Beth Felker Jones on FX’s The Americans–Fake marriage, real kids

As they enact a marriage for their kids and their neighbors, their “real” lives as spies sometimes require actions incompatible with their cover. They are meant to have an understanding, for instance, that each will use sex with other people as a tool for their missions, but this arrangement creates inevitable problems for their relationship. A hidden identity is a hard thing to nourish, and an identity embodied in habit and practice is a harder thing to disavow.

The storyline plays with the tensions created when there is a difference between identity and self-presentation, between hidden purpose and what one shows to the world. The house, the marriage and the kids may be meant as a cover, but it turns out that when you live with someone for years on end, when you care for children from diapers to braces, your daily life will threaten to become your real life.

Scripture speaks of the way domestic life shapes who we are and how we worship when the Lord commands Israel not to “enter into marriage” with those who “will surely incline your heart to follow their gods’” (1 Kings 11:2). When King Solomon flouts this command and clings to his foreign wives in love, his “heart is turned” and he is “not true to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4)….

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