He’s Just a Little Bit Married

I love a good love story.

You should know that about me by now.

Recently I’ve gotten highly involved in the show Once Upon A Time. Love it. Such a fun concept.

Once Upon a Time–Prince Charming married his princess and everyone lived happily ever after. Or not.

If you plan to watch but haven’t yet, skip to the end of this post. Fair warning, faithful readers. OUAT spoilers ahead.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the premise: fairy tale characters (Snow White, Prince Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, The Huntsman, et al) were cursed by the evil queen and were banished to live in the “real world”, ie, Storybrooke, Maine, where they live boring days with no recollection of their former lives as storybook characters. Until. Until Emma Swan shows up, setting the clock in motion, ending the dictatorial reign of the mayor (the Evil Queen). Emma is important, but I won’t go into detail about her now. This post ain’t about her.

So, now everyone in Storybrooke is acting all crazy, working toward figuring out the truth, and the one thing I want the most–the one thing that drives all of it, in my opinion, is the relationship between Snow White and Prince Charming. In the real world, they are known as Mary Margaret and David. And I want them to figure out they are in love.

Except I don’t.

Cause see, there’s one little problem. In the real world, David (our adorable, sweet Prince Charming) is married. To someone else.


Okay, maybe his marriage is questionable. Like, it might have been “faked” by the mayor to keep David under her control (yeah, yeah, it’s a stretch, but the woman is evil). Regardless, David’s wife, Kathryn, says they’re married, and he believes her. By the way, David was in a coma for a really long time (like, since the moment the fairy tale became reality) and only woke up when Mary Margaret (Snow White, his true love, his wife and mother of his child in the fairy tale world) touched him.

Are you still with me?

Yes, David of Reality is married to Kathryn. Yes, Prince Charming (James) of FairyTaleLand is married to Snow White. And they are the same dude.

Confused? I’m getting to a point, I promise. And it has nothing to do with bigamy.

My point is this: in the real world part of the show, David and Mary Margaret find themselves drawn together, all sorts of inappropriate feelings flying around them, even though he’s married to another woman.

Mary Margaret tries to push him away. She tells him it’s wrong.

He tells Mary Margaret that she’s the only thing that feels right since he’s woken up from his coma.

Then he goes home, to his wife, and says he wants to work it out.

In the most recent episode I watched (I DVR them and tend to watch a week or so after they air. Just don’t have time to keep up!), David thought his wife was pregnant. So he told her he would go to counseling. They would work on their issues because they are “supposed” to be in love.

He tells Mary Margaret that she’s the one. But his character is certainly taking advantage of that marriage bed. 

When he found out his wife wasn’t pregnant, he ended up in a lip-lock with Mary Margaret.

Top: Snow White and James, Prince Charming. Bottom: Mary Margaret and David.

Part of me cheered. Part of me just got mad.

I want the hero and heroine to end up together. I really, really do. But now I’m wondering if David is really the hero.

See, I have this little moral compass inside me that says no matter how much of a shrew his wife is (and she’s really not that bad, just suspicious) or how much he feels “drawn” to Mary Margaret, he’s married. Married. 

It’s not just a piece of paper, folks. It’s a commitment.

The fact that our “hero” tells his wife one thing and allows his feelings to drive him straight into the arms of another woman, well, to be honest, it knocks him off the Prince Charming white horse.

I want to want the hero and heroine to be together, but I can’t. I really, really can’t. Marriage means something to me. It’s sacred. And I’m tired of it being treated like a temporary condition rather than a lifelong vow.

Now, let’s say that in a few episodes we find out that he’s not actually married to Kathryn. Does that make it better? Does it make his behavior okay? He thinks he’s married. For all we know right now, he is.

What if he left his wife? If he left her, would his behavior be acceptable?

David with his wife, Kathryn.

Part of my problem with his character is the back-and-forth wishy-washy “I love you but I’m supposed to be with her” attitude.

I want to say that it’ll be okay. He’s only a little married. But something inside me (darn that moral compass) says nope.

How “married” does he have to be for his behavior to be acceptable?

