Quotes about marriage from the OUTLANDER books

Jamie and Claire wedding

Happy Valentine's Day! Diana Gabaldon has said that one of the overall themes she wanted to explore in the OUTLANDER books is the story of a long-term marriage. So I decided to put together a new quote collection focusing on various aspects of marriage in the books. Hope you enjoy it!

* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, including GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, you may find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

1) We begin with the blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding:

“It’s a bit pagan, but it’s customary hereabouts to have a blood vow, along with the regular marriage service. Some priests won’t have it, but I don’t suppose this one was likely to object to anything. He looked almost as scared as I felt,” he said, smiling.

“A blood vow? What do the words mean?”

Jamie took my right hand and gently tucked in the last end of the makeshift bandage. “It rhymes, more or less, when ye say it in English. It says:

‘Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.’
 ”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Bree and Roger's handfasting. I had never heard of the custom before I read DRUMS.

He took her hand in his, palm to palm.

“D’ye know what handfasting is?”

“Not exactly. Sort of a temporary marriage?”

“A bit. In the Isles and the remoter parts of the Highlands, where folk were a long way from the nearest minister, a man and a woman now would be handfast; vowed to each other for a year and a day. At the end of it, they find a minister and wed more permanently—or they go their own ways.”

Her hand tightened in his.

“I don’t want anything temporary.”

“Neither do I. But I don’t think we’ll find a minister easily. There are no churches here yet; the nearest minister is likely in New Bern.” He lifted their linked hands. “I did say I wanted it all, and if ye did not care enough to wed me…”

Her hand tightened, hard.

“I do.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Virgin Sacrifice". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Fergus and Marsali's wedding. As hilarious as the actual ceremony is, the fact that Marsali got what she wanted in the end always takes my breath away:

So she had done it. One fifteen-year-old girl, with nothing but stubbornness as a weapon. “I want him,” she had said. And kept saying it, through her mother’s objections and Jamie’s arguments, through Fergus’s scruples and her own fears, through three thousand miles of homesickness, hardship, ocean storm, and shipwreck.

She raised her face, shining, and found her mirror in Fergus’s eyes. I saw them look at each other, and felt the tears prickle behind my lids.

“I want him.” I had not said that to Jamie at our marriage; I had not wanted him, then. But I had said it since, three times; in two moments of choice at Craigh na Dun, and once again at Lallybroch.

“I want him.” I wanted him still, and nothing whatever could stand between us.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 52, "A Wedding Takes Place". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) I like the fact that Jamie remembers their anniversary. And what a thoughtful gift!

“Why did you want to buy me jewelry?”

[....]

The box was heavy; a gracious, substantial, satisfying weight across my legs, its wood a delight under my hands. He turned his head to look full at me, then, his hair fire-struck with the setting sun, face dark in silhouette.

“Twenty-four years ago today, I married ye, Sassenach,” he said softly. “I hope ye willna have cause yet to regret it.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Man of Worth". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) Claire's advice on marriage, from her farewell letter to Bree:

Choose a man like your father, I wrote. Either of them. I shook my head over that--could there be two men more different?--but left it, thinking of Roger Wakefield. Once you’ve chosen a man, don’t try to change him, I wrote, with more confidence. It can’t be done. More important--don’t let him try to change you. He can’t do it either, but men always try.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) I think it's interesting that Roger watches Jamie and Claire covertly, in order to learn how married couples behave toward one another:

It was not prurience, nor even simple curiosity, and yet he often found himself watching them. He saw them from the cabin window, walking together in the evening, Jamie’s head bent toward her, hands clasped behind his back. Claire’s hands moved when she talked, rising long and white in the air, as though she would catch the future between them and give it shape, would hand Jamie her thoughts as she spoke them, smooth and polished objects, bits of sculptured air.

Once aware of what he was doing, Roger watched them purposefully, and brushed aside any feelings of shame at such intrusion, minor as it was. He had a compelling reason for his curiosity; there was something he needed to know, badly enough to excuse any lack of manners.

How was it done, this business of marriage?

He had been brought up in a bachelor’s house. Given all he needed as a boy in terms of affection by his great-uncle and the Reverend’s elderly housekeeper, he found himself lacking something as an adult, ignorant of the threads of touch and word that bound a married couple. Instinct would do, for a start.

But if love like that could be learned…

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 90, "Danger in the Grass". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

7) I love the way Diana describes how long-married couples communicate without saying a word:

Jamie saw the direction of my glance and put his hand over mine, squeezing it in a silent adjuration of discretion. I lowered my brows at him; surely he didn’t think I would give anyone away by inadvertence? He gave me a faint smile and one of those annoying marital looks that said, more plainly than words, You know how ye are, Sassenach. Anyone who sees your face kens just what ye think.

