love, marriage, wedding

{On Love}

I know everyone and their mother reads A Cup of Jo, but this letter she posted today moved me so deeply that I just had to post it myself. The letter was written by well-known author John Steinbeck to his son after he received a letter from him in which he confessed he had fallen hopelessly in love with a girl named Susan. Here was his response (I’ve highlighted some of my most favorite lines):

New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.


Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to include parts of this letter in a wedding ceremony? I just love it.

Happy, happy Friday, everyone!

16 thoughts on “{On Love}”

  1. I've always disliked Steinbeck until now. What beautiful words!

    The phrase “an outpouring of everything good in you” brought to mind a quote from Diotima in Plato's Symposium:
    “Love then, is collectively the desire in men that good should be for ever present to them.”

    Thank you for sharing this!

  2. i read this yesterday and was touched as well. an impressive description of something that's so hard to put into words!

  3. We had this at our wedding and I love it:

    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:

    If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him 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

    I had a dream before we got engaged about a blue thread of 3 separate strands forming into one thread, with diamonds on it, and stopped with a jolt the following day when I remembered these verses.

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