I felt the same way when I saw the movie Something Borrowed.

I hated every second of that movie. I just couldn’t be cool with the whole “I’m stealing my best friend’s fiance” even though the best friend was not a good person. (Is it a coincidence that Gennifer Goodwin was the star of that movie and she’s the star of Once Upon A Time? Weird. I do think she’s so adorable…) Granted, they weren’t married in the movie, but close enough, I guess.

Should it matter that the woman being cheated on is a less than stellar human being? Is that supposed to make it okay?

It certainly seems to make it easier for society to accept.

But what if that woman was you?

Share with me: How do you feel about romances like this–that start with one of the characters in a marriage? Can you get past the marriage “thing” if the spouse is horrible enough?


Filed under Romance, Writing

24 responses to “He’s Just a Little Bit Married

  1. Ugh, I stopped watching for a bit, so I didn't know he was "married." I'm with you…I hate the idea that the search for the "right person" trumps everything else, even marriages. I think that the idea that there's one person you're supposed to be with gives many people the idea they have permission to have an affair. I hate they went down that route on the show. No matter how true the love, the writers surely put a tarnish on the romance.

  2. When he told her that his wife might be pregnant I was furious. I said to my husband, "If he's so in love with her what's he doing in bed with his wife!?" And then I had to pause. It's conflicting. And that proves writing is powerful. It can move us in ways we don't need to be moved. Cheering on an affair. I'm just not sure at this point who the affair really is with. Technically, he was married to Snow first. You make a strong point. Great post.Truth is I'm much more interested in who this new guy is in town and Mr. Gold intrigues me.

  3. Gag! Makes you want to rant doesn't it? I've been a casual viewer of the show, missed a few episodes, but I've felt the same way. Why do the writers want us to cheer for someone to break their marriage vows? Even if there was a "trick" he shouldn't be entertaining the thought. How many people do you know that convince themselves that they met their "soulmate" after they mistakenly married the wrong person? This plays into that thinking. "Soulmate" does not trump "promised and committed before God and man".P.S. I saw Something Borrowed, too, and was disgusted. Why all the back and forth? If you aren't sure who you love, then no "benefits"! Is this our new romantic hero?Sad, so very sad.

  4. I adore you ladies because you totally get me on this. I just don't like it. I don't. I watched last Sunday's episode last night and about gagged when Mary Margaret tried to justify with "if what your doing is wrong but it's because something was meant to be…" blahblahblah. Yeah, he was technically married to Snow first, but he and MM don't know they are PC and Snow. Therefore, he's cheating on his wife. Period.

  5. I don't watch OUAT, but I completely understand the moral compass issue. I feel the same way every time I watch The Notebook. It's like you know who "should" be together, but that doesn't negate the commitments they've already made. I completely agree with Regina on the "soulmate" argument. It's used so often, but all it really means is "I care about my own happiness more than anyone else's."Thanks for the great post, Jennifer! Wonderful food for thought. P.S. Did not see Something Borrowed for exactly the reasons you all mentioned.

  6. Just realized in my comment above that I should have typed "you're" not "your". Ugh. I committed one of my own pet peeves.

  7. i have seen up to the episode where his "wife" appears, but i'm still glad i'm reading the spoilers. to me, it's like he's under a mental illness delusion. for the record, i don't think he's really married at all. that's just concocted by the queen to throw w wrench in things. his behavior does seem disreputable, though, given that if he believes that he's married, he shouldn't be telling ol' MM/SW what he really thinks about her. but it does happen in life that people have accidents, traumatic brain injuries, mental illness, etc and believe things that are wrong….and they absolutely operate under the assumption that it's right. i truly believe he's being manipulated (but then again, i want to believe that). should they be held accountable for their behavior while under this external influence? i think that's the real question. hmm…maybe my thoughts are all wacked b/c i'm a therapist and i've seen some crazy stuff. food for thought….and that something borrowed movie upset me too. it just didn't sit right….and jessica's post that writing can stir us to champion things we would normally not is SO true. i felt like a horrible person for watching that movie and wanting her to get with her bf's guy. and i justified it to myself a lot….she loved him first, she saw him first, etc. ugh.

