Study Guide

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Marriage

By Raymond Carver


"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" features two married couples having a conversation about love. Nick and Laura are newlyweds and have been together about a year and a half. Mel and Terri have been together five years and they've been married for four. The two couples' married lives are compared and contrasted subtly. Laura and Nick's marriage is shown as easy, joyful and uncomplicated. Mel and Terri's is loving, but also a lot messier. But whether happy or unhappy, no two marriages look alike, especially in a Raymond Carver story.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Do you think Laura and Nick's marriage will stand the test of time? Mel and Terri's?
  2. How does Mel's relationship with his ex-wife influence his ideas about love? How does it affect his marriage with Terri?
  3. In this story, what does marriage have to do with love, if anything? Do they go together like a horse and carriage?Ā 

Chew on This

In this story, love and marriage have nothing to do with each other. It's clear that Mel never loved Marjorie, but he married her anyway.

The lesson of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" is that without good communication, a marriage won't last. Which is why Terri and Mel's marriage won't last.