[FOUNTAIN]Words of wisdom about marriageAt the age of 35, Benjamin Disraeli, who was prime minister of the United Kingdom during the reign of Queen Victoria, married a widow fifteen years his senior. Although his wife was not especially pretty, cultured or educated, she was a very wealthy woman. One day, Mr. Disraeli confessed that he had married her for her money. His wife replied, “Ah! But if you had to do it again, you would do it for love.”
Marriage exists somewhere between composure and passion. Some marriages are the fruit of blind love, but others are compromises involving material considerations. It is hard to judge which is better. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “A love marriage is born between the father named mistake and the mother named desire.”
On the other hand, a Scottish proverb advises, “Don’t marry for money, because you can borrow money at much lower interest.” In other words, marrying for materialistic reasons can exact a higher price. The 16th-century English playwright Ben Johnson concluded that there was no worse thing than marrying only for money, and no more foolish thing than marrying only for love.
A perfect marriage should involve just the right combination of love and reason, but this is easier said than done. Take Mr. Disraeli’s marriage. Ms. Disraeli sincerely respected her husband, and provided a comfortable home for him to come back to after an exhausting day. Mr. Disraeli would stay up late to describe his day in detail for his wife, and to ask for her opinions. The couple remained married for 30 years; later, Mr. Disraeli recalled that there had not been a single occasion in their marriage in which his wife had hurt him.
The JoongAng Ilbo recently reported the results of a survey on the correlation between wealth and appearance in marriage. Wives were categorized by their physical appearance into five increasingly attractive groups; in each group, the average salary of the women’s husbands was 3.24 million won ($3,170) higher than in the next-less-attractive group. We all would have guessed such results, but it leaves a bitter taste to see it laid out in numbers. I hope single men and women will learn from Mr. Disraeli’s marriage. They must remember that marriage is not the end of the effort to attain love, but the beginning of the effort to create it. The French writer Alexander Dumas said that while love was physical, marriage was chemical. Then again, the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said that marriage is not a lottery, because one has at least some chance of winning a lottery.
by Lee Hoon-beom
The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.