Stray Thoughts: Relationship Problems

Comments on one of the most recent eps of My Heroic Husband I’ve watched gave me serious pause for thought. It seems a lot of people would rather Ning Yi break up with Su Tan’er, his wife, and go for the young bandit leader and daughter of the bandit chief, Liu Dabiao (who is being pined after by fellow lead bandit Chen, though she seems unaware of this as he’s a Childhood Friend).

It seems to me that a lot of people don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like versus an unhealthy one, even when it’s demonstrated in front of them for several episodes.

Let’s go for the first and most critical point: yes, Liu Dabiao made Ning Yi her Counselor to solve problems for her as the bandits try to hold onto the city of Lin’an, but he is still her prisoner. He’s tried multiple times to escape, thwarted each time by either armed force or giving up his chance at running to save other people. And more than once (dazed, in pain, and drugged) he’s made it blatantly clear that he considers it his duty to get away. No matter how cute the bandit chief’s daughter is, this is not at all a consensual relationship. Full stop.

Through much plotting Ning Yi’s managed to get a certain amount of free roaming through the city and his blunderbuss back – but he well knows that’s not enough to make a successful escape. Yet. He still wants out. He may not want to physically hurt Liu Dabiao, she avoids hurting civilians, but she’s more an obstacle than anything else.

Contrast that with the contract Ning Yi signed with Tan’er, that they’d get married so her family would be satisfied, live celibately together, he’d help her get the family seal and she’d pay off his outstanding debts and grant him a divorce. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement, if not a love match. They were determined to build a working relationship, so they’d both get what they wanted, free of the Su family’s manipulations.

And they did. They got the family fortunes back on their feet, outwitted and outthought competitors, and succeeded so well that Tan’er got the seal… and in the process learned she had a good business partner who also thought about her feelings. So she absconded with the divorce agreement.

The difference here is that Ning Yi is not trapped. He could ask for a new divorce arrangement to be drawn up any time. In fact, he mentions that straight out to Tan’er – that he could, but… it would be so much of a hassle, and he doesn’t have anywhere else he really wants to go, if she doesn’t want him to leave….

Through working honestly with Tan’er, he’s learned to respect her as a businesswoman and a person. He found her admirable. And from there he fell in love. (Yes, very sappy, I adore it.)

This is the key point to a healthy relationship, instead of the flashfire of physical attraction so many shows use instead. Real relationships take work. And respect. Not just “oo, he’s hot.”

We need more healthy relationships in fiction. And less “I kidnapped him/her into it and held them until Stockholm Syndrome kicked in.”

(Ning Yi’s going to lead a breakout, I just know it.)


21 thoughts on “Stray Thoughts: Relationship Problems

  1. I haven’t seen this far yet but I know that a lot of people are into the bad boy/girl trope while realizing that it wouldn’t work in real life so they want in to work in fiction to live the fantasy for a bit.

    Su Tan`er is not just business savvy, she is also a good boss. In the first episode you see her gently instructing her workers how to improve the dye, she expects them them to do their jobs but never more then they can handle. When things go wrong she often blames her self first. She’s skeptical of Ning Yi`s more modern business ideas but she does let him try them. Honestly that’s a rare thing these days and I think we need more of that.

    The scene where they both got drunk from the Tiger Wine cemented the relationship to me, it was both endearing and funny.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Yeah, keep someone in a corner long enough and something is going to go boom.

    And usually not in the way anyone expects.

    I agree that we need more healthy relationships in media. I’m all for the “enemies-to-lovers” trope, or “arranged-marriage-that-becomes-genuine”, but only if it’s done in a healthy way, such as the individuals involved slowly gaining respect for each other through interactions and not just based on looks or via Stockholm Syndrome.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The trick with that is to make a healthy relationship grow, the author needs to come up with reasons they like and respect each other… and that’s a lot of work with audience inserts that have no personality and 1-dimensional characters!

      Really, do you expect authors to come up with personalities!?

      Those get in the way of the plot!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It sounds like the bandit woman is basically supposed to be a contrast, showing that Tan’er could have been more coercive and wasn’t.

