Marriage Before Romance

"So… how does a fellow ask his own wife to marry him…?"

Maybe it is an Arranged Marriage, maybe an Accidental Marriage, maybe it is a Marriage of Convenience like a Citizenship Marriage or a Mail-Order Bride. Or it's just a stupid mistake. But whatever the case, our couple has been married for non-romantic reasons, and they may see it as a temporary thing, or a thing to get over with and ignore as much as possible.

Instead, they start to fall in love.

This is an easy way to turn the normal tension in a Romance plot on its head, and the trope lends itself very well to Romantic Comedy. It is very easy for the people around the newly-wedded couple to have, form, and get all sorts of mistaken impressions. Or impressions that are correct when formed, but invalid a few days later. Or receive mixed messages from the married couple.

Proponents of Arranged Marriage loop in this trope to justify the practice to their Marry for Love-minded friends. Most studies on the subject paint it as Truth in Television. Indeed, this trope seems to have been the (expected) norm for much of human history.

Compare Perfectly Arranged Marriage, which is focused on a young couple being forced into a relationship but discover romantic feelings even before the Arranged Marriage can take place. Also compare It Meant Something to Me and Becoming the Mask. Note that this trope is Newer Than They Think, since it presupposes that attempting to Marry for Love is the norm.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • San and Nagasumi's marriage in My Bride Is a Mermaid. After Sun (a mermaid) saves Nagasumi from drowning, mermaid law forces him to either marry into her family or be killed. Naturally, he chooses the former option, and a recurring theme in the series is how despite being initially forced together by circumstance they grow into people who truly care about each other. On two occasions, one formally proposes to the other and each time it is accepted.
  • In Ranma ½ the title character is betrothed to Akane while they are both teenagers, and although it's clear that there is a potential for romance between them, romantic progress is constantly derailed by Not What It Looks Like situations, other fiancees, a curse that makes Ranma turn into a girl when splashed with cold water, other martial artists coming after Ranma and/or Akane and, most often, the two's own egos. Although the relationship never developed beyond Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments and a denied Anguished Declaration of Love, the ending does imply that they will get married of their own will eventually.
  • In Please Teacher! high school student Kei Kusanagi marries the alien who is posing as his home room teacher in order to protect her secret identity. They move in together and quickly fall in love with each other.
  • In Ah! My Goddess franchise the main character, Keiichi Morisato encounters a goddess who will grant one wish to him. He wishes that she stay with him forever. As far as the universe is concerned from that point on, the two are effectively married. They couldn't leave one another if they tried. In the process of finding a place to live and domestic life they fall in love with one another but as of the current storyline have not had an official wedding.
    • The manga ends with Beldandy and Keichi being officially married by Beldandy's mother after they pass the trial, and that's when Keichi is told, straight up, that the wording of his wish in chapter one is explicitly a marriage proposal.
  • Stepping on Roses has Sumi Kitamura and Soichirou Ashida marrying only out of convenience: Soichirou needed to get married so he could properly inherit his fortune, Sumi needed money to save her family from destitution. One of the core ideas of the story is seeing whether they'll swear or not by this trope, nevermind their massive cultural and personality clashes and all the cap the plot throws at poor Sumi. They do.
  • In Hapi Mari the main couple gets thrown into an Arranged Marriage, but end up falling in love with each other.
  • A variation takes place in Anatolia Story. Near the start of the series, Kail saves Yuri from being made into a Human Sacrifice by pretending he slept with her and thus making her unusable. From there, the two have to pretend she's his concubine (which pretty much means being his wife all but on paper) so he can protect her from his evil stepmother's murder attempts. The two play the part at first, but remain distant as they anticipate sending Yuri home soon. They do fall in love for real, though. After Yuri chooses to stay with Kail, the rest of the manga is about them trying to overcome obstacles so they can be married legally.
  • In A Bride's Story, most of the arranged marriages shown on-screen are this to one degree or another (though it is made very clear that not every arranged marriage ends happily). Amir and Karluk are the most obvious example, being happily engaged despite the eight-year age difference.
  • Albert and Eugenie's arranged marriage in Gankutsuou. Within about a dozen episodes, the two are well and truly in love. Too bad both got broken later.
  • This is the entire premise for the popular manhwa Goong.
  • Played with in a story in Pet Shop of Horrors. The ghost of a queen tells Count D about how she and her husband were betrothed as children, hated each other for much of their marriage, and cheated on each other constantly. She then fell deathly ill for a period of time and, when she recovered, found her husband at her side. That incident made them realize how much they cared for each other and they were faithful and loving to each other from that day onward.
  • In Fate/Zero, Irisviel and Kiritsugu are happily married, despite their union initially being part of the arrangement for Kiritsugu to work for the Einzbern family. Their relationship is even happier in the much more light-hearted Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA.
  • The World is Still Beautiful has the Sun King Livius ask the Rain Principality to send him one of their princesses to become his wife in exchange for their autonomy - and the youngest one Nike is chosen, via rock paper scissors. She's reluctant about it and the two don't hit it off at first, but they grow to understand and love each other.

