Some good marriage and relationship metaphors are:
- A marriage is a good red wine. It gets better with age.
- A strong marriage is the cornerstone of a family.
- This relationship is crumbling.
- This relationship is my anchor.
- A marriage is a garden and you are the gardener.
Read below for all 24 of the metaphors and similes I could come up with, along with an explanation of each.
1. A marriage is a good red wine. It gets better with age
This metaphor says that marriage is wine in order to make a point. The point here is: like red wine, marriage gets better over time.
This positive marriage metaphor highlights that in successful marriages, the two people settle into the relationship and become happier and happier as time passes because they’re so content and fulfilled by one another.
2. My wife is my rock
Rocks are strong and sturdy things. So, to say someone is your rock is to say that they are also sturdy.
This means that they’re the person you can rely on all the time. They will always be there for you and love you no matter what.
You can find many more rock metaphors here.
3. A strong marriage is the cornerstone of a family
This metaphor builds on the above one about rocks.
A cornerstone is a stone that is placed in the bottom corner of a building as you’re constructing it.
They’re usually the strongest of all the stones, rocks, or bricks in a building because they take most of the weight.
So, figuratively, we think of a ‘cornerstone’ as anything that is the strength that holds things together.
To return to our metaphor, we’re saying that a marriage (the relationship between the parents) is the cornerstone of the family. In other words, you need two parents with a very good relationship in order to raise children.
4. My wife is a ball and chain
Many years ago, convicts in prison farms would have a heavy metal ball tied to their ankle by a chain. It would mean that the convicts couldn’t run away. They could move slowly by picking up the big ball and walking, but they could never run.
It was a way of tying people down.
So, to say your wife is a ‘ball of chain’ is to say she’s also something that ties you down. She keeps you in one place and doesn’t let you go out and party with your friends.
This is, obviously, not the nicest thing to say about someone you love!
Read Also: Chain Symbolism
5. This marriage is crumbling
This is a metaphor you would use to refer to a marriage that has failed (or is in the process of failing).
We call this an implied metaphor because the thing in the analogy isn’t actually mentioned.
We’d assume the analogy is to a cookie, or a sandcastle, or something that literally crumbles.
The analogy being created here is that a marriage – which should be strong and hard to break – is falling apart (crumbling like a cookie!). So, we could expect these people to get a divorce sometime soon.
6. A marriage is a rollercoaster
The popular rollercoaster metaphor can be used to refer to anything that has ‘ups and downs’ (literally: good times and bad times).
If you’re on a roller coaster, you are thrilled one minute as the carriage throws you around a bend, and you’re scared to death the next minute as you’re tipped upside down.
It goes up and down – which is a metaphor for really good times and really bad.
And anyone who’s ever been in a marriage will be able to see the analogy here. We might go through months where we’re unhappy and months where we’re madly in love. It helps us to know that marriages have ups and downs.
7. She’s wearing the pants/trousers
One of the most famous relationship metaphors of all, this one uses gender norms to create an image in someone’s mind.
First, you need to know that traditionally it was men who made all the decisions and were the person in power in relationships (and I really do mean traditionally – things have changed!). But, we need to know that for how this metaphor works.
We also need to know that trousers (also called pants, depending on what country you’re from) are usually worn by men.
With this knowledge, we can unpick the metaphor some more.
If a woman is ‘wearing the trousers’ (figuratively, not literally), then we have an image in our mind of her taking the man’s role in the relationship.
In other words, this is a relationship where the woman is the powerful person and the man is being bossed around.
8. A relationship is a garden and you are the gardener
The traditional gardening metaphor can fit any relationship.
The idea is that if you left a garden to grow on its own, it would get tangled and unkempt. The flowers may die while the weeks flourish.
You need to water the plants and trim the weeds.
Similarly, in a relationship, you need to do work. You need to provide love and work on problems in order for your relationship to flourish. So, you’re like a gardener for a relationship: you are the person who has to ‘tend to it’ to ensure it stays beautiful!
In my mind, I think of this as a friendship metaphor. You need to actively keep the friendship maintained in order to keep it going.
9. I took him under my wing
No, this doesn’t mean you’re a bird with a wing. It’s simply saying you are like a bird with a wing.
The idea behind it is that you are metaphorically shielding someone under your arm and taking care of them.
So, to say you took someone under your wing is to say that you are taking care of them and showing them the best wat to do things.
This metaphor could work for any relationship, but it’s very common in a teacher-student relationship or a big brother with a little brother.
This metaphor is also an idiom.
10. This relationship is my compass
A compass shows you where to go. If you were out in a boat in the open ocean, you sure would hope you have a compass so you know which direction to go.
The metaphor says your relationship is your compass.
This means that you would be metaphorically lost without the relationship. In other words, you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself. You would be wandering around feeling like you don’t know which direction to take your life.
Usually, you would use this metaphor for a family relationship where you do everything with your family in mind.
11. This relationship is my anchor
Another nautical metaphor, this one compares your relationship to an anchor on a ship.
An anchor holds a ship in place. Without it, the ship will drift away in bad weather. So, to say that a relationship (or even a person) is an anchor is to say that this person is the person who holds you steady during difficult times.
We’ll often use this metaphor to also refer to people who you rely upon in social situations. A person who is your anchor is the person who you look out for in a crowd. If they’re there, you know you will be okay. Just like how an anchor is attached to a boat by a chain, you feel like there’s an invisible chain holding the two of you together.
12. There are cracks in our relationship
Something that has cracks in it appears unstable. If you have a window with a crack in it, there’s a good chance it could break under just a little bit of pressure.
