Every couple has its ups and downs, but they should both ultimately do what’s best for the relationship in the long term at the end of the day. Looking back at the series, it often feels like Lily didn’t get that memo. While you can tell she cares deeply for Marshall, it doesn’t stop her from doing some pretty terrible things to him over the show’s run. It’s hard to forget the Season 1 finale when Lily broke up with Marshall and absconded to San Francisco to pursue an art career. That was the moment that soured viewers on Lily for quite a while.
Even though Lily could be bubbly and fun, there were still plenty of other moments after her big break-up with Marshall one could view as questionable. She made him get a job he hated at GNB after she racked up loads of credit card debt (without his knowledge). She even considered leaving the country without him because she was upset he took a different job that made him happier. As a whole, there’s one plot point, in particular, that’s arguably even worse than her Season 1 betrayal.
Lily manipulated Marshall repeatedly throughout How I Met Your Mother
No one’s saying Marshall was a perfect partner, but he gave Lily many chances after she frequently dropped the ball. When looking at her actions as a whole, her argument with Marshall in Season 9, where they debate moving to Italy, takes the cake.
It all comes to a head in “Unpause,” where the two finally hash things out. For context, Marshall accepted a position as a judge (his dream job) because his prospective employer needed an answer right away. His decision went against what he had already decided with Lily, which was to move to Italy for a year as she pursues her job as an art consultant. Marshall took the job without talking to Lily first, which was definitely ill-advised, but his back was against a wall. It doesn’t excuse Lily’s behavior during the argument where she said that Marshall agreeing to the judgeship was more selfish than anything she had done to him.
When looking at the entirety of their relationship, Lily has done a lot of hurtful things. She moved to San Francisco, almost left for Paris, and forced Marshall to get a job he hated to pay off her debt. The argument could’ve been a moment of growth for Lily where she finally sets aside her wants and does something selflessly for her husband. She doesn’t, and Marshall eventually relents. He gives up the position, and the two move to Italy.
A flash-forward shows that the two come back to New York, and Marshall gets another opportunity to be a judge. But in “Unpause,” he had no way of knowing he would receive a second chance. Lily didn’t know that either, but she only thinks about what she would like once again.