    Comics 
  • Karolina and Xavin of Runaways are really devoted to each other after they head off for the wedding.Before Xavin got Put on a Bus and Karolina ended up dating someone else, that is.
  • Crystal and Ronan the Accuser during War of Kings. Kind of. Crystal starts off hating Ronan and eventually begins to admire him and understand that he's in basically the same situation that she is.

     Fanworks 
  • In The Ikaris, Shinji and Asuka get accidentally married. Although they already knew and liked each other, several misunderstandings and a bunch of emotional troubles had prevented them from becoming a couple before their accidental wedding.
  • In The Dark Knight fanfic Question of Honor, Bruce and Grace have to get married to help her escape her war-torn homeland. They plan on staying together for a few years and then getting a divorce to ensure that Grace can stay in the states. Things take a different turn however...
  • In the Broken Bow series, this was what Lya hoped her marriage to Armani would become. Sadly for her, it doesn't work out that way.

     Film 
  • In Green Card Georges and Bronte join in a sham marriage to get a green card to the US and a good apartment respectively. They can't stand each other, and are hunted by the INS, before they realise they love each other.
  • In Fools Rush In the couple Isabel & Alex have a one night stand in Las Vegas which results in pregnancy. They decide to get married, move in together and then actually get to know each other.
  • Raise the Red Lantern could be an example of how this sort of trope does not necessarily result in a happy ending. Songlian marries Chen as his fourth wife. Although she is initially indifferent to him, she soon becomes embroiled in the competition between the wives to seduce him and gain his undivided attention.
  • In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers a mountain man named Adam convinces a townswoman named Milly to marry him, promising an idealistic life in the woods. But when he gets her home she discovers that he failed to mention his six rowdy adult brothers who would also be living under the same roof. Despite her initial anger, she starts to fall in love with him, but their romance is derailed when he decides that since kidnapping one woman worked so well, they might as well head into town and grab themselves six more. Snowed in over winter, all of the girls warm to their captors and when spring arrives and their menfolk come to rescue them, they all manage to finagle shot-gun weddings instead.
  • In Shadowlands, the Bio Pic about C. S. Lewis, he marries Joy in a civil ceremony so that she can live and work in the UK. Then he falls in love with her, and after she develops bone cancer, they get married for real. This was Truth in Television.
  • Columbia Pictures 2006 biodrama Marie Antoinette starts with the marriage of King Louis XVI of France to Princess Marie of Austria. The two had never met until their wedding, which was made to solidify a treaty between France and Austria. Nevertheless, Marie and Louis grew to love each other during their short reign.
  • The surprisingly non-schmaltzy Loving Leah, a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, has a couple who marry based on Orthodox Jewish levirate marriage and who fall for each other after the wedding.
  • In The Proposal, Sandra Bullock's character makes her assistant marry her to avoid being deported to Canada. After pretending to friends, family and the INS, they're exposed... only to have him propose so that he they can date.
  • 7th Heaven features a fake marriage before romance. Diane is a Streetwalker and The Woobie, and she is about to get arrested, so Chico impulsively says she's his wife despite the fact that he just met her. When the cop says they'll be following up to make sure that's true, Chico panics until Diane says she can stay in his apartment and pretend to be his wife until the cops stop by. When the cops finally stop by, Chico and Diane have fallen in love.
  • The movie Lady Jane depicts this between Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley. Jane is not happy with the proposed marriage, and must be forced into it through corporal punishment by her parents. At first Jane and Guildford decide to treat their union purely as a Marriage of Convenience, but then they fall deeply in love.
  • Monsoon Wedding starts with the arranged couple feeling very awkward in each other's company, and there's some complications with her old flame, but by the end the two of them are taking quite a liking to each other.
  • Jodhaa Akbar centers around sixteenth century Mughal Emperor Akbar and his Rajput wife, Jodhaa. The two are forced into marriage because Akbar wanted the Rajputs' allegiance. Akbar is Muslim and Jodhaa is Hindu, but despite their differences they slowly (and charmingly) fall in love.
  • In the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Loving Leah, Jake Lever (Adam Kaufman) seems to be trying less and less hard to get out of his levirate marriage to his late brother Benjamin's wife Leah as the film progresses. The fact that she's played by Lauren Ambrose might have something to with it...

