I can vividly remember the first time I watched Judd Apatow’s, This Is 40, my husband of just over one month had bought it home from Video EZY with some Thai takeaway and a bottle of red. The film follows married couple Pete and Deb (who you may recognise from Knocked Up) as they both enter their 40th year of life. Once the movie finished we looked at each other and laughed, a smug little pitiful laugh, for these two people had clearly gone so wrong at some point in their marriage and had ended up with all sorts of issues. We laughed and laughed and I felt sorry for them both but at the same time happy for myself, that I had obviously been wise enough to choose a far better-suited life partner.
Fast forward to five years later when I find myself lying dead on the couch on a Friday night after I’d finally gotten both of my kids to sleep and my husband had gone to bed when I saw that the movie had just been added to Netflix, so I put it on…. and here we are hours later with 15 Fictional Couples That Accurately Depict Married Life.
Pete and Debbie – ‘This Is 40’
“Let me clarify first by saying that I think the first time I watched this movie as a newlywed I was totally delusional about what marriage would actually be like. Years of devouring every romcom in existence had me convinced that it was going to be like a Norah Efron movie, and sometimes it is but a lot of the time it’s not and This Is 40 takes place in one of those times when it’s not. Pete and Debbie fight a lot, about very realistic things; money, kids, Pete taking forever on the toilet because he’s actually playing games on his iPhone. There’s miscommunication, they hide things from each other in order to not stress the other one out, they argue about whose music taste is better… it’s a stressful year with a lot of challenges and really what you see is two people who are just trying to do their best to survive. What annoyed me most the first time *SPOILER ALERT* was the ending. After they spent the whole movie fighting they just made up so easily, it seemed so unrealistic. Now I’ve realised it’s not, they love each other and they want to stay together and be happy again so they choose to get over it and move on.” Alex, 30, married 5 years.
Phil and Claire – ‘Modern Family’
“I would definitely say Claire and Phil Dunphy from Modern Family! I’ve always said they represent Josh and myself! Claire is the bad cop and Phil’s the good cop in their parenting styles which is so realistic! Plus he’s the dad that constantly tries to be cool and impress his kids when Claire is the stern mother that mostly looks at her husband like he’s a big kid himself. They love each other, they love their family and are constantly in situations that truly reflect what family life is like! Well, at least what Josh and my life is like anyway haha.” Sharday, Channel 9’s The Last Resort, in a relationship for 6 years.
“Growing up I imagined that my marriage would be like the relationship between Seth and Summer on the O.C. As a married adult, I would say that it is much more like Claire and Phil from Modern Family. Claire and Phil always seem really real and relatable. I can be a stresshead and want to control things and my husband is a comedian and can be like one of the kids sometimes, but he makes me laugh every day and together we get through what life throws at us.” Cassie, 28, married 6 years.
Jim and Pam – ‘The Office’
“I think Jim and Pam seem the most realistic because they are portrayed as a regular couple who work 9 to 5 jobs and fight about real things. They had a regular wedding and aren’t like the other ‘perfect’ couples on tv. Also, the way they began their relationship seems the most realistic as they were friends first and showed their awkwardness when they realised that they liked each other” Eilish, 17, single.
“Jim and Pam are a great example of a really good marriage, they always have each other’s backs, they care so much about the other person being as happy as they possibly can be. They have a few problems in the later series but they do everything possible to make it work and when Jim holds Pam in the carpark before heading back to Philidelphia and it flashes back to there wedding… I can’t write anymore because I am crying now, there’s just so much love there.” Alex, 30, married 5 years.
Bob and Helen Parr – ‘The Incredibles’
“I think Bob and Helen portray a realistic marriage in The Incredibles. From the start, it is clear they have chemistry and love each other. Even though they fight over things like kids, jobs and life. They still love each other and work through there issues while saving the world.” Kevin, 31, married 5 years.
John and Jenny – ‘Marley & Me’
“When I was growing up I thought that marriage would be like The Walsh’s relationship on Beverly Hills 90210. Now I think that Marley & Me is a more accurate description as it shows the different stages of a relationship, a loved-up couple in the beginning and then babies. It’s not always perfect. I remember there’s a scene when the husband comes home from work. From his car, he can hear the kids crying and see that the mum is tired and cranky. He turns the music up and doesn’t want to get out of the car. I think that scene is really funny, my husband has done that.” Chantal, 43, married 20 years.
