The new season of Downton Abbey does not disappoint.

The last two episodes have seemed a bit slow, but the shocking surprise endings in each have more than made up for what some viewers might regard as torpor.

As is customary, we see a few new characters appear. One of them is a Russian refugee, Count Igor Kuragin, who takes a fancy to Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) many decades earlier.

Without giving too much away, it is clear he would like to rekindle his friendship with her. In speaking of their respective marriages, both are discreet, particularly Lady Violet.

Igor makes this observation on her reticence:

To be unhappy in marriage is ill-bred.

SpouseMouse and I looked at each other and cried, ‘Yes!’

There was a time — last seen in the 1960s — when most married couples didn’t discuss their differences or any unhappiness with other friends.

Admittedly, that did create problems for those — particularly women — in violent or otherwise dysfunctional marital unions. I exclude them from Count Igor’s sentiment.

By the 1970s, suddenly, many couples — and, sorry to say, women especially — seemed to be moaning about their spouses. Many hadn’t even been married that long; they had young children. It is hard to determine whether celebrity magazines or newspaper reports encouraged this or if it was the constant pop psychology message of getting things off one’s chest.

Although housewive’s revelations were not of an intimate nature, one woman did tell another. Before long, the husband found out that the whole neighbourhood knew of his personality failings (most often, ‘too passive’ or ‘not assertive enough’, meaning, ‘too nice a guy’). Another wife would tell her husband who then relayed the situation to the surprised, embarrassed and saddened husband, who then withdrew from the men whom he had befriended.

Within a few months, the couple filed for divorce. I saw this on several occasions.

The wife never minded, saying, ‘I can always find a job’. However, it was she who was left with the children. I often wonder how these women fared on their own. They and their ex-husbands seemed to vanish into thin air.

It would be good if we sometimes held our tongues, especially about our husbands or wives. It seems that men are better at this than women, but, where differences can be worked out between the two in the privacy of their own home, may they take the opportunity to do so.

No one wants to hear petty carping about someone else’s spouse. It is ill-bred.

Advertisements