     Literature 
  • In A Brother's Price this is to be expected, since marriages are arranged, and a man marries all the sisters in a family, which with family sizes up to thirty, makes it impossible for everyone to be in love with each other prior to the wedding. The protagonist, Jerin who manages to marry for love is not in love with all of his wives by the end of the book - which is a good thing, considering that some of them are still children. He considers this normal, and is optimistic about his future happiness.
  • In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold the marriage was meant to be temporary, to get her out of a deportation and him out of a kidnapping charge. In a hilarious scene, they manage to go to court for a divorce, but the judge finds they have no grounds for annulment. Then he chews out the man — his cousin — for wasting the court's time.
  • Zane and Danica in Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. It's a political match — their peoples have been at war for generations, they're the royal heirs, and they decide that they can make peace via a marriage alliance. It works, and they fall in love later.
  • In the short novel Islands by Eric Flint, Calopidius leaves for war shortly after his Arranged Marriage with Anna. She sets out to visit him to claim a divorce, but they end having a romance via telegraph as she travels.
  • In Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, this happens to Random and Vialle — where Random was forced to marry Vialle as punishment for past peccadilloes ("as punishment" because she is blind and her parents couldn't marry her off otherwise). When he is arrested for attempting to assassinate his brother, she asks to join him in prison. He explains that they had actually fallen in love. Later on, when Random becomes the new King of Amber, Vialle becomes a responsible Queen.
  • Moonraker's Bride by Madeleine Brent: The heroine enters a marriage of convenience with a man who's about to be executed; complications (and eventually romance) ensue when he's not executed after all.
  • Sarah Plain and Tall, a children's book published in 1985, later made into a movie and stage play, is about Sarah, a mail order bride to a widower named Caleb who has two young children. Their courtship happens after they are already living as man and wife.
  • In the novel Promised Land by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice the main character, Delanna, returns to her home planet to inherit a large tract of land, but finds out that according to the planet's backward property laws, she has been legally married to her neighbor, and before she can divorce him, she must live together with him for one year. Rom-com ensues.
  • This is a common trope in pulp romance novels, like this one Married By Mistake.
  • Georgette Heyer used this one several times, in Fridays Child, The Convenient Marriage, and April Lady.
  • Happens to the secondary characters Sevinna and Dwaen in Katharine Kerr's Deverry novel Days of Air and Darkness, and apparently it works out.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt has Illiana and Markus in "Betvingade". Due to some unfortunate circumstances, they're forced to marry each other. But it turns out well enough, as they start falling in love with each other...
    • And another Swedish writer, Elisabet Nemert, has a very similar plotline in her novel "Ödets hav". Aurora, the story's female protagonist, is forced to marry her uncle's friend's son. But she and Roland learn to love each other...
  • Quite a few of Catherine Anderson's stories feature this, most notably Lucky Penny, Blue Skies, Baby Love, Walking On Air and Perfect Timing.
  • King Endon and Queen Sharn in Deltora Quest. As per The Rule, they had never spoken before marrying.
  • In Spock's World, a Star Trek novel by Diane Duane, one of the stories from Vulcan's history is of a girl who is able to kill with her mind when she is angry. She has killed two potential husbands this way. She is forced into a third marriage for political reasons, and is sure he will end up as the other two. Then they meet and argue and fall in love. What happens when her husband is killed is the main reason Vulcans have discouraged marrying for love.
  • Arranged Marriage is the rule for the Political and Officer classes in W.C. Dietz's Crisis of Empire trilogy. Usually friendly enough but neither party minds much when circumstances require a divorce so one or both can make a better match. This is not the case with Allison Spencer and Bethany Windsor. They are in love and blissfully happy - until Pact politics tear them apart giving Bethany to her Senator uncle's new military ally General Anson Merikur. At first she hates him - though she knows it wasn't his doing. Then she finds herself drawn to him...
  • In Dragomirs Diary, the titular character meets his wife after they've already been married, and one of the first things she does is threaten to beat on him for arriving a day late. Despite that, they eventually do fall in love - enough so that Libby is willing to throw herself into a crumbling castle to save Dragomir, and has to be forcefully removed by a dragon.
  • More or less the case with Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. They had an arranged engagement but once they got married for real they did it because they loved each other.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt has Illiana and Markus in "Betvingade". Due to some unfortunate circumstances, they're forced to marry each other. But it turns out well enough, as they start falling in love with each other...
    • And another Swedish writer, Elisabet Nemert, has a very similar plotline in her novel "Ödets hav". Aurora, the story's female protagonist, is forced to marry her uncle's friend's son. But she and Roland learn to love each other...
  • Mahir and Nandini in the Newsflesh series. All right, so he chose her after being offered over a dozen other possibles, because she looked a good deal like Georgia, whom Mahir had had romantic feelings for, but the marriage does work out quite well and he falls very much in love with Nandini.
  • In The Night Angel Trilogy Logan and Jenine are shoved awkwardly into marriage because she has a crush and his fiance slept with the prince. They spend the next two books separated and convinced the other is dead. Logan almost marries again for political reasons, Jenine becomes the wife of the Godking. However when Logan finds out she's alive and in the hands of the enemy he marches to war to rescue her. Cue happy ending.
  • In Dead West, The Amber Duchess and the Porcelain Doctor; a beautiful, fragile-looking Scottish duchess paired with a young Scottish earl. This trope is played with; this started as an arranged engagement, with none of the parties having too much say in it, then the engagement had been broken up by Arabell's parents. Since she was dismayed with his new groom, who was old enough to be his father, quite rude and not too attractive, the duchess fled to his previous fiancé, and they got married to lessen the scandal. Granted, it didn't start with mutual love, but they had a lot of respect towards each other, and after getting married, the doctor soon started to reciprocate the duchess' love. The Beast obviously spent a lot of time searching for the perfect lady for his little brother
    "I have to spend the rest of my life in her company after all."
  • In the Protector of the Small quartet, this happens between Prince Roald and Princess Shinkokami, once they get to know each other. According to Word of God, this also is the case with Roald's sister, Kalasin, and Emperor Kaddar, as she got to choose among the potential alliance marriages she could make in exchange for not pursing knighthood, and he is besotted with her.
  • An Older Than Radio example has been left out - On Barsoom as is written in The Chessmen of Mars, Tara of Helium, the Warlord of Mars's daughter, was presumed to be matched with the Jeddak Gahan of Gathol, who appeared to her to be quite the useless dandy. However, when she got lost in a storm and met up with plain ol' Turan, a panthan (common soldier) who proved to be almost as good a fighter as her worshipped father, she lost her heart to him. Good thing that ornaments and fancy clothing don't make the man....
  • Rome. Jocosta is gang-raped and her father's riches confiscated by the state — as a result she's not happy that the only candidate for marriage is recently freed slave Posca. But Posca turns out to be quite adept at making money via corrupt political deals and is tolerant of his wife's ditzy ways, so it turns out quite well.
    • It's also implied that Vorenus and Niobe were an arranged match (not that that marriage turned out all too well).
    • Octavian and Livia, for all their flaws, are rather happy together.
  • The Americans:
    • Philip and Elizabeth. It's mentioned at one point that when Philip was introduced to Elizabeth for the first time he was relieved by how pretty she was, but he could tell by her face that she was disappointed by him. It isn't until the third episode that Elizabeth admits that she's starting to feel love for Philip for the first time in their twenty year marriage.
    • Philip and Martha's fake relationship and fake marriage starts to get more real by Season 4, like in season premiere "Glanders", when he's going to Martha for comfort and telling her things he doesn't tell his other wife.

