Externally, the relationship between Karenin and Anna appears the same as ever. Internally, however, he is vexed and feels chilly toward her. Even though Karenin is extremely subtle and intelligent in his business affairs, he puts blinders on in terms of regarding his relationship with his wife. Countess Lydia, who spends the summer in the same country area as the Karenins, refuses to visit Anna and hints to Karenin about the inappropriateness of Anna’s relationship with Vronsky.
Like Vronsky, who is able to maintain external appearances despite inner turmoil, the relationship between Anna and Karenin appears the same on the outside although it has changed internally. Karenin is very subtle and smart about matters of business, but not about manners of love. Countess Lydia, whom Anna has slighted in favor of Betsy, is jealous and is poised for the scandal to break out.
Karenin makes it a point to go to the country once a week. He also makes it a point to go to the races to keep up appearances. Unconsciously, however, he has made it a point to have a third party present during interactions with his wife. In the morning, before he leaves the city for the country, a doctor tells Karenin that he is too stressed and says that Karenin will reach a breaking point soon.
Karenin’s primary concern is keeping up appearances and maintaining his reputation in society at all costs. However, relations between himself and Anna are decidedly strained. And although Karenin keeps up appearances, all is not well: unhealthy stress lurks just below the surface.