Pop Culture

Happy Valentine's Day from 'House of Cards': Tips for a successful marriage

If you're looking for the perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day, forget Hallmark and tune into "House of Cards."

Netflix began premiering season two of the political thriller at midnight — all 13 episodes — on Cupid's busiest day of the year.

Their marriage may not conform to most people's romantic ideals, but it works for the Underwoods. In a town that equates success with power, Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) are each a formidable force; together they are unstoppable.

So before you pour yourself a scotch, cuddle up with your partner and grab the remote, let's take another peek behind Frank and Claire's closed doors and see what makes their marriage tick.

In sickness and in health: Claire is a fanatical runner, whose route usually takes her through a cemetery. Because the congressman doesn't lead the healthiest lifestyle, she bought him an antique rowing machine. She's outside racing toward death; he's in the basement, dripping with sweat and headed nowhere. But a healthy couple is a happy couple.

Cigarettes: Hollywood has glamorized lighting up after sex, but Frank and Claire don't do clichés. For them, smoking is their act of intimacy. When they share a cigarette in the bay window of their townhouse — like teenagers hiding the smoke from their parents — the couple discuss their power plays (his grab for the vice presidency, her ends-justify-the-means philanthropy), ruthless ambitions and infidelities.

Personal space: Every married couple needs some "me time," but maybe the Underwoods give each other too much breathing room. Frank's calculated affair with a journalist backfired when she learned too much; Claire punished her husband for his betrayal (not for sleeping with Zoe, but for excluding her from his schemes) by hooking up with an old flame.

DINKs: "Double income, no kids" is another key to the Underwoods' success. Where would they be if Claire hadn't had three abortions? (Frank doesn't spend much time wondering, but that question is plaguing his wistful wife.)

Flowers: The Underwoods may not go for hearts and chocolates, but a bouquet of blooms always says "I love you." When Frank asked Meacham to deliver some flowers to his wife, the fidgety secret service agent arranged them in a nice vase. And Claire isn't above making a delivery herself — to the dying agent Meacham replaced. (Of course, she also attempted to pleasure him under the sheets in one of the show's most unsettling scenes. Maybe flowers are overrated after all.

Happy Valentine's Day!