Labor Friendly Passages About Marriage
December 12, 2016 7:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm putting together a labor friendly (as in unions and worker's rights) civil wedding ceremony. I'm trying to find a short passage or a poem that plays up the labor themes inherent in marriage. (building something together, working as one, etc). Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!
posted by helloimjohnnycash to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is one we used that doesn't feel too far off. from Dinah Maria Craik (often erroneously credited to George Eliot):
"Oh, the comfort -- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."
posted by vunder at 7:17 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]

Union Maid!

"You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

I can't find the exact quote but James Larkin (Irish Trade Unionist) had one about loaf on the table and flower in the vase. Which I think could be translated to the work required in marriage to build the strong base (the bread) and the sweet love that is the flower.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:41 PM on December 12, 2016

This is not nearly so on point, but what I thought of right away was Alan Dugan's poem, "I and Thou," a MeFi favorite:

Oh I spat rage’s nails
into the frame-up of my work:
it held. It settled plumb,
level, solid, square and true
for that great moment. Then
it screamed and went on through,
skewing as wrong the other way.
God damned it. This is hell,
but I planned it. I sawed it,
I nailed it, and I
will live in it until it kills me.
I can nail my left palm
to the left-hand crosspiece but
I can’t do everything myself.
I need a hand to nail the right,
a help, a love, a you, a wife.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Yeah, it's from the Bible, but it's a pretty good quote, IMO*

*Perversely, I (Atheist) used it as my vow in our secular wedding.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:36 PM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but I have a part that I sometimes use for rings in a ceremony talking about how they are actually the product of work and not just some infinite thing that goes on forever. It could easily be edited to be even more labor-friendly.
Usually this is where we talk about rings not having a beginning or an end. But in true internet person nitpicker fashion I’ll tell you that they do have a beginning. They were made from rocks which were turned into metals which were polished into bands which were chosen and sized and delivered.

Something lovely and meaningful, made from raw materials. Love is like that. It’s hot, dirty business. It comes from unassuming origins created by imperfect beings. It’s the process, the work, the caring, the creativity and the determination which built it, which made it real.
posted by jessamyn at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've always liked this quote from Oddysseus:

"No finer, greater gift in the world than that…
when man and woman keep their home; two minds,
two hearts that work as one. Despair to their enemies,
a joy to all their friends. Their own best claim to glory.”
posted by Ausamor at 9:40 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

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