Quarreling Couples


Quarreling lovers. Or soon-to-be-lovers. Or once-upon-a-time were lovers. In any scenario, they’re definitely locking horns with each other in some way.

My husband and I got into an argument on this subject. Well…not exactly an argument; more of a disagreement. We were watching the new HBO drama Newsroom, I think episode four. I’ve really fallen for the show and admit, when I feel that way, I don’t tolerate criticism well. I lose my objectivity, unless the flaws are so outrageous they’re impossible to forgive.

So my husband was complaining about two of the relationships in the show. Why can’t these couples just acknowledge they’re in love? Why can’t they just get together, because we all know in the end, they will?

But where’s the fun in that? I answered. In this particular kind of story, the quarreling pair provides the conflict, or some of it, anyway. If two characters immediately declare their love for each other and find their happy-ever-after, there’s really no reason to keep watching. Or keep reading. Of course, the reader/viewer should love the journey. The ups and downs. The parting and the coming back together. They should especially enjoy the verbal parrying. Although I admit, sometimes it feels like we’re being jerked around if it goes on too long.

I was forced to remind him of a few examples of relationships from classic stories in which the main characters begin by either hating, disliking, or being oblivious to each other. Sparring in some way. Katherine and Petruchio (The Taming of the Shrew), Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing), Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), and Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre). For that matter, Scarlett and Rhett in Gone With The Wind. And tension between the two main characters is definitely a staple of romance novels. Think Georgette Heyer.










YA couples whose relationships are sometimes adversarial: Katniss and Peeta (Hunger Games), and Katsa and Po (Graceling), among others. Unfortunately for him, my husband isn’t familiar with them. So I smugly pointed out that my own book, Kissing Shakespeare, which debuted August 14, features such a couple. Miranda and Stephen get off to a really bad start when he kidnaps her and whisks her back to Shakespeare’s time. But it doesn’t end there…

What are your favorite books, movies, or TV shows that feature quarreling lovers?

2 comments on “Quarreling Couples

  1. My favorite couple is Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I think that was Liz’s best performance. She just seethes with anger at Richard. That movie is actually hard to watch. It leaves you exhausted because of all the drinking and fighting, but it’s a great story!

  2. It was a great performance, and how ironic that the two of them also played Katherine and Petruchio! I wonder if they deliberately chose parts that reflected their real life relationship. I know what you mean about it leaving you exhausted–they must have felt that way too.

    Thanks for your response, John.

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