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Marriage Before Romance

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"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. 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 when two characters engaged against their will discover true love. Also compare It Meant Something to Me and Becoming the Mask. If the couple pretended to be in love when they married, it is a Romantic Fake–Real Turn. May also overlap with Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other. 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 & Manga 
  • In the Ah! My Goddess franchise the main character, Keiichi Morisato, encounters a goddess who will grant one wish to him. He wishes that she stays 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. The manga ends with Belldandy and Keichi being officially married by Belldandy's mother after they pass the trial, and that's when Keiichi is told, straight up, that the wording of his wish in chapter one is explicitly a marriage proposal.
  • 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.
  • Fly Me to the Moon: Tsukasa falls under this trope; while Nasa falls in Love at First Sight with her, she only goes out with him after he accepts being married to her there on the spot, as a way of making sure he's absolutely serious. While Tsukasa doesn't mind Nasa's company, she's "flippantly serious" about the arrangement, but develops her own feelings for him over time.
  • 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. Plus, they had a rather rocky start since Kiritsugu wasn't impressed with Iri at first, but once her father/creator cruelly rejected her, Kiritsugu rescued and nursed her back to health, which is what made them grow closer and fall in love in the first place. Their relationship is even happier in the much more light-hearted Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA.
  • 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.
  • The Great Snake's Bride: Miyo is made into the bride of a giant snake, Daija, who's revered as a deity by her village. She has never met him before and assumes, like everybody else, that she's really being sacrificed to him. She lives in terror of him at first, but once she understands that Daija truly intends to treat her as his wife and wants her to be comfortable with him, romance blossoms between them.
  • Happy Marriage?!: The main couple gets thrown into an Arranged Marriage but end up falling in love with each other.
  • I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up: The premise involves Machi pretending to marry her kohai and friend Hana (who'd previously confessed to her while they were in college and got rejected), in order to satisfy their needs. Machi wants to stop her parents from pressuring her to marry successful men, while Hana needs a place to stay while her apartment is being renovated. Eventually, Machi ends up falling in love with Hana.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Please Teacher!: High school student Kei Kusanagi marries the alien who is posing as his homeroom teacher in order to protect her secret identity. They move in together and quickly fall in love with each other.
  • 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 fiancées, 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 Aw, 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.
  • A variation takes place in Red River (1995). 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 Wicked Stepmother's murder attempts. The two play the part at first, but remain distant as they anticipate sending Yuri home soon... but they do fall in love for real. 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 and she can challenge the Wicked Stepmother and become the proper Queen.
  • 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, never mind their massive cultural and personality clashes and all the cap the plot throws at poor Sumi. They do.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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. Crystal starts off hating Ronan and eventually begins to admire him and understand that he's in basically the same situation that she is. When Black Bolt eventually breaks up the marriage, neither of them takes it well.

    Fan Works 
  • 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 Desire Written in Olive, Tony Stark and Wanda Maximoff marry as part of a plan to hide she's former HYDRA and was involved in Ultron's plot to destroy the world. It takes several months before they're no longer at each other's throats and a couple years before they actually fall in love.
  • Due to Accidental Proposal, Different DxD has a betrothal variant between Sona Sitri and Issei Hyoudou - but everyone around considers them married already. Both of them are quite bemused at the beginning, but slowly grow fond of each other over one year.
  • In Dragonstone, Jon and Margaery's wedding starts as painfully awkward - since they're only thirteen years old and are not quite mature enough to deal with their newlywed status. Still, Olenna's advice does wonder for their relationship, with their children's births, and they become quite happy with each other.
  • 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.
  • The Lady and the Lion is an AU of Dragon Age: Inquisition in which an Arranged Marriage has to happen every 25 years to reaffirm the peace treaty between Ferelden and the Free Marches. Cullen is hastily elevated to a lordship so he can marry the youngest daughter of Bann Trevelyan of Ostwick. They meet just two days before the ceremony and, although they immediately like each other, it takes a rocky few months before they figure out they're in love.
