You're basically recapping a conversation I had with my husband this morning.
Full transparency, my husband looks like an even more Sicilian-American Adam Scott, which makes me extremely biased towards him and every character he plays. The fact that Ed's personality is frighteningly close to my own husband's (IRL...but less smug) -- and I'm no Madelyn, but I am a lot more like her the any of the other Monterey 5 -- means that their fictional marriage problems are causing me a lot of real-world distress. To be clear, there has never been a single incident of infidelity in our fifteen years together, and yet the show makes me wonder...what if there was? How would we behave?
It turns out, not very differently from those two.
While I do not forgive Madelyn for betraying my husb - (oops!) Ed, I also do not approve of his behavior in the aftermath of finding out. I asked my actual husband this morning, "So, what's your take on how Ed's been treating Madelyn? Do you think he is trying to torment her?" He replied, "Yes. He's definitely punishing her. Absolutely. The part that I think sucks the most, though, is that he doesn't seem to know what to do next. He should just leave -- it's not fair to her, and I don't think staying in the house is helping him figure out whether or not he wants to end the marriage. Trouble is, he's been so consumed by his adulation of her, he really can't make himself let go. I guess it's what you call a dilemma." (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist). To further the gist, my husband said he would probably stick around to make me feel like shit, but not for long. He seems to recognize that it's not doing Ed any good to be there.
Madelyn's relentless attempts to normalize the conflict by aggressively addressing the elephant in the room -- that's me. I can see myself making similar overtures, were I in her position (let's get away together, more therapy, do you hate me, don't be mean to me, can't we deal with this and move on....you get the picture...). She's betrayed her husband in a way that she can't fix. But what she hasn't done yet -- and what I think Ed is waiting around to hear -- is why she cheated on him. Like really. Why? Well, here's the real issue: Maddie's answer to that question sucks so much that I'm not sure she can say it without losing him forever. She did it because she thought she could get away with it. She took her marriage for granted -- her husband's adulation rubbing the wrong way against her, "I'm not good enough; I'm a failure; I don't deserve to be cherished" self-narrative -- that her behavior looks a lot more like self-sabotage, than a plain reading suggests.
Madelyn is right, the problem is with her. But I don't know if she realizes the extent of how her low self-esteem played a part in her betrayal. And for what it's worth, I do think that's what the therapist was getting at in their singular session -- just not very effectively. The main difference between Madelyn and I is that I've been to therapy, to a decidedly more effective end. But I get it. It's hard to accept love when you feel unlovable. And sometimes protecting that flawed sense of self makes a person do terrible, hurtful, stupid-ass things.