I sidled in a little closer, and kicked him discreetly in the ankle. I might have a glass face, but it certainly wouldn’t arouse comment in a crowd like this! He didn’t wince, but the smile spread a little wider. He slid one arm inside my cloak, and drew me closer, his hand on my back.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "Happy the Bride the Sun Shines On". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

8) Every marriage has its share of arguments, and of course Jamie and Claire have had some epic fights over the years! But they always come back to one another afterward:

“Have we got that out of our system, do you think?” I said drowsily.

“Our?” His right hand twitched, but he didn’t pull it away.

“Our.”

He sighed deeply and turned his head toward me, opening his eyes.

“We have.” He smiled a little and closed his eyes again, his chest rising and falling under my hand. I could feel his nipple through his shirt, small and still hard against my palm.

“Did I break the skin?”

“Ye do that every time ye touch me, Sassenach. I’m no bleeding, though.”

We lay in silence for some time, and the sounds of crickets and the rustle of leaves flowed over us like water. He spoke, quietly, and I turned my head, thinking I hadn’t heard him aright, but I had. I just didn’t know what language he was speaking.

“That isn’t GĂ idhlig, is it?” I asked dubiously, and he shook his head slowly, eyes still closed.

Gaeilge,” he said. “Irish. I heard it from Stephen O’Farrell, during the Rising. It just came back to me now.

“My body is out from my control,” he said softly. “She was the half of my body--the very half of my soul.”

(From GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37, "Maneuvers Beginning With the Letter V". Copyright© 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

9) Lizzie and the Beardsley twins. Their notion of marriage is certainly unconventional (to put it mildly!), but there's no doubt that they love one another very deeply.

“Which one will you choose?” I asked.

[Lizzie] gave me a sudden, startled look, the blood draining from her cheeks.

“You can’t have them both, you know,” I said gently. “It doesn’t work that way.”

“Why?” she said, trying for boldness--but her voice trembled. “It’s no harming anyone. And it’s no one’s business but ours.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 73, "Double-Dealing". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

10) The words in this quote are Ian the Elder's, but I think Jamie and Roger would agree completely with the sentiment.

“A man needs a wife, and a good one is the greatest gift God has for a man.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 77, "Memorarae". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

11) And finally, here's one of my all-time favorite quotes in the whole series. I find the idea of a love so powerful that it can outlast even death itself extraordinarily moving.

“But do ye not see how verra small a thing is the notion of death, between us two, Claire?” he whispered.

My hands curled into fists against his chest. No, I didn’t think it a small thing at all.

“All the time after ye left me, after Culloden--I was dead then, was I not?”

[....]

“I was dead, my Sassenach--and yet all that time, I loved you.”

I closed my eyes, feeling the tickle of the grass on my lips, light as the touch of sun and air.

“I loved you, too,” I whispered. “I always will.”

The grass fell away. Eyes still closed, I felt him lean toward me, and his mouth on mine, warm as sun, light as air.

“So long as my body lives, and yours--we are one flesh,” he whispered. His fingers touched me, hair and chin and neck and breast, and I breathed his breath and felt him solid under my hand. Then I lay with my head on his shoulder, the strength of him supporting me, the words deep and soft in his chest.

“And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I hope you've enjoyed this collection. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

7 comments

Sharon Bridge Dover said...

Karen, I always look forward to your posts on these special days.

I have to agree with what you indicate is one of your favorite quotes, when Jamie tells Claire that death will not port them. I’ve had a rough few days coming up to Valentines, missing my husband, who has been dead for 15 years. Seeing this once again just boosted my spirits.

I thank you.

Enjoy your day.

Leah V said...

Thank you, Karen! I’ve been looking forward to this since collection since we “chatted” on Twitter. I’m new to your blog, and the Outlander fandom and you do an amazing job capturing so many things that make these books so special. This is a beautiful compilation, with such respect for Diana’s work. Happy Valentine’s Day

Jodie said...

A beautiful collection! Brought back to mind all of the scenes I love so much and make Outlander truly my favorite series and books of all time!

Martha said...

Great selection. Thanks, Karen!

Unknown said...

Beautiful to read. And my remembered favorite from The Fiery Cross, something like "If my last words are not I love you, its because I didn't have the time."

Aileen said...

Thank you, thank you Karen. In the end it is LOVE that matters and these are potent and special reminders of Diana's gift of understanding and sharing this through her magical writing.

chill1019 said...

When I read your posts, I want to start reading all over again! Thanks, Karen!

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