  • In Mended Hearts, Oliver and Laurel stage a "fake wedding" to draw out Cupid. Due to Cupid attacking later than they were planning, they are unable to stop the license from going through and wind up genuinely married by accident. While they already still loved each other, each thought the other had moved on. They then learn the other does still love them and rekindle their romance, leading to the unusual question:
    "Dinah Laurel Lance, will you stay married to me?”
  • In the 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...
  • The 100 fic "A Union" opens with Clarke and Anya's first meeting on the bridge where Anya proposes that Clarke join her in a peace union, which Clarke only later learns is an actual marriage. Once Anya establishes that Clarke didn't know what she was agreeing to, they agree to maintain the appearance of an actual marriage for the sake of the alliance but acknowledge deeper feelings for each other by the time they escape from Mount Weather.

    Films — Animation 
  • King Fergus and Queen Elinor in Brave most definitely love each other and, at one point, he playfully grabs her butt. While they have completely opposite personalities as a Violent Glaswegian and a Proper Lady, they still have a working marriage. When he has her pretend that she's speaking to their rebellious daughter, Merida, she accidentally reveals to Fergus that she has had misgivings about the betrothal at first. His surprised look reveals that he had no idea.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 Apur Sansar, Apu is jittery at first after being coaxed into marrying a woman he literally just met, and the aristocratic Aparna for her part breaks down sobbing when she gets her first look at Apu's shabby little one-room apartment. But they wind up falling deeply in love.
  • Bizalom: Kata and Janos have to pretend to be married because it's 1944 Budapest and they are hiding from the Gestapo by using false ID papers that show them to be a married couple. They fall in love.
  • This trope is used as a counter-argument against Prince Akeem's desire for a love match in Coming to America. Queen Aeoleon says that while her marriage to King Jaffe was arranged (and they first met on their wedding day), she came to love him and their marriage is a happy one.
  • 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 and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. (Not Truth in Television for the real people, sadly; by most accounts, Jane couldn't stand him.)
  • A movie called Loco Love revolves around a renowned chef who loses his restaurant after his wife took it, the money, and most everything else in the divorce proceeding. Hearing of his plight, his gardener, who recently won the lottery, tells the chef he'll give him the capital to start a new restaurant on the condition he marries his sister so she can stay in the U.S., and allows him and his family to move in with him. The marriage is rocky, to put it mildly, but after a while, they do start to love each other, and after the ex-wife tries to win him back, the chef smooths things over with his second wife, and they do end up happily ever after.
  • Played for tragedy in Magnolia, in which Linda married her much older husband Earl purely for money, and only realises that she's genuinely fallen in love with him when he's in the final stages of cancer and too out of it for her to explain it to him. The combination of grief, and guilt over her earlier unfeeling treatment of him, drives her to a suicide attempt which ultimately fails.
  • The Columbia Pictures bio-drama Marie Antoinette (2006) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 they can date.
  • Joan in The Purchase Price is a Mail-Order Bride, so her marriage is rather unromantic with Jim Gordon. Over time she falls in love with him but he remains distant. Then one night their harvested-but-not-sold crop is set on fire, and Joan and Jim fight to save it. Joan is injured, but they succeed — and her determination and dedication finally break through Jim's reserve.
  • 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 idyllic 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 shotgun 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.
  • Spite Marriage: Trilby marries Elmer, whom she barely knows, in a fit of pique after finding out that her boyfriend Lionel is cheating on her. She later falls in love with Elmer for real after he saves her from bootleggers on the yacht.
  • Most of the plot of the rom-com The Wedding Planner revolves around the fact that the father of the eponymous wedding planner made an Arranged Marriage between her and the son of an old friend of his. Near the end of the movie, she calls him out on this, evoking his marriage to her late mother, only for him to tell her that was also arranged. He goes on to tell her that when they were younger, he was in love with someone else, and she didn't really like him. They spent the first years of their marriage despising one another (since they lived and got married in Italy, it's heavily implied that societal tradition levied a heavy taboo on divorce.) One day he got incredibly sick and she nursed him back to health, and with that experience, they slowly but surely learned to love one another.