So, if a relationship has cracks in it, it means that the relationship is not doing too well. It’s likely to end up breaking unless you ‘fix’ the cracks by working on improving the relationship.
13. Our relationship is magic
If you say your relationship is magic, you’re saying that it’s absolutely amazing. It’s so amazing that it’s unbelievably – just like magic.
So, what people really mean here is that their relationship is like magic. It’s no actually magic because … well, sorry kids, magic doesn’t exist. But because your relationship is so great, you wake up every day feeling like you’re living in a magical place.
14. He’s a teddy bear
When you call someone a teddy bear, you’re saying they’re soft and cuddly like a teddy bear!
This is usually a thing you can say about someone who is kind and would do no harm to you. But, it’s also often used when referring to a larger man who you enjoy cuddling because he’s big and soft.
15. They’re a Sweet Old Couple
To say someone is ‘sweet’ is to compare them to a candy (or, something else that tastes sweet!). Here, we’re not saying they are like a candy. They’re just implying they are candy because they’re sweet.
The phrase ‘sweet’ is so regularly used that you might not realize you’re using a metaphor. We call a metaphor like this a conventional metaphor.
16. This Relationship is in a Rough Patch
This analogy is one that I think comes from golf. But from my research, it appears no one truly knows.
A ‘rough patch’ in golf is usually a patch of grass that’s thicker than the fairway. If you accidentally hit a golf ball into a rough patch, it’s hard to get the ball out. So, you’re “stuck in” the rough patch.
To refer to the relationship metaphor, to say that a relationship is in a rough patch is to say you have a few problems in the relationship. Maybe you aren’t getting along or you’re having lots of arguments.
The idea is that, like in golf, it’s hard to get out of the rough patch to get back to the fairway, where the ball is easier to hit (or, the relationship is more fun and easier).
17. This relationship is a safety blanket
Children’s safety blankets are blankets that a child becomes attached to. Parents give children these blankets and the kids take them everywhere. They will cry if they don’t have that blanket they can cuddle (and even hide under).
So, to call a relationship a safety blanket is to say that you feel safe and happy and comfortable with that other person. But when you’re apart you feel unsafe, scared, and uncomfortable. You need to get back to that person so you feel happy again.
18. This relationship is a toxic sludge!
If you have something toxic (a toxin) in your body, you are probably sick. You may even by dying. For example, if you drink weed killer, chances are you’ll get sick!
So, to call a relationship a toxic sludge is to say that the relationship is causing you harm. It’s making you feel sick. There’s a ‘toxin’ in the relationship that’s killing it, and you need to get out of the relationship in order to feel better again.
19. You are my Home
When we think about a home, we think about a building in which you live. It’s the place where you feel most comfortable.
So when we call someone our home, we’re saying we feel most comfortable when we’re around them – just like we’re in our own house.
In fact, there’s a very famous song by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros that use this metaphor. The lyrics go:
Ah, home, let me go home
Home is wherever I’m with you
Marriage and Relationship Similes
20. A marriage is like a tree
When a plant starts out its life, it’s small and fragile. It grows quickly, but it remains easy to cut down for a long time.
But when the tree gets old, it has a thick trunk that can withstand almost anything. It would be incredibly hard to cut down. Despite all its scars and roughly grown branches, it’s a sturdy structure that you can rely on.
You can see the analogy for marriages here.
Your relationship might start out as a ‘seed’, and in the early days the relationship isn’t all that strong. But the more time that passes, the more the relationship grows into something enormous and magnificent.
Read more: Tree Metaphors
21. A relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.
Amazingly, it appears some sharks in fact do have to keep swimming in order to live. This is because they don’t breathe like us. In order to get oxygen into their body, they have to swim. Swimming is like breathing for them – they get oxygen from the water that flows through their gills.
But, let’s get back to the simile.
Here, we’re saying a relationship needs to ‘keep moving forward’. In other words, you need to keep learning new things about each other, doing things together, and building a life together.
If you stop working to keep your relationship strong, you will find it gets weaker and may ‘fall apart’.
22. We get along like cats and dogs
Cats and dogs often (but not always) really dislike each other.
So, to say that you get along like cats and dogs, you’re saying that you don’t get along very well! You might argue a lot (a bit like how cats and dogs fight).
I think about a sibling relationship here. If you have children who keep on fighting, you might point them out to your spouse and say: “our kids get on like cats and dogs”.
Read more about dog metaphors.
23. We get along like a house on fire
This is a bizarre simile. But, it’s incredibly common.
It means that you get along really well. You’re great friends.
You would think it would be a bad thing because a burning house is a terrible thing! But, it actually means something good!
We’re talking about how a house burns quickly and vigorously.
So, if two people get along like a house on fire, they got along quickly (they became friends fast) and also really like each other.
24. A marriage is like cooking without a recipe
Cooking without a recipe requires a lot of skill. You need to choose your ingredients carefully and even experiment a little.
But you can choose your own spices and flavors to create your own unique recipe.
A marriage is similar.
There’s no recipe book for a perfect marriage. You have to make it up as you go.
And you need to negotiate with your partner and come to agreements on how to live your life together in a unique way that’s different to everyone else’s. You can add your own ‘spices’ to the relationship however you like.
Read more about cooking metaphors.
Marriages and relationships are complicated things. We all have our own unique relationships with the people in our lives:
- Sometimes they’re good relationships.
- Sometimes they’re bad.
- And sometimes they’re just very, very complicated.
A relationship metaphor can be incredibly helpful for explaining how you feel about people. Whether it’s a marriage metaphor, or one about family or friends, I do hope this list of metaphors and similes has helped!
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.