To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy marriages are alike; each unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way, which is why dysfunctional marriages make for such fertile literary ground. Sure, there’s the anomalous happily married couple, like Nick and Nora Charles in Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, but they’re more the exception that proves the rule.
And the rule, of course, is that misery loves company. Relationships are complicated; monogamy is hard. And so it’s a relief, at times, to peek into the lives of people who have things just a little bit worse than you do. Or maybe they don’t have it worse? Maybe you can find something to relate to in the roller coaster relationships of some of the most dysfunctional marriages in literature. Well, hopefully, your spouse isn’t enabling your rape by Satan in order to advance his theatrical career. But, who knows? I don’t know you!