41
“We don’t need to be constantly reasonable in order to have a good relationships- all we need to have mastered is the occasional capacity to acknowledge with good grace that we may, in one or two areas, be somewhat insane.”- Pg 83
“We label as ‘sweet’ children’s open display of hope, trust, spontaneity, wonder, and simplicity -qualities which are under severe threat, but are deeply longed for in the ordinary run of grown-up life. The sweetness of children reminds us of how much we have had to sacrifice on the path of maturity; the sweet is a vital part of ourselves -in exile.”- Pg 116
“It feels as if he has been granted access to a version of himself which he had long thought dead….What dangers are posed by those insecure men who, unsure of their own powers of attraction, need to keep finding out whether they are acceptable to others.” – Pg 153
“ Later on, the argument makes even more sense around sex. Why would you think ill of a partner if they left you for an hour to go and rub a limited are of their body against that of a stranger? After all, you wouldn’t get enranged if they played chess with someone you didn’t know or joined a meditation group where they talked intimately of their lives by candlelight, would you? – Pg 172
“Marriage: a deeply peculiar and ultimately unkind thing to inflict on anyone one claims to care for.” Pg 178
“Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate dissimilarity that is the true marker of the ‘right’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be it’s precondition.” -Pg 215