Don’t Marry Your Sister
by Harley Voogd
If a young single man comes to me asking for advice on marriage…
Me: Any prospects?
Him: There are two girls. The first I’ve known for most of my life. She and I grew up together and get along great. We laugh together, we have the same interests, and we are always comfortable around each other.
Me: Is she pretty?
Him: Yeah… She is.
Me: And the other?
Him: The other I haven’t known as long, a few months. The times we spend together are great, but sometimes awkward, and that worries me.
Me: But you’re interested in her. Why?
Him: Because I think this girl is so smokin’ beautiful, and every time I see her I just want to be around her. I love the sound of her voice, her smile, her hair… everything! I just want her.
Me: But she’s a good person? She’s not selfish, or crazy?
Him: No! She’s great. That’s another thing I love about her — she’s totally a sweetheart. But I still worry because I don’t know if I’ll be as compatible with her as the other girl.
Me: Don’t worry about that. Go for the “smokin’ beautiful” girl.
“Today the incest problem is not, as we all know, a physical problem inside the family. No one really thinks of marrying his sister, but by marrying the girl with whom we went to school from our eighth to thirteenth year, we may already be making a mistake, because we have first called her as a fellow child and as a classmate and as a playmate, and such prior relationship is not the true origin of marriage…
In marriage, the sequence is: first you see the girl as somebody whom you desire, and then you add the horizon of her becoming a sister, and the mother of your children and the daughter of your parents. If we pervert this sequence, we stand things on their head, because passion is the founding element, and objectivity or realism, as we like to call it, or factualism, is always that which comes later…
(I)f we have already lived with (a girl) in (a brother/sister type of) affection, but without passion, (she) cannot become the object of passion…
If you have never spoken to the girl before, and you speak to her for the first time, there is the great experience of giving someone for the first time her name so totally that there is nothing you have to obliterate; it is really new to you. Later, she can become old and familiar to you, but at that great hour, she is somebody entering your horizon for the first time. This is called ‘introduction’ and is a mighty event.
Love needs a name given to this sweetheart or bride for the first time. Incest is every situation in which somebody has first been called by a dispassionate name like sister and is then approached with the new name of passionate love. Love must give a person a name as though we saw them for the first time; and since between mothers and sisters, brothers and fathers, there exists already one name of love, the second name would be impaired. Whenever we have already given a name of no-passion, like sister, we can never approach the situation in the way it should be approached.”
(Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen, I Am an Impure Thinker: Tribalism, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR., 2013 [originally published by Argo Books, 2001], pg. 132-133)
I highly recommend this book: I Am an Impure Thinker by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.