  8. Jeannie– I love your therapist take on things. :)I think what bothers me the most is that he's telling MM one thing and still sleeping with his "wife." Be a man. Pick one. Do the right thing.Yep, writing certainly is manipulative, isn't it? Here's food for thought for a therapist: why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated?PS- I don't think he's married, either. Still doesn't make me happy with his behavior, but…

  9. This new spin on Snow White and Prince Charming held so much potential and I can't begin to explain how much I was looking forward to it and this show in general. But now…it just makes my stomach churn.I'm pretty sure Prince Charming is suppose to be a gentlemen and gentlemen do not cheat on their wives… even if the marriage isn't real they believe it to be real which makes it real enough.I dont understand why he had to cheat? Do you know how epic this would have been if they had showed some self control and only came together after they found out David's marriage to whatsherface wasn't real? Thanks for this post. You said exactly what I've been thinking. And I needed to sound off too. lol.I've heard of Something Borrowed, I have not seen it, but it too made my blood boil. And I'm definitely not cheering on any affairs. Seeing that Prince Charming is no longer a prince I would want… I probably wont continue watching this show. But we'll see.

  10. Maggie–LOVE your thoughts. And yes, so much wasted potential…

  11. Hi, Jenny. This is a very interesting question.Now, first of all… an affair is bad. BADBADBAD.But, I kind of don't feel like this as grave of an affair as it could be. I probably should see this in black and white, but I guess the whole context has greyed the issue for me in this particular case. Here's my Catholic take on it: When two people enter into the sacrament of marriage, they must be of right mind. Now, someone earlier made a good point that maybe he isn't really married to this chick, but for argument's sake, let's say there was an actual ceremony. Except, he's been cursed…so it wouldn't have met the preferred conditions for marriage in the sacrament sense. And, I don't think it is a secret that the Church really disapproves of a divorce, so much so that most Catholics who get a divorce are never able to marry again (or if they do, they are technically not supposed to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at Mass). However, in certain cases one can seek an annulment post-divorce and it is like the marriage never happened, because the Church deems that it never should have happened. Prince Charming would be a very good candidate for an annulment. Check this out (from http://www.americancatholic.org/newsletters/cu/ac1002.asp):1. On what grounds does the Church declare nullity for some failed marriages?In technical language, the most common reasons are insufficiency or inadequacy of judgment (also known as lack of due discretion, due to some factor such as young age, pressure to marry in haste, etc.), psychological incapacity, and absence of a proper intention to have children, be faithful, or remain together until death.So, now, I guess I would say he still shouldn't be cheating on his wife…but that marriage is a total sham that shouldn't have happened. Plus, all these characters are at the mercy of the Queen's curse…so perhaps cutting them a little slack is in order? Just my two cents 🙂

  12. Oh! One more thought…Suppose this curse renders Prince incapable of making moral choices? Incapable of the self-restraint we all probably would have liked him to show – at least until he finds the truth? I mean, who knows what nastiness might have gone into it? Bad business, curses. Ok – I'm done now. 🙂

  13. I agree that he shouldn't be swinging both ways – it tarnishes his 'hero' quality. Mary Margaret/Snow White isn't perfect either – it does take two to kiss.However, the show reveals that he never married Katherine and Mary Margaret is wearing the wedding ring his mother gave him for his wife.So, either he should leave Katherine to find out later they were never really married, or put his feelings for Mary Margaret aside IMO. But, as I think the point of the show is – this ain't no fairytale and there isn't any easy morally-right answer to many of the dilemnas they face.

  14. Such a good post! And I am totally on board with your way of thinking. The idea of marriage as God intended it has been so perverted, liberalized. As if marriage itself has become a sort of trial run. Ehh! Every time I watch a movie like 'Something Borrowed' (no- I didn't like it either), or read a book that involves some sort of infidelity I literally get queasy. It's sad but it is actually one of the main reasons why I don't much care for fiction that involves married people. I know there has to be conflict to propel the story but even christian fiction always portrays these devastated and fractured marriages of miserable counterparts contemplating affairs and divorce. It seriously depresses me. These people obviously don't grasp God's vision of marriage. Marriage is where the real fun begins.

