An Ideal Husband
How we cite our quotes:
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. Arthur, I couldn't tell my wife. […] She would have turned from me in horror . . . in horror and in contempt. (2.3)
Sir Robert's fear drives him further and further away from the ideal of the honest, forthright husband. He gets to the point where he no longer knows how to be a husband to his wife, ideal or not.
LADY MARKBY: He always seems to think that he is addressing the House, and consequently whenever he discusses the state of the agricultural labourer, or the Welsh Church, or something quite improper of that kind, I am obliged to send all the servants out of the room. (2.242)
Lady Markby uses her husband's foibles as conversational fodder and social currency.
LADY MARKBY: Ah, I forgot, your husband is an exception. Mine is the general rule, and nothing ages a woman so rapidly as having married the general rule. (2.276)
Most of the women in the play reinforce the image of Sir Robert as the perfect husband. Maybe that pressure makes it harder for Lady Chiltern to accept the truth.