Warning: Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Roseanne, "Darlene V. David." Look away if you haven't caught up yet!
The Roseanne revival has been a wealth of information about what the Conners have been up to in the past couple of decades, but one thing we've been left in the dark on is what happened with Darlene and David. When the show finally returned to the airwaves a few weeks ago, it was revealed that Darlene and her two kids with David, Harris and Mark, had moved back to the family home in Lanford from Chicago after she lost her job. And, it was also abundantly clear that David wasn't really a part of their lives. Well, now we know why, and it's pretty sad. It turns out that after many years of trying to make things work between them, Darlene and David's relationship is simply broken. Here's what happened.
When Roseanne, Mary, Darlene and Harris are grocery shopping, a clerk tells Darlene that Harris has abused a bunch of cakes in the bakery, and when Darlene gets a text from David a few minutes later, she realizes that he had already sent word to Harris that he was planning to come see her for her birthday the next day. Unfortunately, we find out that David is such a deadbeat dad that this news actually upset Harris (hence the cakes), because since leaving Darlene he's only shown up three times when he said he would. Roseanne says that she thinks David will actually show this time, and Darlene realizes that she's been talking to him behind her back and giving him updates on Darlene. We're also told that David has been spending his time away from the family building houses for the poor in third world countries, so he's rarely even in the same country as his kids.
True to his word (at least this time) David knocks on Darlene's bedroom window later that night, in an effort to avoid Dan. After she lets him in, he eventually tells Darlene that he's moving back to Lanford so he can be close to the kids. Darlene initially thinks he wants to get back together, because they've tried many times to make their marriage work, but he quickly notes that he's met someone and she's convinced him that he needs to get things right with his family, including being around for his kids and finally giving Darlene a divorce so she can be allowed to move on.
Darlene tells David she might not want a divorce because she's not completely sure how she feels about him right now, which leads to her jumping him and them having sex. The next morning, David tells Darlene he left because Mark had just died and he was overwhelmed by parental responsibilities. After some sweet lovey dovey talk, though, they're back to arguing, which reveals even more of the cracks in their relationship, but they both resolve to try again.
When Darlene fills Roseanne in on the fact that she had sex with David and is going to give the marriage another shot, Roseanne tells her that she'd just wanted her to give David another chance as a father, not as a husband, because the two of them are a disaster together. When Darlene tries to stick up for him by relaying the information he gave her on why he left, Roseanne says David had actually told her that he really left because of all the fights he and Darlene always had. This prompts Darlene to talk to Becky about it, who tells her she "loves David, but you guys have been going at this for 20 years and if it was going to work it would have by now. Grieve and get on with your life."
When David comes back later for Harris' birthday party, Darlene tells him a reunion won't work out and notes that if it were just them, she'd be willing to do the "we fight, you run" cycle over and over forever, but since they have to think about the kids' feelings, she can't do it anymore. When she shows him out we get another bombshell when David asks what Mark is like, meaning that he's been largely absent from their lives the whole time the boy has been alive.
In the end, it looks like the back and forth nature of Darlene and David's relationship from the initial run of Roseanne continued after their marriage. For whatever reason, even though they still love each other, they just aren't good together and can't really make things work as a family, which might be sadder than an actual event breaking them apart.