  • Several Brandon Sanderson books feature this. Wax and Wayne between Wax and Sterris, Literature/Warbreaker between Siri and the God king, and his first published work Literature/Elantris between Raoden and Sarene.
  • Quite a few of Catherine Anderson's stories feature this, most notably Lucky Penny, Blue Skies, Baby Love, Walking On Air and Perfect Timing.
  • From Danielle L. Jensen:
    • In Malediction Trilogy Tristan and Cecile are married only because of a prophecy and have no chance to get to know each other before the ceremony takes place. Still, they fall in love very quickly, probably helped by the fact that troll wedding includes powerful magic to bind the newlyweds.
    • In The Bridge Kingdom Archives Aren, king of Ithicana, and Lara, princess of Maridrina, get married as a part of the peace treaty between the two nations - which have been fighting for generations. Following initial distrust, they fall in love.
  • Georgette Heyer used this one several times, in Friday's Child, The Convenient Marriage, and April Lady.
  • 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...
  • 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 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.
  • In The Chessmen of Mars, Tara was presumed to be matched with the Jeddak, who appeared 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 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 her new groom, who was old enough to be her father, quite rude and not too attractive, the duchess fled to her previous fiancée;, 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."
  • King Endon and Queen Sharn in Deltora Quest. As per The Rule, they had never spoken before marrying.
  • In Dragomir's 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Am J: J's parents had a Shotgun Wedding. His father loved his mother, but it was unrequited. Eventually, it became mutual.
  • That Irresistible Poison by Alessandra Hazard: On the planet of Calluvia, romantic love is expected to come after marriage, since Calluvians are betrothed from birth. Seyn and Ksar, the princes of The Third Grand Clan and the Second Grand Clan respectively, were also engaged to each other in an arranged marriage. While they do fall in love eventually, they had some unconventional twists and turns. Seyn and Ksar were betrothed, then they broke their engagement because Ksar wanted to help his brother Harry to be free of his fiancée, so that lovesick Harry could be with Adam. Crown Prince Ksar is even more high profile than Harry, so Harry's fiancée Leylen was more than happy to switch betrotheds. However, Seyn and Ksar find their mutual attraction irresistible, and soon realize that they love each other. In the end, Ksar breaks off his engagement with Leylen, and marries Seyn, his original intended spouse and love of his life.
  • 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 up having a romance via telegraph as she travels.
  • Married Thrice To Salted Fish starts with Lin Qingyu being unhappily forced into an Arranged Marriage with the terminally ill Lu Wancheng. Lin Qingyu initially just wants Lu Wancheng to die as soon as possible so that he'll be freed from their marriage, but he gradually changes his mind as he gets to know his husband better. Although their romance doesn't truly begin until after Lu Wancheng dies, gets reincarnated in a different man's body, and marries Lin Qingyu a second time for initial pragmatic reasons.
  • Moonrakers 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.
  • While all of Jane Austen 's heroines do end up marrying for love, at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice Charlotte Lucas does recommend this approach for Jane Bennet, stressing to Jane's sister Elizabeth that she should encourage Charles Bingley's attentions and get a proposal from him as soon as possible when he's most interested, even if she isn't yet sure that she loves him; they're both so amiable that love will surely flourish after their marriage. For her part, Elizabeth protests that Jane still hardly knows Bingley and has only had the chance to meet him on a few occasions thus far, and needs time to get to know him better.
  • 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 Married By Mistake.
  • Happens to the secondary characters Sevinna and Dwaen in Katharine Kerr's Deverry novel Days of Air and Darkness, and apparently it works out.
  • The Never Veil series is set in a cursed village where, upon puberty, every man is magically brainwashed into "loving" a random woman. This explicitly has nothing to do with the feelings, compatibility, or consent of the people involved (the woman can technically refuse, but no other villager will ever be interested in her, and the rejected man will die of despair): it's more like a Cosmic Horror Story than any version of the soulmate trope. In book 2 the curse is broken, and most couples eagerly note  break up...but Elweard and Vena are still happy with each other (if in a different way than before), and get remarried within a day.
