We draw upon the world’s secular and religious traditions, respecting the perspectives of both doubter and believer.
1. adapted from
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. How can one keep warm alone? If two lie down together, they will keep warm.
1a. original text
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good
return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the
And now I will show you the best way of all. I may
speak in tongues of men or of angels, but if I am without love, I am a
sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, and
know every hidden truth; I may have faith strong enough to move mountains;
but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may dole out all I possess, or even
give my body to be burnt, but if I have no love, I am none the better.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love
comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is
of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is
without love does not know God, for God is love.
3c. 1 John 3:18-24
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the
truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts
condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before
God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands
and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name
of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The
one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is
how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
4. adapted from
God created humans in his own image: male and female he created them. And God blessed them. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
5a. adapted from
O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your
mouth! For your love is better than wine. Your name is oil poured out.
Draw me after you; let us make haste. Arise, my love, my fair one, and
come away. You have ravished my heart, you have ravished my heart with
at a glance of your eyes. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love,
my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over
and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts
forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.
5c. adapted from
You have captured my heart, my own, my bride, you
have captured my heart with one glance of you eyes, with one coil of your
necklace. How sweet is your love, my own, my bride! How much more delightful
your love than wine, your ointments more fragrant than any spice! Sweetness
drops from your lips, O
6. adapted from
But [to Naomi] Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
7. adapted from
. . . Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword. And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. David . . . bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together. Jonathan said to David, “We have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me. . . ." [And at Jonathan's death, David lamented,] "Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women."
Therefore I bid you put away anxious thoughts about food and drink to keep you alive, and clothes to cover your body. Surely life is more that food, the body more than clothes. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store in barns, yet your heavenly father feeds them. You are worth more than the birds! Is there a person among you who by anxious thought can add a foot to his height? And why be anxious about clothes? consider how the lilies grow in the fields; they do not work, they do not spin, and yet, I tell you, Solomon in all his splendor was not attired as one of these. But if that is how God clothes the grass in the fields, which is there today, and tomorrow is thrown on the stove, will He not all the more clothe you? How little faith you have!...Set your mind on God's Kingdom and His justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well. So do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself. Each day has troubles enough of its own.
MUSLIM SOURCES (also see Gibran)
from the Qur'an
O believers, be in awe of God, and believe in His
Messenger, and He will give you a twofold portion of His mercy, and He
will appoint for you a light whereby you shall walk, and forgive you; God
is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate; that the People of the Book may know
that they have no power over anything of God's bounty, and that bounty
is in the hand of God; He gives it unto
49:11-13 O mankind, We have created you from a male and female and set you up as nations and tribes, so you may cooperate with one another. The noblest among you before God is the one of you who best performs his duty.
6:160 Anyone who comes with a fine deed will have ten more like it, while anyone who comes with an evil deed will only be rewarded with its like; they will not be treated unjustly.
29:46 Do not argue with the people of the Book (Christians and Jews) unless it is in the politest manner, except for those of them who do wrong. SAY: "We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God is (the Same) One, and we are committed to (observe) peace before Him.
3:64 SAY: "People of the Book, (let us) rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you, that we shall worship only God (Alone) and associate nothing else with Him, nor will any of us take on others as lords instead of God."
from the Gayan of Hazrat Inayat Khan
from J Rumi
10a. adapted from
. . . Together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Distinct and personal, not one submerged in the other, yet together you shall be forevermore.
10b. adapted from
When love beckons you, follow him,
10c. adapted from
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
11. AMERICAN INDIAN SOURCES
Now you will feel no rain
Now you will feel no cold
Now there is no more loneliness
Now you are two persons
Go now to [Here at] your dwelling
And may your days be good,
from a Navajo Wedding Ceremony
Now you have lit a fire and that fire should not
go out. The two of you now have a fire that represents love, understanding
and a philosophy of life. It will give you heat, food, warmth and happiness.
The new fire represents a new beginning - a new life and a new family.
The fire should keep burning; you should stay together. You have lit the
fire for life, until old age separates you.
Eskimo Love Song
You are my husband, you are my wife
& Buddhist sources
A Wife loves her husband not for his own sake, dear
one, but because the Divine Beloved lives in him. A Husband loves his wife
not for her own sake, dear one, but because the Divine Beloved lives in
her. Children are loved not for their own sake, dear one, but because the
Divine Beloved lives in them. . . .
19 "Do not deceive, do not despise each other anywhere. Do not be angry nor bear secret resentments; for as a mother will risk her life and watches over her child, so boundless be your love to all, so tender, kind and mild.
20 Cherish good will right and left, early and late, and without hindrance, without stint, be free of hate and envy, while standing and walking and sitting down, what ever you have in mind, the rule of life that is always best is to be loving-kind.
21 Gifts are great, founding temples is meritorious, meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart,comprehension of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is lovingkindness.
22 As the light of the moon is 16 times stronger than the light of all the stars, so lovingkindness is 16 times more efficacious in liberating the heart than all other religious accomplishments taken together." (Paul Carus, "The Mahavagga")
13. CHINESE SOURCE
When two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
14. SHAKESPEARE & SIDNEY
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
If this be error, and upon me
Doubt thou the stars are fire;
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
15. VERN BARNET and ROBERT FROST
PASSAGE, Vern Barnet
I’ve come to this island where I don’t care
We reach each other through the deep, through arm
WINDING WICK, Vern Barnet
I will not possess you, or try, for I
The candle cannot possess the burning,
THE MASTER SPEED, Robert Frost
No speed of wind or water rushing by
16. MORE POETRY
Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth
HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
Hope is the thing with feathers
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
I've heard it in the chilliest land,
SONNETS FROM PORTUGUESE 43
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
COME TRAVEL WITH ME
Listen! I will be honest with you.
I love you,
I love you,
I love you
I love you because you
I love you
You have done it
17. From Beginning to End
You have known each other from the first glance
of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided
to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have
been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations
that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks—all
those sentences that began with "When we're married" and continued with
"I will and you will and we will"—those late night talks that included
"someday" and "somehow" and "maybe"—and all those promises that are unspoken
matters of the heart.
18. From the book
I like you And I know why
I like you because
When I say something funny You laugh
You really like me You really like me
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And I like you because When I am feeling sad
If you find two four-leaf clovers
If I break my arm and If you break your
I like you because I don't know why
On the Fourth of July I like you because
That's how it would happen every time
19. Louis de Bernieres
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. that is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
20. ADDITIONAL PROSE SELECTIONS
Thomas a Kempis
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good. Love alone lightens every burden, and makes the rough places smooth. It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders all bitterness sweet and acceptable. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God.
Love flies, runs and leaps for joy. It is free and
unrestrained. Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil, attempts things beyond
its strenght; love sees nothing as impossible, for it feels able to achieve
all things. Love therefore does great things; it is strange and effective;
while those who lack love faint and fail.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance
and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold
on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate
but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch
heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check
the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here
for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest
touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back --
it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to
the same rhythm, creating a patten together, and being invisibly nourished
Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
When you love someone,
you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment
to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And
yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in
the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow
of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return.
We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity
possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity -- in freedom,
in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but
partners in the same pattern.
To know one another cannot mean to know everything
about each other; it means to feel mutual affection and confidence, and
to try to believe in one another. We must not try to force our way into
the personality of another. No one has a right to say to another: "Because
we belong to each other as we do, I have a right to know all your thoughts."
All demands of this sort are foolish and unwholesome. In this matter giving
is the only valuable process; it is only giving that stimulates. Impart
as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road
with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from