     Live Action TV 
  • Dharma and Greg runs on this premise. The pilot episode involves uptight lawyer Greg and Granola Girl Dharma impulsively getting married on the first date, and the rest of the show involves the two falling in love for real as they get to know each other and reconcile their differences as they build a life together.
  • Downton Abbey: Robert married Cora for her money, but they ended up falling in love after they were married. Years later, they are still very Happily Married.
  • ER had Susan and Chuck get married after a really drunk night. Originally intending to get divorced, things kept getting in the way, though they ended up getting to know each other better and staying together, even having a son.
  • Todd and Tea from One Life to Live have a marriage of convenience.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, Teddy marries a patient because he has a chronic illness and cannot afford surgery so that he will be covered under her insurance. She originally has no romantic interest in him, but they fall in love, though he unfortunately dies shortly after.
  • Taxi: A season one episode has Nice Guy John Burns marry a girl he just met on their first date. The two consider a divorce, but realize they like each other and decide to try to make it work. While John doesn't last much longer on the show, they seem pretty happy together in each subsequent appearance.
  • In What I Like About You, Val spots a former employer in a bar and they wake up married to each other. She wants to annul the marriage as soon as possible, but he refuses since he wants to give it a chance. They eventually get married again.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Joy tricked Earl into marrying her in Las Vegas while drunk, in order to secure someone to provide for her baby. Although the marriage ended, and it was far from perfect, they both look back on the six years they spent together fondly, and have several Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. Earl even mentions that Joy was his favorite wife.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A particularly surprising example comes in the form of Ledaal Kes and Ragara Szaya, two Dragon-Blooded Exalted who were married off to each other primarily because they are both Air Aspects with extraordinary Breeding. What makes this particular relationship so bizarre is that both Kes and Szaya are openly homosexual, and yet they care for each other enough that they see each other as the sole exception to the rule.