  • Mahir and Nandini in the Newsflesh series. All right, so he chose her after being offered over a dozen other possibilities 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 fiancée 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 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 pursuing knighthood, and he is besotted with her.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully originally only married because Cat's original betrothed, Ned's older brother Brandon, was killed, and their families needed the alliance. By the time the first book begins, the two have been together many years and have come to truly love each other.
  • 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.
  • A certain subset of evangelical Christian fiction relies on this trope because it's written for a subculture where romantic relationships between unmarried people are strictly controlled and even things like kissing or being alone together are often forbidden. In order to allow a typical romance arc to play out without the risk of offending their reader base, these books frequently come up with a device to marry the characters to each other right at the start, allowing the writer to then write said romance novel without having to worry about crossing lines their target audience might see as inappropriate for an unmarried couple. For example, Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly centers around a pregnant widow and a widower with a young child who enter into a Marriage of Convenience so that she can be provided for and he can have someone to take care of his daughter (the story is set in the 1850s, a time when women were considered inherently better than men at caring for children), and it's only after they've been together for a few months that an actual relationship begins to develop between them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 in 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 start 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.
  • As the World Turns's Simon and Katie entered a Citizenship Marriage so that he could stay close to Lily —and eventually fell in love.
  • Dharma & 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 the half-Jewish American "dollar princess" Cora Levinson for her money. About a year after their wedding, they ended up falling in love. Years later, they are still very Happily Married. Robert explicitly tells Cora he's embarrassed about his reasons for marrying her while discussing why he had one of their daughter Lady Mary's prospects turned away.
  • 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.
  • Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen was forcibly married to Khal Drogo, and that came with a Marital Rape License. She learns how to seduce him over time though, he comes to treat her better and she comes to love him in the end.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, Teddy marries a patient because he has a chronic illness and cannot afford surgery so he will be covered under her insurance. She originally had no romantic interest in him but they fall in love, though he unfortunately dies shortly after.
  • Guiding Light's Danny marries Michelle to protect her from his vengeful mob family.
  • In House, M.D., following his breakup with Cuddy, House agrees to marry a Ukrainian woman so she can get a green card. At first, they live largely separate lives, but they end up having to move in together to pull it off, and they start developing real feelings for each other. Unfortunately, it's not a happy ending: House is so afraid of her leaving that he tries to hide the fact that she's gotten her citizenship from her, and it's this deception that drives her away from him.
  • The Reality TV series Married At First Sight (2014-present) attempts to invoke this trope. Contestants on the show are subjected to a legally binding First-Date Marriage. They are paired by a team of psychologists, couples counselors, and clergy, resulting in Commonality Connection; of course, the Rule of Drama being what it is, they also naturally rub each other's Achilles Heels (IE a spouse with trust issues vs. one who is comfortable lying). After a wedding and a honeymoon, the show follows the chosen couples for several weeks, after which they are given the option to separate. Of the 34 marriages started over the course of 10 seasons, 21 have continued past the Season Finale (though, as of mid-2020, only 9 of those remain married).
  • 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 Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. Earl even mentions that Joy was his favorite wife.
  • One Life to Live:
    • Todd and Tea have a Marriage of Convenience.
    • Technically, him and Blair. Although they're already friends, they marry only because he thinks she's pregnant (she's pulling The Baby Trap to get her hands on his money), eventually falling in love for real.
  • 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.
  • It takes a while, but in the BBC series "The Pallisers" (from the books Palliser), Lady Glencora and Plantagenet eventually fall in love in a very gentle way.
  • In the Mini Series Queen (1993), the plantation owner badgers his son about how it's time for him to find a wife. The son declares that he isn't certain if he loves the girl he's currently courting. The father finds the idea ludicrous, outright saying, "Love has nothing to do with it. It's about sons and land and honor.", then softens slightly, assuring him that he'll come to love the girl eventually, citing how he loves his wife dearly now even if he didn't when they first married.
