"Take my wife. Please!
— Henny Youngman
A species of Dom Com
based on the premise that monogamous marriage is rather like a long, slow, exquisite torture by a sadistic god from whose maleficent clutches escape is impossible. Husbands are child-like buffoons
who watch too much football, leave the toilet seat up, ogle hot women
, and forget anniversaries. Wives are frigid, nagging, hateful shrews
with zero interest in sex
destroy your home and what little peace of mind you have left, while waiting their turn to perpetuate the cycle. Obnoxious In-Laws
serve to add to the misery. The audience may be left wondering, "Why don't they just get a divorce, if they're so miserable?"
Married... with Children
was probably the first time this trope was seen on American television, but it's been a mainstay of British shows
since The Fifties
The name, for those who don't get it, is a reference to the line of the traditional wedding vows, "Lawful wedded wife."
Similar to No Accounting for Taste
, but you'll rarely (if ever
) see the Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
moments occasionally found in that trope. In the West, it's becoming a Discredited Trope
due to the de-stigmatization of divorce, and the liberalization of divorce laws. Still used by many a comedian, to the point of being an Undead Horse Trope
Contrast Happily Married
for the opposite and Happy Marriage Charade
for when this trope pretends to be Happily Married
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Anime & Manga
- Anak's parents from Tower of God. Her being wed to a commoner away from the court of King Zahard certainly was a bit of a culture shock for her, so they tended to argue almost everyday. Why did they stick together? Because Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other of course.
- Too often a source of jokes in stand-up comedy.
- A little boy runs into his parent's room crying that there's a monster under his bed. His father gives him these words of wisdom: "Enjoy it while you can, my son. When you grow up, the monster'll be in your bed!"
- The Lockhorns, though thankfully the eponymous couple apparently doesn't have kids.
- For Better Or For Worse since going into reprints/new-runs seems to spend a lot of time dwelling on how John is an insensitive dolt and the children have nothing better to do than make Elly's life harder. Perversely, the strip also implies that anyone who doesn't settle down and live the same kind of life is irresponsible, childish and a bad person.
- Andy Capp seems like this much of the time, although Andy and Flo definitely have their Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. (No kids here either.)
- Stanley and Harriet Parker of The Better Half started out like this, but a change of cartoonists in the '80s brought a much more lighthearted tone to their relationship (as well as a rather dramatic Art Evolution).
- The form reached its pinnacle of perfection in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
- The King Of Queens
- Mad About You became this in the later years.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- The husband is the frigid one, but Married... with Children fits otherwise.
- Home Improvement occasionally slipped into this.
- As did Family Matters.
- Same with Reba, although they spent more time dancing around it.
- Reba holds bitter feelings toward Brock and "other woman" Barbara Jean for the collapse of their marriage, despite constantly putting down Brock for other things and generally saying how the last few years of their marriage were miserable anyway before Barbara Jean entered the picture.
- Similarly, the last couple of seasons showed Brock and Barbara Jean entering this, constantly bickering and fighting, separating at one point, and teetering on the brink of divorce several times.
- Finally, back in the first season, Brock meets Barbara Jean's father, who acts morally superior to Brock since he has been married for over 50 years and would never divorce his wife... "mostly because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye." Reba showed that, while this is becoming a Dead Horse Trope in a lot of ways, in some conservative and religious communities (the show took place in Texas), a bad marriage is still preferable to a divorce, especially amongst the older generations.
- Til Death is somewhat of a deconstruction in that the better you know Joy, the slobbier she seems, and the better a match for Eddie.
- My Family
- Keeping Up Appearances. Poor Richard deserves a sainthood for putting up with Hyacinth for all those years.
- Any time a married couple is seen in The Benny Hill Show, it falls square into this.
- Fawlty Towers shows marriage as being a constant battle between Basil and Sybil.
- Frances and Terry's marriage in The Librarians.
- Joe and Phyllis Britt in The Twilight Zone episode "What's in the Box?".
- Stanley and Helen Roper, on Three's Company and The Ropers (and their UK counterparts in Man About The House and George And Mildred).
- Being forced to marry the foolish, irresponsible Lydia is essentially Wickham's punishment in Pride and Prejudice. It is also implied that, although she loves him now, marriage to Wickham will one day be this to Lydia as well. Many other couples in Jane Austen's works exemplify this as well, sometimes softened with moments of Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other. Justified in that divorce was not really an option in Regency England
- The Bickersons
- On Cabin Pressure, Mr. and Mrs. Birling openly hate each other, which is part of the reason Mr. Birling pays the protagonists to fly him far away from her.