Although Jo Seok-moo (Cha Tae-hyun) and Kang Hwi-roo (Bae Doo-na) were divorced, they continued to live together, partly because they had not informed their respective parents, as well as to save on house rentals. Seok-mu also tried very hard to change himself, to be less sensitive towards cleanliness and orderliness and to be more empathizing to the needs of Hwi-roo. Hwi-roo made friend with Im Si-ho (Wi Ha-joon), who was similar to Hwi-roo in many ways, including their preferences, disorganized living habits. This led to Si-ho developing feelings for Hwi-roo.
Through Si-ho, Hwi-roo also came to understand Seok-moo’s feelings when dealing with her “unpleasant habits”, as well as that Seok-moo still held a special place heart. When Hwi-roo decided to let Seok-moo know about her true feelings, she realised that Seok-moo was happier when talking about his ex-girlfriend, Jin Yoo-young (Le El). Heartbroken but determined to let Seok-moo to lead a happy life, Hwi-roo chose to move out of the house into the publishing company that was going to published her children book.
Hwi-roo’s children book was based on the story between Seok-moo and her, which also let Seok-moo understand their story from Hwi-roo’s perspective. Although both still had feelings for each other, they refused to say anything. In contrast, their parents wanted to bring them together again, so Seok-moo’s parents took them to visit Hwi-roo’s parents to apologize for their divorce. Seok-moo needed to return to Seoul first that night, and Hwi-roo initially just wanted to walk him to the station, ended up accompanying Seok-moo all the way to Seoul (to the delight of the parents).
On the other hand, Yoo-young thought she was married to Lee Jang-hyun (Son Seok-goo) and was quietly tolerating Jang-hyun’s philandering ways. When she realized that Jang-hyun did not file for their marriage (so they were not legally married), she initially thought of quietly submitting the application form without his knowledge. However, when Jang-hyun ended his relationships with all the other women to truly stayed by Yoo-young’s side, Yoo-young rejected his proposal to get married, and chased him out of the house.
With nowhere to go, and determined to end ties with the other women, Jang-hyun went to stay at Seok-moo’s house since Seok-moo was his only friend. During this time, Seok-moo was worried that Yoo-young was not living well (to Seok-moo, Yoo-young starting to jog in the morning was an indicator of unwell), so Seok-moo frequently asked Yoo-young out for dinner. Yoo-young then found out that she was pregnant, so Jang-hyun begged her to let him take care of her and their baby, stating that he was willing to wait even if Yoo-young did not love him anymore. Although Yoo-young allowed Jang-hyun to return, she still feel uneasy whenever Jang-hyun was working late, even though Jang-hyun would report to her all the people he met. It was until Yoo-young’s mother apologized to her for the emotional traumas caused by making Yoo-young see her father’s extramarital affairs did Yoo-young had a closure in her wounded heart and finally truly accepted that Jang-hyun was indeed sincere in marrying her.
A year later, Yoo-young and Jang-hyun are happily married with a son, while Seok-moo and Hwi-roo, though still unmarried, are living together with occasional bickering and making up soon after that.
According to Sternberg’s triangle theory of love, love is made up of 3 components: passion, intimacy and commitment. If the marriage only contained commitment, then it is considered as an empty love. It will be most wonderful if the marriage is based consummate love, which contained all 3 components of love. Sadly to say, one of the main reasons that led marriages to end up into divorces is that passion and/or intimacy had diminished. Strangely enough, most people got married due to love, so why does love wear out while living together in a marriage?
Contrary to other dramas on rocky marriages where the leads realized their root problems and worked hard to resolve their problem to save their marriages, Matrimonial chaos presented a more realistic views of marriages and divorces. Changes take time and effort to be made, and it has to be from both parties. No one is able to say who is more right or more wrong, sometimes arguments simply stemmed from both parties insisting of looking at things from their own perspectives. We all come from different family backgrounds and have different personalities and life experiences, therefore it is natural for each of us to have different perspectives.
In order for a couple to live together with differences, both need to learn to compromise, and most importantly to understand that compromising is not shortchanging anyone to be on the losing end, neither is it to give in to requests repeatedly without any reason. Just like the case of Seok-moo and Hwi-roo, it required Seok-moo to be less picky on orderliness in the house and Hwi-roo to be more conscious in tidying things after use for them to live in harmony. Yet, like in the last scene where Seok-moo made harsh comments just because Hwi-roo used the wrong colored dishcloth to clean the dining table, there are times when people forget to compromise. In those cases, I guess we should be forgiving but still firmly let the other party know that the behaviour is hurting and therefore not acceptable.
I also like how this drama explore the complicated human relationships between individuals. In Asian countries, family relationships are very much valued, and therefore people often said that marriage between a couple is equivalent to marriage between 2 families. Following divorce, it is really important or needed to sever all ties between the 2 families? Seok-moo’s grandmother in this drama was actually his step-grandmother, who also had divorced Seok-moo’s paternal grandfather, which implied that Seok-moo was no longer related to his grandmother by law. However, Seok-moo still liked this grandmother very much, not only in contact with her frequently, but also took care of her when she was sick. Likewise, Hwi-roo also had a close relationship with Seok-moo’s grandmother as they went curling together frequently. This led Hwi-roo to be reluctant to drift away from Grandma even after Seok-moo and her had divorced. Personally, I think even after divorce, contacts with ex’s families is still possible as long as the relationships are healthy and harmonious.
The relationship between Yoo-young and Jang-hyun was far more complicated than Seok-moo and Hwi-roo, I was initially puzzled why Yoo-young chose to keep quiet about Jang-hyun affairs, which was later revealed that it was still to her childhood trauma that her beloved father had been cheating on her mother. The reason Jang-hyun sought sexual relationships with so many women was also due to emotional trauma where a girl he liked rejected him after “eloping” with him, so he kind of firmly believed he was unable to bring happiness to girl he liked. Fortunately, both Jang-hyun and Yoo-young were able to untie the knot in their heart with timely apology from his first love and her mother respectively, otherwise I really cannot imagine how these two wounded individuals will be able to live together even if they have a child between them.
Overall, despite the low ratings, I find this drama is rather easy to watch. Although there can be arguments and unhappiness while portraying conflicts in marriages and human relationships, it is still comforting to watch this show, as well as giving us time and room to reflect on our ways. As the show accurately pointed out, we tend to take people closest to us for granted, always expecting them to compromise for our favors while we may not make any changes. Hopefully, after watching this drama, we will treasure people closest to us more dearly, since “the crayon we like the best will always be used up first”.