It Takes Two to Make a Marriage Work

By @40somethingahjumma, @nearsea and @akhenaten from Soompi


(Ep 1-7 reflections)

Is it odd that I find Yoon Hee the least likeable person in the show? Even less so than Do Joon Young. At least he doesn’t pretend what he’s all about. I understand that she’s disgruntled about her married life. I get that she’s looking for an outlet for all her unmet needs but you’d think she’d work out what sort of man DJY is by now. From where I’m looking the two of them are in it for the thrill of the chase… the secret rendezvous, the secret phone calls… there’s not a lot of love between the two. The irony is that the two of them are working so much harder to maintain the secrecy in this affair than she is to try and repair her relationship with DH. I also object to the implication that the affair is DH’s fault and that the risk of exposure is his as well so he has to go. It’s a case wanting one’s cake and eating it too.

Marriage is hard… even when you have a good one… not just when it’s heading for the undertaker’s table. I don’t know when it was that DH and YH stopped communicating. I’m not blaming YH wholly for the failure in the relationship. Only for not having the courage to confront DH over it. It may be that DH is a terrible husband. They seem like such a mismatch on the surface but perhaps she was attracted to his “niceness” in the beginning and is now making up for it by going to the other extreme and sleeping with a bad boy.

(Ep 8-12 reflections)

It’s obvious why DH hangs around the old neighbourhood as if his life depends on it. It isn’t just because they’re fixtures in his life but in the dog eat dog world that he has to front up to every working day, the old neighbourhood and all the people in it are his lifeline… his refuge. How else is he to survive the insanity? The decency of these people are a breath of fresh air in contrast to the rough and tumble of office politics. I’m not an imbiber of alcohol but Jung Hee’s pub feels like a place where those who go there can be themselves and be accepted. It’s a place where people can get away with saying anything to each other and still be loved. It’s delightful.

I really don’t think the old neighbourhood is as much of a thorn in the side of DH and YH’s marriage as she thinks it is.

Unspoken and unmet expectations are a toxic yeast-like combination in a marriage. I don’t dislike YH as much now that she’s acknowledged her own folly in getting embroiled with DJY. I also agree that one some level DH failed to meet her emotional needs. The problem with their marriage if I may offer a diagnosis, is that she saw the old neighbourhood and her in-laws as adversaries, something vaguely dangerous that she was in competition with. I have no doubt that she fell for him because she saw the decency in him… and perceived him as a good catch but she didn’t understand what it was that made him “the good man”. All that sense of responsibility — “baggage”… which she saw as an encumbrance was what made him the likeable man that he is. The moment the extra luggage became a negative entity in her eyes, the man became less loveable.

It is absolutely true that when you marry someone, you don’t just marry the individual… there’s also a family that’s very much part of the package. YH’s mistake was believing that DH would change once he had his “own” family while he perhaps saw her and their son as an extension of his existing family. I don’t think there are right or wrong answers to this per se… it’s up to couples to negotiate these things. Even if she found her in-laws to be a bit of a nuisance at times, DH’s mother did help raise their son.

At the end of the day, DH being a good man wasn’t good enough for YH. Fair enough. It seems like she wanted a good man that would be completely devoted to her. She found sharing him with the world far more challenging than she had bargained for. And she wasn’t all that interested in being part of his world except in the fringes. As I thought, they were a mismatch. On paper everything seemed right. But at the end of the day, the very thing that attracted her to him became repellant.

I imagine that Ji’An arouses all of DH’s protective instincts. There’s something about her that strikes at the very core of who he is. He’s so used to playing that role in his own family that it’s not hard for those tendencies to spill over elsewhere… particularly when there’s an undeniable connection between them.

Did they always intend for Ji’An and DH to be a romantic pairing? Because even from the early days that’s the trajectory I saw. There’s something about the way LSK plays DH that’s very boyish. He seems to me boyishly lonely. I can imagine that for some the age gap has an “icky” factor to it but I just think about Jane Austen’s Mr Knightley or Colonel Brandon (particularly Brandon’s age gap with Marianne)… and well, let’s just say there’s some precedent for this sort of thing. I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend it in RL especially in this day and age but it is an interesting dynamic in this drama to explore. It doesn’t bother me either way because of the way the show has drawn them together as empathetic halves of a whole.


About Yoon Hee – ironically the same thing that irks her, is something I think I would be comfortable with. Like Dong Hoon gives her a lot of space, to do her job, to spend times on her own (which I personally tend to do a lot, either with work or studies or giving time to friends), so for me it would be a comfortable experience, something that would help me in my day-to-day life. The man even does all the household chores and doesn’t bother her with the mundane jobs, so isn’t that something women would be happy about?

Like you said, I think it’s possible that she fell for his good boy charms but later figured out they want different things from life.

From the marriages I have seen, one of the partners tend to compromise. In Yoon Hee’s defense, she just couldn’t deal with the way she was living her life, but instead of trying to make it right, or taking the exit (which would save both of them lots of trauma), she chose to stay in the hollow marriage.

I think if Ji An or someone like her was married to Dong Hoon, they would have enjoyed doing things together, either in their home or going out with friends in Jung Hee’s bar or elsewhere. Since both of them share the same principles, for them, responsibility and love for family comes first – like Dong Hoon is with his mom and brothers, or Ji An with her grandma.

But what’s again interesting is, how Yoon Hee always needed to be somewhere, or go somewhere new to ‘enjoy time with Dong Hoon’, like leaving the neighborhood or Dong Hoon not spending more time with his other family members. For all those times they were together in their home, it’s interesting how they had nothing much to talk about. Whereas Dong Hoon and Ji An didn’t need to be somewhere to click, it just happened instantly, or they just pick up from where they left last time as if there wasn’t even any interval in between. They always have a lot to talk about. Speaks a lot about their chemistry / their rapport, kind of.


Isn’t that what love and friendship are all about?  They say true friends do not need to fill the silences between them. And no matter how long they may be apart, when they get together, they just pick up where they left off as if no time has passed in between their meetings.

Which makes me think that perhaps Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon weren’t really friends before they got married.  Or maybe they were, but could only function as such when with other friends as those others can make up for the “silences”.  Dong Hoon wouldn’t have to talk much to Yoon Hee because there would be others to talk to her.  And she would never lack for attention because there would be others to give her that. But when it was just the two of them, they began to see each other for what they truly are. At least I have to give it to Dong Hoon; he was doing his best to honor his vows.  They say love isn’t just an emotion but a choice you make every single day to love the one that you chose to spend the rest of your life with. I think Dong Hoon was trying to do that in his own misguided way, but Yoon Hee seemed to have given up trying long ago.


(NOTE: These posts were originally written before Ep 13 aired.)


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