In a work which features more than one couple, usually a main pairing and a beta couple, the writers will try to differentiate the two couples from each other. An easy way to do this is to have one couple bicker constantly while the other gets together easily and are sweetly in love. The main couple can be either type, as long as the beta couple are the other type.
Note that while many fictional couples argue a bit before they get together, this trope is about long-term relationships- the bickering couple will always bicker, even after they're together.
See Slap-Slap-Kiss, Belligerent Sexual Tension and Everyone Can See It for the bickering couple, and Sickeningly Sweethearts or Happily Married for the peaceful couple. Also related to Beta Couple, Official Couple and Pair the Spares, which may happen to the Beta Couple.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Ed and Winry bicker constantly and are obviously going to be a couple from the beginning. Al gets together with Mai in what seems to be a much more peaceful relationship.
- While Alexander and Olivier Armstrong certainly aren't a couple, during the battle with Sloth, their constant bickering happens to compliment Sig and Izumi Curtis's lovey dovey relationship.
- Love Stage!!: Main couple Izumi and Ryuma, after a few initial arguments, are quick to say that they're in love with each other, and the rest of the conflicts in their relationship come from outside interference. Beta Couple Shougo and Rei spend almost ten years as Friend with Benefits, all the while fighting constantly and refusing to admit they actually love each other.
- Wife and Wife juxtaposes the relationship between the Sickeningly Sweethearts Sumi and Kina and the one between their neighbors, Komugi and Hayase, who keep fighting over most trivial things (well, it's mostly Komugi fighting, while Hayase just takes it in stride). Both couples are incredibly devoted to each other, however.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Yoko and Kamina relentlessly bicker and insult each other, are in obvious denial, and even have Accidental Pervert moments to top it off. In contrast, passive Simon and sweet Nia fall in love very easily.
- Archie Comics, by virtue of consisting of nothing but various love triangles and teen romances, often has stories with this dynamic. Most often has Reggie and Veronica bickering and Archie and Betty being the sweet couple, but it can switch depending on the needs of the story.
- Played with during Dykes to Watch Out For. Initially Toni and Clarice had the happiest relationship (and marriage), while protagonist Mo and girlfriend Harriet could barely reconcile. A decade later, though, Toni's and Clarice's marriage declined due to the latter's workaholic tendacies, while Mo entered a relationship with Dr. Sydney and the two formed a fulfilling dynamic up to the strip's current day.
- Blondie often contrasts the Ditherses (bickering) with the Bumsteads (peaceful).
- Shrek. Shrek and Fiona spend most of the first movie (and the subsequent movies) bickering about everything, while Donkey and Dragon fall in love in their second scene together and have kids by the third movie.
- Dungeons & Dragons. Ridley and Marina argue every moment they're together, while Token Minority Couple Snails and Norda fall in love pretty much immediately.
- The Huntsman: Winter's War: The two dwarf couples have this dynamic, with Nion and Doreena as the sweet couple and Gryff and Bromwyn as the bickering couple.
- Harry Potter. Harry and Ginny get together with only a few arguments (and a few false starts), but for the most part their scenes together are sweet and loving. Ron and Hermione, on the other hand...
- Pride and Prejudice casts Nice Girl Jane and amiable Bingley as the peaceful couple (they fall in love almost immediately and all complications in their relationship arise from outside intervention) and snarky Elizabeth and aloof Darcy as the bickering couple (Elizabeth initially can't stand him and her behavior towards him reflects this).
- Emma has Emma and Knightley as the Bickering (constantly criticizing each other, snarky, in denial about their feelings for each other) vs. Harriet and Martin as the Peaceful (both sweet people and are kept apart only by Emma's interference).
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Eddard and Catelyn Stark's Perfectly Arranged Marriage (with the only snag being Eddard's illegitimate son) is contrasted by Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister's mutual abuse and infidelity.
- Robb Stark is a foil for Jon Snow, just as Jeyne Westerling is a foil for Ygritte. While Robb and Jeyne have a very sweet love marriage, Jon and Ygritte's are in a Dating Catwoman-type relationship.
- The Martell brothers. Doran's relationship with his wife Mellario all but dissolves due to fighting over cultural differences and they've been estranged for years. Meanwhile, Oberyn maintains a easy, stable relationship with his paramour Ellaria Sand. Ironically, Oberyn is known for being the more argumentative one.
- In The Sorcerer's Daughter, for most of the time, Rothbart and Odette are either icily polite or engaged in a Snark-to-Snark Combat quarrel, while Siegfried and Odile are sweet, tender and teasingly flirtatious. It has a lot to do with the fact that, for a number of reasons, Rothbart and Odette have a much harder time even admitting their feelings to themselves, let alone confessing them to each other.
- I Love Lucy is the classic TV example, contrasting the Happily Married Ricky and Lucy with their always-bickering neighbors Fred and Ethel.
- The first season of Married... with Children contrasts the bickering Bundys with the newlyweds-in-love Rhodes'. By a few years into the show the Rhodes have been "corrupted" by the Bundys into bickering too. And then the Rhodes divorce, while the Bundys stay together.