Monica and Chandler – ‘Friends’
“I’m going to go with Monica and Chandler from friends because I love the development of their relationship, starting from strangers, becoming friends and then falling for each other. In an ideal world, I think that is the most perfect way to end up together. Plus they have arguments and learn about each other every time through the process of fixing what they’ve done wrong to one another.” Ashleigh, 23, in a relationship.
“Monica and Chandler were always so good to each other, even during their fertility issues, financial problems, and other big things that could break up a marriage, they always stuck by each other and got through it.” Jasmine, 24, separated.
“Monica and Chandler love each other so much, they’re friends as well as a couple, he’s always making her laugh and they work well as a team to get through life.” Cassie, 28, married 6 years.
Cindy and Dean – ‘Blue Valentine’
“I think Cindy and Dean in Blue Valentine had a realistic marriage until it all went downhill. The couple from Up have a pretty realistic marriage as well.” Zac, 25, single.
Allie and Noah – ‘The Notebook’
“The Notebook celebrates the depth of their love in its portrayal of the couple as they age together in the nursing home, with Noah keeping by her side even when she can’t remember their many years together.” Danielle, 28, single.
Amy and Jake – ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’
“I think Amy Santiago and Jake Peralta have a realistic relationship and they are friends for a long time before they get married which I think is really important.” Amber, 22, in a relationship for 6 years.
Ben and Katie – ‘The Story Of Us’
“When I first got married at 20 I thought marriage was going to be like The Young And The Restless or maybe The Bold And The Beautiful! After almost 30 years and two marriages, I would say it is definitely more like The Story Of Us, sometimes happy, sometimes trying, exhausting and definitely a work in progress!” Kelly, 50, married 20 years.
“The Story Of Us is heartbreaking and I cry every time I watch it but I love it so much. It is such a realistic depiction of a marriage. Ben and Katie are so in love and have so much chemistry, you just want them to work so badly, but they have so many arguments about, well pretty much everything that you question whether or not love is enough of a reason to stay together.” Alex, 30, married 5 years.
Eric and Tami – ‘Friday Night Lights’
“I think that Coach Taylor and his wife Tami represent marriage well on Friday Night Lights because they have their struggles and but they always get through it together.” Christopher, 30, married 6 years.
“Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor are an accurate portrayal of a realistic happy marriage. They share a deep love but both make mistakes. They sometimes act stubborn, pigheaded and even selfish (ok that’s mostly Coach) but they are willing to admit when they are wrong and put the required effort into making their marriage work. They aren’t the perfect TV couple; they fight and get mad but when they kiss and makeup they make you believe in true love.” Lauren, 31, married.
Frankie and Mike -‘The Middle’
“Before I was married I thought it would be like Ray and Deb from Everybody loves Raymond but after 20 years I’d say it’s more like Frankie and Mike from The Middle. It is just so true to real life, the house is not perfect, the kids have 3 different quirky personalities, even their dining table has a missing chair and they never bothered getting another one and just use a lawn chair instead.” Brett, 45, married 20 years.
“The Middle is realistic. Frankie and Mike are a real example of two supporting parents trying to raise a family, living within their means, having the things they need but also with some of the wants. Through the bad and good times, they really are true best friends first and then husband and wife, that honestly shows their strength as they take on things TOGETHER!! It’s raw and real.” Rebecca, 35, married 10 years.
Molly and Arthur Weasley – ‘Harry Potter’
“I grew up with Harry Potter so from a young age I was able to understand their relationships dynamic, they were who I saw as ‘true love’. I’ve always modelled my parenting around Molly, and my husband and I have a very similar dynamic to them. My biggest dream in life has always been to be a stay-at-home-mum to a big family, I guess that’s the biggest thing that I identify to Molly with.” Jayde, 23, newly-wed.
Dave and Julie – ‘Packed To The Rafters’
“The issues they faced on the show were always realistic to that a non-fiction couple would face. But it was the way they dealt with them. Sometimes they communicated with each other well to solve their issues, other times they turned to their friends first for advice before going to each other. This sometimes caused more problems than the original problem! They fought on the show, they showed their vulnerabilities. They showed how relationships are not perfect all the time and that there can be elements of doubt.” Paula, 34, married 5 years.
Deb and Ray – ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
“I think Ray and Debra show what married life is really like, they love each other but clearly get frustrated with each other. Plus they deal with real-life issues like the in-laws.” Dawn, 59, separated.
“Everybody Loves Raymond shows a really good example of marriage with Ray and Deb. They bicker about relatable things like kids and money but there are a lot of nice moments between them when you get to see just how much they love each other.” Kevin, 31, married 5 years.
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