The trouble with all this love business

From The Paris Review: W. H. Auden, The Art of Poetry (interviewed by Michael Newman):

INTERVIEWER

What about the rites of marriage?

AUDEN

Well, I’m perfectly congenial to the idea of weddings, but what I think ruins so many marriages, though, is this romantic idea of falling in love. It happens, of course, I suppose to some people who are possessed of unusually fertile imaginations. Undoubtedly it is a mystical experience which occurs. But with most people who think they are in love I think the situation can be described far more simply, and, I’m afraid, brutally. The trouble with all this love business is one or the other partner ends up feeling bad or guilty because they don’t have it the way they’ve read it. I’m afraid things went off a lot more happily when marriages were arranged by parents. I do think it is absolutely essential that both partners share a sense of humor and an outlook on life. And, with Goethe, I think marriages should be celebrated more quietly and humbly, because they are the beginning of something. Loud celebrations should be saved for successful conclusions.

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