- An episode of Malcolm in the Middle has Malcolm's parents be the former while Stevie's parents are the latter. By the end, the latter couple become the ones bickering through the former couple's influences.
Malcolm: I think we're contagious.
- A later episode revealed that Abe and Kitty's relationship had been built around staying together for Stevie's sake and they had been in a failing relationship for a long time but chose the hide that, where as Lois and Hal had always been deeply in love with each other and despite numerous fights, never lost site of this fact.
- How I Met Your Mother has Lily and Marshall by default playing the peaceful couple to whatever bickering couple their friends organized themselves with:
- One of the flashbacks show that Lily and Marshall were the romantic and peaceful counterparts to Ted and his controlling and serial cheater ex-girlfriend Karen, with whom he constantly broke up and got back together again after catching her several times with other men, in his bunk bed.
- Season 5 briefly inverts this dynamic, with an episode that shows Barney and Robin as a loving couple who managed to avoid fighting months into their relationship while Lily and Marshall have a huge fall out due to some misguided tips from Barney. The end of the episode reveals that Robin and Barney's fights are in much bigger number and intensity than anything Marshall and Lily deal with.
- Season 6 has Ted dating Zoe, the two constantly argue and fight over everything as well as Marshall and Lily, who are capable of meeting each other halfway and agreeing with things. An episode is dedicated to comparing his relationship: Ted and Zoe think that Marshall and Lily's relationship is lazy and stops them for growing while lily and Marshall think that their relationship is exhausting and toxic. At the end of the episode, Ted confesses that a supportive relationship is better and realizes his relationship with Zoe is awful and taking a lot of him.
- Bones: Cam and Arastoo, as of the moment they get together show a relationship more well adjusted and less prone to complications than Booth with Brennan or Angela with Hodgins. The latter two had considerably large Will They or Won't They? filled with tensions and a relationship with plenty of fallouts (Booth and Brennan have a hard time agreeing on things while Angela and Hodgins are both hard headed and Hodgins becoming a jerk after getting crippled didn't helped), while Cam and Arastoo have a secret relationship free of pressure and fit each other pretty well.
- Parks and Recreation has, in season 4, this dynamic between the constantly fighting and breaking up just to get back together Ann and Tom against the well adjusted and loving relationships between Andy and April as well as between Ben and Leslie.
- Moonlighting: Alpha couple Dave and Maddie are the bickering pair. Agnes and Herbert are the pair whose road to true love runs true.
- Friends: Ross and Rachel are the iconic bickering and breaking up Will They or Won't They? couple. The contrast is Chandler and Monica: they simply went from friends to a perfectly stable couple until the end of the show.
- This is the main plot of Donald Marguiles' Pulitzer Prize-winning play Dinner With Friends, as happily-married Gabe and Karen watch their best friends' marriage fall apart.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? showcases two pairs of wedded people, Nick and Honey and George and Martha-the former which is a (comparatively, at first) normal couple, and the latter which is a pair of belligerent alcoholics that try their damnedest to demolish the other every time they talk about or at each other as well as team up to attack the normal couple when they try to help. It is implied that they do this constantly as a way to direct their frustrations to a third party and not destroy each other.
- Used in a few plays by William Shakespeare, most prominently in Much Ado About Nothing, where the lovey-dovey Hero and Claudio are contrasted by the "merry war" of Beatrice and Benedick. Interestingly, Claudio and Hero's relationship is shown to be much less solid and trusting than Beatrice and Benedick's, who are only able to bicker so much because they know and understand each other very well.
- While neither couple is actually peaceful both relationships are on-and-off ones plagued with jealousy La Bohème contrasts Rodolfo and Mimí with Marcello and Musetta this way. Even when both couples break up, Rodolfo and Mimí do it gently and sadly, putting it off as long as possible, while Marcello and Musetta throw plates and scream insults at each other.
- West Side Story contrasts Maria and Tony (peaceful couple) with Anita and Bernardo (bickering couple). Both couples are happy, though, and both girls are devastated when their lovers are killed.
- Young Justice. Miss Martian and Superboy get together with relatively little brouhaha and remain stable throughout the first season while Artemis and Kid Flash go through a ton of Belligerent Sexual Tension before finally getting together. Reversed in the second season, when Miss Martian and Superboy have broken up due to disagreement on the usage of her powers while Artemis and Kid Flash are still very much together.
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- Donald Duck and Daisy Duck are constantly bickering. In contrast, Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse are usually content together.
- Played with in the 2013 Mickey Mouse short, "The Adorable Couple". Donald and Daisy start out as the former and Mickey and Minnie start out as the latter. Mickey and Minnie try to help cheer Donald and Daisy up, but only end up making themselves bicker just like them. At the end of the short, both couples are a mix of the two; they make themselves happy by insulting each other.
- Played with on The Simpsons. Homer and Marge's relationship is complex enough that they can be either a bickering couple or a peaceful couple depending on the needs of the story. When they are fighting, they are usually paired up with a more loving couple, usually the Flanderses; other stories have them paired up with a bickering couple (such as the van Houtens), resulting in the Simpsons either giving them relationship advice or trying to avoid becoming like them.
- Justice League has Hawkgirl and Green Lantern as the sweet couple and Batman and Wonder Woman as the bickering couple.