How the Underwood's Can Teach Us About Relationships

By Uloop Archives on March 18, 2016

image via netflix


*Warning: This article contains some spoilers for House of Cards season four. Please do not read ahead if you are uncomfortable with plot points being discussed*

The fourth season of House of Cards released on Netflix on March 4, 2016. The relationship between Frank and Claire Underwood is a key focus of this season due to the cliffhanger ending of season 3 where Claire said she was leaving him. Their relationship, like any other, goes through many ups and downs but within the fourth season, various events put their relationship on the line. While the Underwood’s are a high profile couple with more power than the average Joe, their relationship still provides interesting insight and helps everyone think about the relationships in their own lives.

The season starts out with Claire disappearing off to Dallas while Frank is campaigning in New Hampshire. The nature is unclear to both the audience and to Frank as to why she’s off in the south while he needs her with him, but the message is clear: Claire Underwood is doing her own thing and doesn’t care how it impacts her husband’s presidential race. Claire is feeling like she needs to step out of Frank’s shadow and lead a life of her own— as seen at the end of the episode when it is revealed that she wants to run for an open spot in Congress. This clearly puts a strain on Frank when he learns of this fact and they both do things within the first few episodes to upset the other and undermine their political campaigns.

Their undermining and secret negotiations are low blows for both sides. However, both are fighting for what they think is right and they both have valid points. A relationship takes compromise, a give and take so that both members are happy and feel recognized in their goals and wishes. Claire stood by Frank for nearly thirty years while he campaigned and fought for his positions, and getting to his ultimate goal of gaining the presidency, while Claire had worked on her own endeavors but never gained political office. While the Underwood’s did not communicate their wishes effectively, and used manipulation and threats to try and get their way, it shows how a lack of communication or unwillingness to compromise on goals can negatively impact a relationship. Being honest and listening to your partner is a surefire way to avoid causing problems— large or small— like the Underwood’s were facing in the beginning of season four.

Claire and Frank, after an ultimatum set by Claire, come to an agreement about the direction of her career: she will campaign to be Vice President of the United States. While ultimatums are not an ideal way to get decisions made, Claire knew what she wanted and forced Frank’s hand. Frank had to decide whether it was worth going against his wife and putting his own campaign at risk just to spite Claire and not help her pursue what she thinks is possible. Ultimatums can lead to the end of many relationships, but also save them if the person is willing to change to salvage the relationship. As seen with the Underwood’s, the ultimatum was able to bring them closer together than they had been at the beginning of the season.

image via Netflix

The second half of the season is Frank and Claire Underwood trying to get Claire on the ticket as Vice President. Since Claire has no experience running for a position or campaigning, the fact that she is a woman, and the issue that she’s married to the President all play challenging roles in getting her on the ticket. Frank and Claire have to work together against the people in Washington and manipulate people to play them to achieve their goal. Everyday couples can take a few pointers on how working together on a common goal can bring you two closer together. At the beginning of the season, they were working towards differing goals and at odds with each other. With them working towards getting Claire the nomination, they are closer and getting attuned with each other once again.

While this article did not cover every plot point that brought the Underwood’s closer together, it did highlight some big points that every relationship may face at one time or another. Their personal struggles are splayed out before the audience and every decision is shown through the episodes. While we should not necessarily aspire to be like the Underwood’s, they provide examples of what relationships can do to become closer and reconcile if there are problems.

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