Well, throughout the book, a number of interesting things come up:
1. For companionship: Gilbert quotes a friend’s grandfather, ‘Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone’.
2. To feel chosen: Gilbert cites one of her friends who saw her upcoming wedding as an event that will “unequivocally prove to everyone, especially to myself, that I am precious enough to have been selected by somebody forever.”
3. Intimacy: Gilbert quotes the poet Jack Gilnert who wrote that marriage is what happens “between the memorable”. She adds,
Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to someone – so utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity like air.
An on intimacy, she writes:
That’s what a long marriage can do: It causes us to inherit and trade each other’s stories. This, in part, is how we become annexes of each other, trellises on which each other’s biography can grow.
…This is intimacy: the trading of stories in the dark.
For me, intimacy is the crux of marriage. This is what we hope for when we get into a marriage in modern times, though it was probably a result of marriage in older times as well. Now, we are actively hoping for this, before it happened as a side benefit.
4. To feel complete: She cites Airstophanes story of the human being as a soul that has been riven in half trying to find it’s twin: “This is the singular fantasy of human intimacy: that one plus one will somehow, someday equal one.”
And she warns against this. Her realization of the fallacy of this kind of thinking is why she believes she has a better shot at her second marriage:
I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator of my Source of All Life…I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet Felipe for who he was. In each other’s eyes, we may very well have seemed beautiful and perfect and heroic beyond measure but I never lost sight of our actual realities…To this day, I refuse to burden Felipe with the tremendous responsibility of somehow completing me. By this point in my life, I have figured out that he cannot complete me, even if he wanted to. I’ve faced enough of my own incompletions to recognize that they belong solely to me. Having learned this essential truth, I can actually tell now where I end and where somebody else begins…One plus onem in other words, is sometimes supposed to equal two.