        It is perfectly okay to to use an escape clause or termination clause, if both parties are satisfied and do not want to terminate a contract. Usually you would renegotiate for more benefits, but there is no obligation to do it.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Fair warning, the webnovel description included the “harem” tag.
    It’s possible that there is only one “main” relationship, but plenty of women just hanging around.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Eh, the one available on the web is only as far as him starting to help the ex-courtesan with her pancake business, so…not very far into the story at all, I think.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw dang, harems bug me, even if there aren’t actual love “romantic” relationships involved with the others involved. And I can’t quite explain what really bothers me about them… the thing that comes mind is that it feels selfish for the other parties to keep “hanging on” (and/or competing for the main charcter) when their “love interest” is by all appearances in a happy, healthy, relationship. I know there are some that are written better than that, and I guess at the core of it is that I am selfish. I would not want to share my partner, romantically at least, with other people. I know the whole thing of “they can’t help loving them, and can’t let go” but I’m like: too bad, they are MY partner, you can be friends but that’s it. Probably sounds terrible, huh? 😅

      Liked by 2 people

      1. +1

        Not at all. The traditional Christian wedding vows include the phrase “forsaking all others”.
        If you’re married under that oath, then you better do that.

        And since that’s been the dominant paradigm in western cultures for centuries (and has, just possibly, infiltrated into other cultures as an awesomely romantic idea), it’s only natural to have that mindset. (yes, regardless of whatever misuse and abuse has been made of the idea)

        The one that bugs me is the woman that keeps hanging on to a man because he’s so loving and kind and faithful… so she wants to seduce him away from his wife and take him for herself.

        Way to break the thing that attracted you to him in the first place, moron.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. The phrase that seems accurate but makes me cringe is “emotional availability.”

        When I wiggle down into it– it’s like how some very good writers had Kirk in love with the Enterprise, and women were just a fling.

        Encouraging women to CHOOSE to be a third wheel is a Really Bad Idea.

        (….dudes, too, but there’s at least somewhat similar roles that work for guys, for gals an “auntie” is more like a grandmother roll, while uncle stand-in is closer to bonus dad, it’s complicated)

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Tanár seems like the best choice, indeed, and the bandit daughter like a hidden trap. but i think it could lead to interesting conflict, if while having a really good working relationship with her, if the husband were to slowly fall for another woman, that he had more in common with, got along just as well… so that he didnt want to leave divorce her, as much was pining after and deep inside, wanted to marry the other girl. making it a great working relationship, VS a mutual love case, and a matter for him and his current wife to work and deal with.

    Now, what were local customs regarding concubines and second wives? how acceptable, how widespread is polygamy, and what does his marriage contract says about it?

    maybe the current wife would be the business partner he really fond of, and respects, the wife that is his equal.
    While the OC would be the little wifey he goes all soft, lovey dovey with, relaxes with, who calms and distracts him, entertains him in leisure times, etc… With the bandit daughter being fourth wheel to this, instead of third wheel to Tanár.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If Su Tan’er had married into his family, him taking concubines would have been normal and expected.

      But, reading the translation, I got the impression that since Ning Yi married into her family, he kind of forfeits that option.

      One of the lines mentions a husband that marries in being regarded as less respectable than a concubine…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That is actually kind of extra sweet as a choice, given the chosen setting– it actually manages to kind of echo getting married at all in a sub-culture where the expectation is hooking up.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Willingly abandoning a family name, when it is not expected and not previously agreed upon with the family, is basically a gut punch to everyone on that side. So… that is a trope to handle with care if it comes up IRL.

    If you wanted to have “guy or gal makes lots of friends and chosen family” without the harem lack of conflict/murder/realism, the thing to do is to set up the subsidiary characters with other subsidiary characters, instead of keeping them all on a string. This also allows and encourages the MC to have new friends who are not just love interests of the chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hate the current love for antagonists as love interest. Seen many, Harry/Draco, Blake/ Adam(tapered off since he turned out to be more of a creep than theorized), Sasuke/Naruto, and quite a few more. As a fanfic said”It’s not UST, but mutual loathing”, and really bugs me. I’ve even seen Whitey Schnee/Weiss Schnee, which does not thrill me.

    Something about NTR and bad guys just do it for some people. My feeling is that some people go for the restrained serial killer and open their chains because “ he’s changed” despite the previous times the person has been let loose and gone back to type. If there was genuine remorse and action…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Also don’t look up NTR, it’s a tag on doujin that I find distasteful, as it’s breaking up a semi-healthy(for doujin) relationship for a profoundly unhealthy one.


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