Warning: Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. Feel free to look away until you've caught up!
Romantic relationships on The Big Bang Theory have continued to offer up a lot of laughs to fans over the course of almost 12 full seasons. Penny's hotter than Leonard. Poor Raj is hopeless with pretty much everyone he dates. Amy has a strong libido, but Sheldon can only stand to have sex once a year. You get the picture. But, the most recent episode just proved that, funny though they may be, Howard and Bernadette actually have the best marriage on the show. Mainly, this is because we have now been shown that Howard totally gets his wife and what she needs, and is willing to let her have it even when it means more work for him. Here's what happened.
At the beginning of the episode, everyone is over at Howard and Bernadette's house to help them build a playhouse for Halley in the backyard. After the work week has gotten underway, though, a stressed out Bernadette comes home to the sound of Howard screaming at Halley and baby Neil as he tries to change their son and keep their toddler daughter from putting the dirty diaper on her head.
Instead of rushing into the house to help Howard out, Bernadette quickly turns and runs away from the front door. She calls Howard and tells him that she's actually behind at work and is going to have to stay longer to wrap some things up, but we see that she's really hiding out in the newly build playhouse in their backyard. She's not gleefully taking a break, though, because when she gets off the phone, Bernadette sighs and says, "he deserves better."
A couple of days later, Penny is in Bernadette's office at work, trying to regale her with tales of how Leonard's new decisive attitude is really sexy, but she can see that Bernadette is not really into the conversation. Bernadette then asks Penny if she's ever told Leonard a white lie, and reveals that she's been telling Howard she has to work late all that week, while hiding out in the playhouse.
Bernadette has been spending an hour a night in the backyard playhouse, hiding from Howard and the kids. She tells Penny that she just feels like she needs the time alone right after work, and doesn't feel like coming home to having kids hanging off of her and playing with her flabby belly, and otherwise dealing with family responsibilities after an already long day.
As you can imagine, Penny thinks it's weird that Bernadette is just hiding in her own yard, but once Leonard goes back to his indecisive ways, she decides to join Bernadette in the playhouse. This leads to Amy sniffing out the fact that the two of them are hanging out without her, and to all three of them drinking wine in the playhouse and making mini pizzas in the Easy-Bake Oven.
As the three are in there one night, though, Howard and Raj come out to use the hot tub. While the ladies are trying to be quiet, the oven timer dings, and Raj tells Howard that he thinks someone is in the playhouse. This is when Howard reveals that he figured out what Bernadette was doing days ago, but he let her keep hiding and was totally willing to, not only, pretend that she was actually at work, but keep taking care of the kids by himself for another hour.
Howard notes that Bernadette just needs a break, because he knows he and the kids "can be a lot sometimes." When Raj asks why Howard hasn't said anything, he answers simply, "Because that's how marriage works." Awwww. Really, how sweet is that?
With all the sniping, actual fighting and making fun of one another that the couples on The Big Bang Theory do on a regular basis, it's good to see that Howard really understands what Bernadette needs, especially since she just got back to work after having her second child in a short period of time. And, I feel like this selfless gesture from Howard proves that he and Bernadette have the best marriage on the show, by far.
Now, to be completely fair to the duos that are Sheldon, Amy, Leonard and Penny, Howard and Bernadette have been married the longest, so they have had more time to work out some of the natural kinks that could show up to plague total newlyweds like Sheldon and Amy, or those who have only been married a couple of years like Penny and Leonard.
But, having kids could have really upended any compromises or understandings that Bernadette and Howard had previously come to, and it seems to have only made Howard (at the very least) stronger and better and the whole husbanding thing.
Plus, let's look at the facts of the other two marriages on the show. Penny and Leonard's relationship was always pretty lopsided. He fell in love with her at first sight, and she had to been sort of...worn down and shown time and again that Leonard was much better than the jerks and assorted doofs that she generally dated. Even with Penny fully admitting that she's loved him for a long time, she still sort of seems above the whole marriage.
Also, in general, they still don't feel like the best fit. Recent weeks have shown that Leonard really wants kids, while Penny has never wanted them and is reluctant to budge on the issue. Plus, tonight's episode showed that Penny gets really turned on when Leonard takes control over his life and makes strong choices. But, even though he could see that she was enjoying this side of him, he went right back to being wishy washy several minutes before the episode was over, prompting Penny to hide herself away with Bernadette to avoid dealing with Leonard's normal personality.
As for Sheldon and Amy, well, that guy's just a constant project. It seems like every time Amy and Sheldon come to some agreement and it looks like she's finally got all his idiosyncrasies figured out, he does something totally wrongheaded like get her taken off of her own research at work. Sheldon obviously loves Amy, and he's clearly come a long way since they first met and began dating, but he still doesn't understand her (or people in general) enough to fully be there for her on a regular basis without a lot of instruction.
Meanwhile, Howard might be a big dork who rocks a bowl cut, wears his pants too tight and sports belt buckles large enough to knock out an MMA fighter; and Bernadette might be mean, own way too many shrunken cardigans and have a voice capable of peeling paint off the walls, but these two get each other. And, that means a lot.
You can keep up with all the lovingly odd couples on The Big Bang Theory every Thursday on CBS at 8 p.m. EST.