The Tanners entered into a loveless marriage on 4th October 1939 when Arnold got sixteen-year-old Elsie pregnant. Despite the lack of affection between them, Arnold rented No.11 and moved in with Elsie as they prepared for the baby. As a rent collector, Arnold was not a popular figure in the Coronation Street, but his stay was brief as after the beginning of World War II Arnold signed up for military service.
During Arnold's time overseas, he was well aware that Elsie had spent the intervening time entertaining men friends, and had received correspondence from local gossip Ena Sharples informing him about her relationship with American GI Steve Tanner, among other men. In 1941 he returned while Elsie was in bed with a soldier, and seriously beat the man, then raped Elsie (resulting in Dennis' conception). The next morning, Elsie warned him off with a shotgun.
He returned again briefly in 1945, wounded and a shadow of his former imposing self. Elsie let him stay while he recuperated, and he left on better terms with Elsie - although he took half of Elsie's money without her knowledge. After the war, Arnold left the household for good and after 1946 did not see his family again until 1961.
When Dennis happened to run into Arnold at the Orinoco Club in December 1960, Arnold owned his own shop and was wanting to marry Norah Dawson. He used the opportunity to visit Elsie and ask for a divorce - Elsie refused at first but Arnold let her know he could force her hand as he knew about her wartime romance with Steve Tanner.
- Additional information on Arnold from 1939-1945 was found in Coronation Street at War by Daran Little and The Way to Victory by Christine Green.