As you might've heard, season three of House of Cards kicks off on Netflix on 27 February. Which means that TV's King and Queen of Duplicity, Frank and Claire Underwood, are back. By the end of season two, after playing the long game, the Olympic standard manipulators finally got to where they'd always wanted to be - top of the tree at the White House.
The duo's ill-gotten success is partly down to the solidity of their marriage. But, if you judged their relationship by traditional standards, it isn't one you'd be hugely envious of.
Monogamy's usually the default setting in your average til death do us part situation. Yet it doesn't even make it on to their list of conjugal priorities. Season one saw Frank start an affair - with Claire's tacit approval - in order to secure a convenient way to leak information, and she went AWOL so she could spend time with her lover in New York.
There are also hints that, although Claire would've liked children, she and Frank agreed to give bringing their own bambinos into the world a miss. Choosing to be child free's not exactly big news. Though most couples tend not to base their decision on the fact that sleep deprivation and the school run will get in the way of plotting the President's downfall.
So far it's not sounding like Relate are going to be begging Mr and Mrs Underwood to front their next ad campaign any time soon. But you can't deny that Claire and Frank are 100% devoted to one another. And, in lots of ways, their set up's a lot hardier than its conventional counterparts. Here's why:
1. They make time to do things together - OK I'll admit that their quality time mostly consists of going for runs, smoking/vaping and scheming. But, despite their packed schedules, they manage to do all three on a regular basis
2. They're not afraid to ask for what they want directly - although they're masters of mind games, double bluffing and second guessing, Frank and Claire don't subject each other to this kind of treatment. Nagging and sulking aren't in their repertoires either.
3. Affairs aren't a deal breaker for them - they see single minded tenacity and emotional faithfulness as much more important than sexual fidelity (and so if an extra marital liaison can get them closer to their goal, then bring it on).
4. They understand each other - they know exactly what each other's motivations, capabilities and limitations are.
5. They support each other's dreams - there's none of that 'if you scratch my back' stuff in Underwood Towers. They're behind each other all the way (almost) all of the time.
6. They give as well as take - they're willing to put their plans on hold if the other's going to benefit.
7. They have faith in one another - they don't doubt each other's abilities or commitment.
8. They trust each other - they know what they stand for, and that they're not going to stitch each other up.
9. They respect each other - they genuinely admire each other, and are proud of their strengths and achievements.
10. They have a shared mission - granted it's one which has a negative impact on the wellbeing of most people who come into contact with them. But their joint plan fuses them together and transcends everything, and everyone, else.