In a series of short vignettes by John Cheever published as "Three Stories", a man takes an aisle seat in the 707 bound for Rome. The plane is not quite full and there is an empty seat between him and the window seat which is taken by a remarkably good-looking woman. His polite "good evening" is ignored. After emitting a discouraging mumble, she lifts a book straight in front of her face, and when he, seeking a clue to start a conversation, tries to decipher the title, the woman conceals it with her hand. He then opens a conservative newspaper, believing that shy women are turned on by such papers, but her indifference continues; and when she goes to the toilet she takes her book with her, in order to deprive him of the most minuscule hint about herself and her intellect.
Perhaps he reminds her of someone she dislikes, of someone who wounded her, or perhaps she is just a sulky, unhappy person. But when the stewardess comes by to offer tea or coffee, she jumps like a happy cricket as she chooses the latter. Her dazzling smile gives him hope, and when she resumes reading he wishes he could have a foot in the door. When he politely enquires: "May I ask you what you're reading?" she says: "No." When the meal is served she realizes that she has no salt and asks the man if she can trouble him for his. He detects some warmth in her voice: things are definitely looking up. The woman then watches a movie and accompanies the scenes with intermittent musical laughs, and afterwards she settles for the night. In the morning, when they are approaching their destination, he asks her "Did you sleep well?" and she frowns, appearing to find the question impertinent. She then puts her mysterious book in her bag and starts disembarking, while he follows her down the aisle and through passport control. But what's happening now? He takes her bags, they go together towards the taxi stand, and they board the same cab. "He is her husband, she is his wife, the mother of his children, and a woman he has worshipped passionately for nearly thirty years."
Not all marriages require such degree of stoicism, although it is not only in the sense of endurance that I am using the term. Stoics defend the basis of human society by appealing to human nature, and because individuals seek the company of others, forming families and communities, they regard these as sacred and devote themselves to their stability. The stoic husband of Cheever's story does not relate his actions to his own interest, but to the interest of those around him, and he chooses to play his part well and steadfastly in the cosmic drama.