Before Montag meets Clarisse, he lives a mundane, meaningless life and is comfortable being married to Mildred. While the couple never had a fulfilling, passionate relationship, Montag saw no reason to alter his lifestyle or change any aspect of his life. He is essentially comfortably numb in Bradbury's dystopian society and does not experience any issues with Mildred. After meeting Clarisse, Montag realizes that he is not in love with Mildred and understands the importance of changing the trajectory of their lives. Montag fears that his wife is heading down a destructive path and encourages her to turn off her parlour walls and stop taking sleeping pills. Montag also suggests that Mildred read some of his illegal literature and help him find the important answers to life that he has been seeking. However, Mildred does not share her husband's enthusiasm for literature and is completely content living a mundane, superficial life. Montag desperately attempts to change his wife's perspective and even scares her by reading poetry aloud in front of her friends. However, Mildred refuses to see eye-to-eye with Montag and calls in an alarm on him. Even though Montag is not in love with Mildred, he has sympathy for her and mourns her death when the nuclear bomb destroys the city. Essentially, Montag goes from being comfortably numb in his relationship with Mildred to experiencing a feeling of desperation and longing to have a loving, fulfilling marriage with her.
At first, since Montag has no reason to change his thought patterns, his relationship with his wife Mildred is steady and calm; they share a house and bed, and while Montag is not as obsessed with the enormous television screens as Mildred is, he doesn't begrudge them to her. However, after he is exposed to a radically different mode of thinking through Clarisse, their relationship suffers. He starts talking about ideas not accepted by society. He starts secretly bringing books home. Mildred escapes further and further into her television, refusing to listen to his new ideas. Eventually, when his actions humiliate her in front of their few human friends, she reports him to the fire station, guaranteeing that his books will be burned. When the city is bombed, Montag feels a great sorrow for her assumed death because he was never able to make her understand his new feelings. He wanted to share his changes with her, but she pushed him away.