  15. Wow! What am I missing here? I've never seen the show but now I'm second guessing my choice to avoid that one…sounds interesting although I'm more of a reality TV gal. Do you watch The Bachelor? Oh, please tell me you do!!!! :):)

  16. Loving the comments!Janna– you're right–curses are nasty business. 😉 I'm familiar with the Catholic sacrament of marriage and the Church's stance on divorce and annulment…but I still think ole Princy doesn't have an excuse. In this case I think the writers have made him less "heroic" in the sense that he's willing to hurt someone to get what he wants. Uncool.Lisa- Agreed. Especially after the most recent episode. Mary Margaret/Snow is no angel. It definitely takes 2.Amy- glad you agree. I figured you would. :)Lacie- NOOOOOOOO. I can't stomach the bachelor. The morons on that show are living proof of what's wrong with our society's view of marriage. You watch for me. 🙂 lol.

  17. I haven't seen this show, never actually even heard of it, but it sounds like an interesting premise–to a point though!I agree with your moral compass quote and LOVED what you said about marriage being treated like a temporary condition, instead of a life-long vow.REALLY, REALLY good post. These kinds of shows are so hard, when they've got a good premise, but the morals throw it off.I love the NBC show Chuck (which just went off the air), but for SEASONS the hero and heroine lived together. Ugh. Really, really hate that. Coming together as man and wife happens AFTER the white dress, not before. I cheered when they finally got married. 😉 I've talked enough, but GREAT post, Jennifer. 🙂

  18. I'm so with you on this, Jenny. I love, love, love this show, but this plotline makes me cringe. When David found out his "wife" wasn't pregant, and he and MM kissed, my husband exclaimed, "What? It's all right because she isn't pregnant?" I'm very disappointed. I hope they give them more self-control in future episodes, but this is Hollywood, so I don't have too much hope.

  19. Casey- I loved Chuck, too! And I'm with you about Sarah & Chuck. And Zachary Levi is actually pretty open about his faith in Jesus, which is why it was sad to me that he was willing to compromise for that role. Hollywood. *sigh*Sarah & Shelly- I'm glad y'all agree. Seems a lot of female viewers of that show feel the way I do.

  20. I was so disappointed last episode (which is actually code for PISSED OFF!!). I watch this show with my daughter, and we talked heavily about how that episode and story line was wrong in so many ways! I was really angry after that episode. I mean what were the creators of that show thinking??

  21. Hmm. Well, considering we're all talking about this, and this is just one blog among millions…I think those producers are probably sitting back in their leather chairs listening to the CHACHING of money going into their bank accounts. Anybody who watches any television or movies or reads mainstream fiction should not be surprised. In fact, we should have expected it. The fact is, we're all going to say oh that's terrible, men shouldn't cheat on their wives, yadda yadda…and they shouldn't, but how many of us are actually going to STOP watching?? Just asking. I know I'm not. And there's the problem with this whole thing. We can call it what we want but we still like it. The dilemma is, we're saying it's not okay while still watching, which is saying it is. So I don't know. Kind of reminds me of that Casting Crowns song, What If HIs People Prayed. Oh, and Something Borrowed was dreadful. I read the book and refused to watch the movie. Shouldn't have finished the book, but I thought the writing was good.

  22. I'm always intrigued by where people draw the line in terms of what they will accept in a tv show or movie. For most of you, that appears to be marital infidelity. Which is completely understandable.But I haven't heard anyone point out that Henry actively disobeys his mother (another Biblical sin). Or that Emma Swan constantly toes the ethical line. Or how people (even the "good guys") lie.Don't get me wrong, I love OUAT. I appreciate morally murky situations. But I think if you're going to call out the moral issues, it's important to recognize your selectivity. Are you as offended when unmarried characters sleep together (an unfortunately common element in tv shows)? That's my two cents anyway.

  23. Pingback: Friday Favorites – the Short Edition « Shannyn Schroeder's Blog

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