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The Seven Marriage Types

By Sally Joyce

No competent astrologer would make a judgment about two people marrying based on Sun-Signs alone. There is the Moon to consider, along with Venus, Mars, and any and all ties between the planets and with the Ascendant in both charts. Very often, in fact, the Sun-Sign has little to do with initial attraction. I’ve found, however, that the Sun may be extremely important in a marriage, any partnership for that matter, particularly in relation to longevity and the type or nature of the union. First of all, it must be stressed that harmonious Sun-Signs do not guarantee a happy or long-lived marriage; nor do stressful aspects rule out a successful union. Everything in both charts must be weighed to see the full picture. As elsewhere, exceptions only prove the rule. What is fascinating is that there appear to be “types” of marriages along Sun-Sign lines. For example, sextile marriages seem to differ in character from square or trine marriages. I am indebted to another astrologer, Mark Owens, for the original idea. It was his hypothesis that sextile marriages tend to be most enduring and satisfying after all, particularly where the male was born in the earlier sign (e.g., Taurus male and Cancer female).

This got me thinking about other Sun-aspect marriages and looking at the evidence of actual marriages. Sure enough, patterns and types began to emerge. First of all, it is quite obvious that people do not marry along Sun-Sign lines alone. But the influences of the natal Sun on an individual are the most enduring, deep, and crucial. The Sun determines goals, basic direction in life, one’s individuality, so it deeply affects partnerships.

It also seems that, with women strengthening their individuality, carving out their own careers, and in general living out their Sun-Sign more through themselves than their husbands, the importance of the Sun in marriage is growing. Both partners want more than to stay in tune emotionally; each seeks to be fully himself or herself.

Now to some generalizations. It appears that indeed there are more trine, sextile, and semisextile marriages than square or opposition marriages. Conjunction and quincunx marriages seem to fall in the middle numerically. Thus, harmonious Sun-Sign combinations seem to outnumber stressful ones. Of the stressful Sun-Sign combinations, most occur among fixed signs, least among mutable signs. None of this is surprising; scientific statistical studies would, I think, substantiate these generalizations. Another discovery, more surprising, is that there are numerous semisextile and quincunx marriages; and they tend to be among the most fascinating and satisfying unions. It also appears that men and women tend to play the most conventional and traditional husband and wife roles in conjunction and trine marriages. This is also true for sextile marriages, but here women tend to be stronger and more equal in the partnership. 

Sextile Marriages: Aries-Gemini, Taurus-Cancer, Gemini-Leo, Cancer-Virgo, Leo-Libra, Virgo-Scorpio, Libra-Sagittarius, Scorpio-Capricorn, Sagittarius-Aquarius, Capricorn-Pisces, Aquarius-Aries, Pisces-Taurus. The sextile is one of the strongest ties. Different qualities combine with different but compatible elements—fire and air, earth and water—and form a very stable and creative union. Divorce is not common, although these marriages are not necessarily perfect. They tend, however, to stay together despite problems. Sextile marriages seem to allow both partners to develop individually without destroying the union. The woman is usually equal in this marriage; if she is behind the scenes, she may be playing a stronger role in the marriage than it appears on the surface. There is a basic understanding, often never articulated, between the partners that perhaps comes from the mental quality of the sextile. They blend together easily and seem to know intuitively the needs and desires of the other. There is also a sense of completion that they bring to each other that is very satisfying and almost taken for granted. This may enable them to put up with a lot of other differences and problems in the marriage. Among the most satisfying and ideal sextile marriages are those among earth-sign men and water-sign women. Robert (Taurus) and Elizabeth Barrett (Pisces) Browning are typical of the depth possible in such unions. It was she who penned the beautiful poem that begins, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways...” Air- and fire-sign sextile marriages often seem less satisfying, but there is a strong tie. John (Gemini) and Jacqueline (Leo) Kennedy, as well as Abraham (Aquarius) and Mary Todd (Sagittarius) Lincoln, are examples. Neither of these marriages was made in heaven, as the saying goes, but the partners did complement each other. The women, though in the shadow of famous men, did not lose their identities. They shaped the marriage as much as their husbands did, for better or worse. Warren Beatty (Aries) and Annette Benning (Gemini) are an example of a fire-air sextile union. 