     Theater 
  • In Fiddler on the Roof the marriage of Tevye and Golde was arranged and they have been together for years, having already raised all their children to adulthood, but it isn't until one of their daughters wants to marry for love that they start thinking about romance with one another. Their duet "Do You Love Me?" lampshades, describes and plays out the trope.
  • Averted in Anne of the Thousand Days. The marriage of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragorn was thorny from the outset, and deteriorated thereafter. One scene shows Henry VIII grousing about this: "I do not love that woman. That was a marriage of state: England married Spain."

     Video Games 
  • In Analogue: A Hate Story, the Kim family try to tell the Pale Bride that this will happen.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: A City Elf Player Character who expresses a desire to Marry for Love is seen as an oddball by the rest of the community and is assured that this will happen by your father, who himself experienced this with your mother. If you're not outright rude to your betrothed when you meet, s/he will also express confidence that this is how your relationship will play out.
  • The marriage between Ashe and Rasler in Final Fantasy XII is like this, although it is established that they were close beforehand due to being the only heir of their respective thrones of two allied countries. Unfortunately, it doesn't last very long since Rasler is killed just before the start of the game.
  • In Crusader Kings, one possible event is "You have fallen in love with your wife". The sequel features an event where you buy you wife a gift. The most expensive one(Ruby Earrings) makes her fall in love with you. Guess Paul was wrong.
  • If you play the Relationship Values right in Lunarosse, Channing and Gloria's relationship will go from a grudgingly arranged marriage to this.

     Web Comic 
  • Marry Me. Pop-idol who doesn't want to go back into the dating scene impuslively accepts a marraige proposal by sign and gets married to him on stage that minute. But the guy who was holding the sign didn't especially want to get married to her - it wasn't even his sign. Eventually they fall in love.
  • In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, half-orc prince Glon Bloodhand gets married to four orc princesses for political reasons. He quickly grows into this trope with three of them and is in the process of winning over the fourth when she is murdered.

     Web Video 
  • The premise of Husbands. When gay marriage is legalized, boyfriends Cheeks and Brady Kelly are the first to get married. But they were drunk when they did that. They can't divorce because it's bad for the cause, and so they figure they'd stay married awhile, try it out, and then they divorce. But as they spend more time together, they realize that they do love each other.

    Real Life 
  • Maria Kutschera, despite what The Sound of Music may tell you, was not desperately in love with Captain von Trapp when they married, although he was in love with her. She married him for the sake of the children and fell in love with him later. Obviously, it all worked out, as by the time they left Austria, she was pregnant with their third child.
  • The marriage between William III and Mary II didn't start out very well; Mary cried through their wedding, William was cold and neglectful towards her, and had an affair with one of her ladies-in-waiting. However, the relations between them improved very much, and when Mary died young of smallpox, William was devastated, saying that "from being the happiest" he was "now going to be the miserablest creature on earth".
    • While it took time, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were described as having this relationship. Louis was so enchanted with her that he refused to take a mistress, something that was unheard of and he was ridiculed for it.
  • The marriage of Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Napoleon's trusty chief-of-staff, and Elizabeth of Bavaria (no, not that one). Berthier was 55 and already madly in love with a married Italian noblewoman, Giuseppa Visconti; Elizabeth was 22. Berthier introduced Giuseppa as an old acquaintance and kept living with her even after his marriage, but Elizabeth either did not mind or turned a blind eye on their affair, and became good friends with her husband's mistress. Over time, Berthier developed real feelings for his wife, although they were not so passionate as the ones he had for Giuseppa.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarriageBeforeRomance