By the time A Raisin in the Sun opens, Walter and Ruth have been married eleven years, and their relationship seems rather strained. Walter is a dreamer; he always has some scheme up his sleeve, and he makes sure that his wife and the rest of the family know all about it. This time, he wants to open a liquor store with a couple "friends." It will take money, lots of money, and he has his eye on the insurance check that Mama is about to receive. Walter wants Ruth to talk to Mama about it on his behalf. He flatters. He wheedles. But he isn't very good at either. Nor are his protests that his wife doesn't "back him up" like wives are supposed to effective.
Ruth is just plain weary. She has listened to her husband over and over and over again for the past eleven years. When he claims that she isn't listening, she exclaims that she has listened to him every single day. He just never says anything new. She already knows what is going to come out of his mouth. Her focus is on raising their son and helping the family as best she can. She has little time for her husband's wild ideas or the fact, as she says, that he would much rather be Mr. Arnold than Mr. Arnold's chauffeur. She also has little time for Walter's "friends," whom she calls good-for-nothing loud mouths. She knows that they are leading him down the wrong path, and she is rather bitter about it. It seems that her life with Walter has always been something of a struggle, and she tells him quite a few times to leave her alone.
The couple's interactions with their son also show the tension between them. When Travis asks Ruth for fifty cents, she refuses. He doesn't really need it, and the family doesn't have it to spare. But then Walter comes along and gives him the money and another fifty cents along with, completely undermining his wife's authority, which must be frustrating for her. Walter seems to have little sense of responsibility when it comes to money, and Ruth is probably concerned about the example he is setting for their son.