1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

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, and they 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.

Compare Perfectly Arranged Marriage, which is focused on just one type of marriage and on the result, not on the romantic process. 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.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • San and Nagasumi's marriage in My Bride Is a Mermaid... either they got married, or one of them would have to die. One of the very few things the series actually treats seriously is the demonstration of how they grow out of being forced together by circumstance and into people who truly care about each other.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 Chronicles of Amber, Random is forced to marry a woman, to lend her some status even after he deserts her. However, when Corwin sees him later, he has brought his wife with him to the courts. He explains that they had actually fallen in love.
  • 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.

     Live Action TV 
  • In The Onedin Line James and Anne Onedin were their own matchmakers so to speak, having found it useful to marry each other to smooth out the legal details of a business alliance. As a bonus they happened to fall in love with each other. But don't tell anyone else.
  • Simon and Katie in As the World Turns
  • Tony and Shelly from Blossom is an accidental marriage example.
  • Nico and Cecily from All My Children have a marriage of convenience.
  • 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.
  • Robert and Holly from General Hospital have a marriage of convenience, while Scott and Dominique have an accidental one.
  • 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.

  • 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 

     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.

     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 
  • 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.