For families to function well, the narrator tells the reader, spouses must either be in complete discord or complete harmony. Anna and Vronsky are in an uncomfortable middle state. Both want to leave Moscow and live in the country, but they can’t get anything done. Anna thinks that Vronsky’s love for her has diminished, and she’s jealous: not of any individual other woman in particular, but of the diminishing love. She’s afraid he may marry someone else, and she’s most jealous of all when Vronsky says that his mother is trying to insist he marry a society princess. Her jealousy makes Anna blame Vronsky for everything difficult in her situation.
Anna and Vronsky have never built a deep, subconscious, bond with each other, and without a strong foundation that goes beyond words, they will never be able to function harmoniously as a family. Their dilemma is expressed physically by their geographic indecisiveness: neither wants to stay in Moscow, yet they cannot agree to go to the country, and so they remain in a physical and emotional purgatory.
Anna and Vronsky have quarreled over the education of the little English girl Anna is caring for. Vronsky calls Anna’s interest in the girl “unnatural,” which makes Anna furious, and she spirals into all the insecurities of her jealousy, thinking that Vronsky is behaving this way because he’s in love with another woman. But eventually, Anna calms herself down, telling herself that Vronsky loves her and that the divorce will come.
Subconsciously, Anna is so zealous about the English girl in guilty compensation for not loving her own daughter enough and for abandoning Seryozha. Anna’s nerves are in an extremely heightened emotional state, and everything Vronsky does sends her into paroxysms of jealousy—after a time, however, even she can recognize that her emotions are unwarranted.