Trine Marriages: Aries-Leo, Leo-Sagittarius, Sagittarius-Aries, Taurus-Virgo, Virgo-Capricorn, Capricorn-Taurus, Gemini-Libra, Libra-Aquarius, Aquarius-Gemini, Cancer-Scorpio, Scorpio-Pisces, Pisces-Cancer. This would seem to be the ideal marriage combination, the partner corresponding to the solar fifth house. Being of the same element, these couples share certain responses and approaches to life in common. Apparently, this sameness does not create the same stable bond that the sextile does. Perhaps too much of the same creates less tolerance with the other’s faults, which are also often one’s own. The trine marriage is usually a looser arrangement than other types, even when strong. Trine marriages seem to be less self-contained than sextiles, seeking stimulation and excitement from outside. The trine is a somewhat passive configuration, and this perhaps accounts for the need to seek outside itself for completion. Yet, if a balance is achieved between partners alone and partners with others, this can be one of the richest and happiest of marriages. An example truly points up this type. Franklin (Aquarius) and Eleanor (Libra) Roosevelt had an enduring marriage, but they sought stimulation and completion outside their bond. They shared many ideals, goals, and interests, but each found the marriage limiting. Trine marriages often seem to be of the kind one falls into easily. I knew few trine marriages where there was a passionate suddenness to the union. They were in love, yes, but they were not carried away. They simply shared a great deal in common and moved naturally into the future together. Why this ideal combination is not more in evidence or always satisfying is a puzzle. It is difficult to find famous trine marriages, although that doesn’t mean there are few. Perhaps we simply don't know about them because the women were obscure. Still, it is intriguing. It appears marriage may thrive on difference, even on challenge and difficulty. An easy partnership may have less going for it in the long run. The ideal couple may have a harder time of it than others. When they run up against adversity, they are not used to it and the bond is under more strain. They are, in a way, not ready for their difficulties and may not acknowledge them until it is too late. With their surface similarity, they can easily misjudge the depth of their differences. A famous Hollywood trine couple is Tom Hanks (Cancer) and Rita Wilson (Scorpio). 

Square Marriages: Aries-Cancer, Cancer-Libra, Libra-Capricorn, Capricorn-Aries, Taurus-Leo, Leo-Scorpio, Scorpio-Aquarius, Aquarius-Taurus, Gemini-Virgo, Virgo-Sagittarius, Sagittarius-Pisces, Pisces-Gemini. One would expect square-aspect marriages to be disasters; that turns out not necessarily to be the case, particularly among the fixed signs. There are, however, relatively few of these unions, at least those that last. Trying to find well-known marriages of this type is even harder than finding trines. The square, as is no surprise, is not really conducive to marriage. The one exception appears to be the fixed signs, where many of the square-aspect marriages occur, particularly where Leo marries Taurus or Scorpio. For some reason, these are enduring combinations. The most likely candidates for divorce are the mutable-sign square marriages. Mutables are much better off being married to more stable fixed or cardinal people. Two mutables together part easily. Where there are enough planetary ties in two charts to attract a square-aspect couple to each other, there is a good likelihood then that the marriage will be a good one. Their differences are such that events and temperament will cause them to meet head-on and be forced to work things out. Some of these couples enjoy surprisingly good communication, and their conflicts and differences seem to forge a strong bond. The fact that many of these are fixed-sign combinations may be the reason for the strength. Fixed signs do not tend to divorce if it can be helped; they are stable people with a great deal of determination. If they decide to make a marriage, then make a marriage they will. 

Opposition Marriages: Aries-Libra, Taurus-Scorpio, Gemini-Sagittarius, Cancer-Capricorn, Leo-Aquarius, Virgo-Pisces. These are the marriages that prove the old adage that opposites do indeed attract each other. There is some truth in this because the opposite sign represents an individual’s solar seventh house of marriage and partnership. The partner, however, does represent opposite qualities, and that can make for a tempestuous relationship. Opposition marriages either finally strike a happy balance that maintains the bond or they constantly fight a running battle. These may be the very marriages that can use the kind of therapy that encourages couples to fight constructively with each other. Opposites need to let off steam, get mad at each other, air their differences if they are to maintain any sort of balance with each other. Their differences come out loud and clear. Compromise is of the essence if they are to remain partners. The fixed opposites are, of course, more likely to last; Gemini-Sagittarius, the least likely. It is interesting, however, to see the number of Gemini-Sagittarius marriages, when it is obviously in the nature of both signs to have multiple marriages. Fidelity isn’t their strong point. For example, Marilyn Monroe (Gemini) and Joe DiMaggio (Sagittarius) could not make a go of it. Her later marriage to Arthur Miller (Libra), while not perfect, was more fortuitous, although bearing some of the trine weaknesses. I have known Virgo-Pisces marriages that seemed to balance quite well—the one partner more dreamy and idealistic, the other very practical and down-to-earth. They learned to harmonize their different characteristics and built on their strengths. It is not an easy task, however. I have known few cardinal opposition marriages. There is perhaps too much independence and activity of spirit, too much combativeness, and—especially in Aries and Libra—too much self-will. They simply don’t seem to seek each other out. Fixed oppositions tend to make fairly good marriages, but often one partner ends up giving up a great deal of his or her individuality to the other. They work it out, but it is easy for one partner to lose more than the other. The opposition has some of the creative potential of the sextile, but not the ease of meshing or the intuitive complementarity. They are, however, complementary elements (fire and air or earth and water) and they are the same quality (cardinal, mutable, or fixed). So there is potential for a rich relationship if balance and give-and-take can be achieved. It’s like mixing the sextile and the square; whether creative coupling or stressful separation will result depends on other aspects in the charts. In any case, an opposition marriage seldom stagnates. They have a great deal to offer each other; the trick is to be able to accept what the other brings to the marriage.

Conjunction Marriages: Both partners of the same sign. These marriages are characterized by partners who have a great deal in common—too much really. Too much sameness in this case can lead to rather unexciting but enduring unions, particularly among water and earth signs. Without much variety and difference, these couples get into a marital rut and, while extremely faithful, do not always open themselves up to growth and change. In my experience, there are more water-conjunction marriages than any other—relatively few fire or air. Water has a sort of passive quality to it; and it is perhaps this acceptance and passivity that lead to the attraction and such enduring bonds, even if they are not always the happiest of marriages. These couples tend to be very self-contained and always act and think and feel as a couple. Again, one partner, frequently the woman if it is a water-sign conjunction, tends to dominate. Neither partner tends to make many friendships alone. Everything is done as a couple. What they cannot do together, they don’t do as a rule. You cannot think of one without the other. Perhaps water- and earth-sign conjunctions predominate because a conjunction marriage represents a security and sameness, a safety as it were, that earth and water tend to seek. Fire and air, on the other hand, seek excitement, novelty, new horizons, and would tend to be bored or hemmed in by the security or safety that marrying someone much like themselves represents. Besides, two fire or two air people of the same sign would be like a forest fire or a tornado—a bit too much of a good thing. The relative rarity of the conjunction marriage probably represents the truth that human beings seek completion as much as anything in a union. They are not looking for a mirror of themselves usually, which a conjunction marriage can mean. Those conjunction marriages that are rich, full partnerships probably are the result of other planetary aspects that add variety, difference, and challenge. Anyone in a conjunction marriage would be wise to be aware of the possibility of getting into a rut. If that’s not what he or she wants, then something needs to be done before it is too late. Partners with Sun-Signs in common can grow as much as anyone else if they work at it. The truth is that usually they are not compelled to do so, and it is easier to let life ride along smoothly. Women in conjunction marriages, particularly water or earth, tend to stay home, raise a family, and live out their Sun-Sign vicariously through their husband. That is perhaps one of the reasons they have for marrying someone very much like themselves. They do not seek to go out and do it on their own. They seek security very strongly. These men, conversely, seek wives who will not “rock the boat” and will go along with them on most issues. Given a couple with these motives, their chance for happiness can be great if they make their choices with full consciousness; in such a case, they will usually get just what they want out of life. But if they enter into a marriage for the sole purpose of achieving safety, security, and shelter from the world, they may come to feel stifled by the marriage. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are another same-sign pairing (Libra). 

Semisextile Marriages: Aries-Taurus, Taurus-Gemini, Gemini-Cancer, Cancer-Leo, Leo-Virgo, Virgo-Libra, Libra-Scorpio, Scorpio-Sagittarius, Sagittarius-Capricorn, Capricorn-Aquarius, Aquarius-Pisces, Pisces-Aries. The semisextile is only a weakly favorable aspect; yet many, many marriages fall into this category. The big question is why. For some reason, this is an enduring aspect, typical of many long-lived marriages. Because the signs are not strongly aspected to each other, each partner may be freer to develop his or her own life and individuality. Since the tie is not as compelling as others, there is a tendency to make a deliberate decision to be partners. Hence, they do not go into marriage lightly. These unions are seen very often among those who marry when they are older or more mature. The loose Sun-Sign tie is often strengthened in another way. These partners may have the closer planets, Mercury and Venus, even Mars, in common. For some reason, most people are very comfortable with others from their adjacent signs, their zodiacal neighbors, in a way. Some examples of semisextile marriages of the past are the Duke (Cancer) and Duchess (Gemini) of Windsor, Queen Elizabeth (Taurus) and Prince Philip (Gemini), Paul Newman (Aquarius) and Joanne Woodward (Pisces), and Napoleon (Leo) and Josephine (Cancer). Kevin Bacon (Cancer) and Kyra Sedgwick (Leo) are an example of a present-day semisextile couple. There are many more examples. The semisextile, while amazingly enduring, is not necessarily indicative of a happy marriage; but there is enough satisfaction to keep the partners together. Perhaps as much as, or more than, the sextile, these couples are equals, partners, friends. Their attraction may be a puzzle to those around them, but they seem very comfortable with each other. 

Quincunx Marriages: Aries-Virgo, Aries-Scorpio, Taurus-Libra, Taurus-Sagittarius, Gemini-Scorpio, Gemini-Capricorn, Cancer-Sagittarius, Cancer-Aquarius, Leo-Capricorn, Leo-Pisces, Virgo-Aquarius, Li-bra-Pisces. Like the semisextile, the quincunx is a weak aspect, but in this case it is a slightly stressful combination. Like the semisextile, there are a surprising number of marriages in this category—good, enduring marriages. The quincunx marriage appears to have a fated quality about it, a karmic overtone perhaps. This is the category of many unusual marriages, of couples who marry when they are older. In sum, these are seldom mainstream marriages. The quincunx as an aspect challenges individuals to creative adjustments. In marriage, this leads not only to unusual combinations, but also to opportunity for growth if the couple is open. These are usually strong marriages, whatever their nature. The partners are tuned into each other; and, though the aspect is somewhat stressful, a very real harmony and understanding develop. Look at Charles (Aquarius) and Anne (Cancer) Lindbergh, Princess Grace (Scorpio) and Prince Rainier (Gemini), even Aristotle (Capricorn) and Jacqueline (Leo) Onassis. These seemed to be marriages of a fated sort. Each gave in a very unique way to the other. Here is a marriage of two mature people, capable of living rich, individual lives. They seem to marry from strength, more than compensating for weakness. Their bond is strong, but they are often the kind of people who do not need each other in the usual sense. Rather, they sought out strength to meet their own—and a challenge.

Copyright © 2012 Sally Joyce


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