  • 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).
    • In their happier days they're discussing arranging a marriage for their daughter. When she asks about the love she is told "strange sort of marriage when you loved each other first."
    • Octavian and Livia, for all their flaws, are rather happy together.
  • Taxi: A season one episode has Nice Guy John Burns marry a girl he just met on their first date. The two consider 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: 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.

  • Averted in Anne of the Thousand Days. The marriage of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon 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."note 
  • In Fiddler on the Roof, the marriage of Tevye and Golde was arranged and they have been together for a quarter of a century, having already raised several of their children to adulthood; but it isn't until their daughters start pushing back on the tradition in favor of marrying for love that they start thinking about romance with one another. Their duet "Do You Love Me?" lampshades, describes, and plays out the trope.
    Golde: For 25 years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. 25 years my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?
    Tevye: Then you love me?
    Golde: I suppose I do.
    Tevye: And I suppose I love you too.
    Both: It doesn't change a thing, but even so... after 25 years, it's nice to know.
  • In The Yeomen of the Guard, Fairfax marries Elise in order to prevent his property being inherited by those who have falsely accused him. She is blindfolded for the ceremony and he is too distracted to remember her face, so when they meet later, neither recognizes the other. They then proceed to fall in love.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Lilium -Sims 2: Horitio was arranged to marry Estella as children. When they meet as teens, Horitio is initially in love with his sister. He pushes aside his feelings and marries Estella due to obligation. Eventually, the two fall mutually in love.

  • Marry Me! by Miku Yuuki, starts with Sinn, a civil servant who is promised a promotion if her participates in a trial for a new law referred to as the "NEET Protection Act," which requires that he marry the reclusive Mari who shut herself from the world after her grandparents, whom she lived with and raised her, died. At first Mari refuses to accept she's married and even tries to have Sinn cancel the deal because shortly before her grandmother died, she signed Mari up for the program behind her back, and Mari also states that she wants to spend the rest of her life alone. However when her cat gets sick, Sinn drives her to the vet and she agrees to give the marriage a try because she realized that her cat dying means she would truly be alone. As time goes one, Sinn and Mari slowly do develop romantic feelings for one another until they celebrate a real wedding on their first anniversary.
  • Marry Me (Bobby Crosby). Pop-idol who doesn't want to go back into the dating scene impulsively accepts a marriage 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 Videos 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • English and British monarchs never fail to provide examples of all tropes royal.
    • Edward I of England married twice, both for strictly political reasons. First, at fifteen, he was wed to the thirteen-year-old Eleanor of Castile. They proved a devoted couple, with Eleanor following Edward on his military campaigns including a Crusade. When she died Edward was devastated and the famous Eleanor Crosses are a lasting monument to his grief. Nine years later Edward married again, Margaret of France. Despite an age difference of forty years, this marriage was just as happy as his first with Eleanor. When Edward died after six years of marriage Margaret declared that 'All men' were dead to her.
    • George III of Great Britain (yes that George III) had quite a happy marriage to Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Although they first met on their wedding day (at which point George was already king), all indications are that they loved each other dearly. He never took a mistress (unlike his father, grandfather, and sons) and their marriage was by all accounts quite the happy one. They had fifteen (fifteen!) children. It helped that both George and Charlotte were sober, calm (when he wasn't overcome by his unfortunate disease), devout Protestants who preferred quiet family in the country to a glitzy life at court.
    • Queen Victoria was George III's granddaughter and successor to the throne. She married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in a political marriage in 1840. They were by all accounts very happy and had nine children. When Prince Albert died in 1861, Victoria was grief-stricken and went into mourning which lasted until her death in 1901. An entry in her diary for her wedding day gives an idea of her emotions (capitals are in the original):
      I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!
    • King George V of the United Kingdom - grandfather to Queen Elizabeth II - married his brother Albert's fiancée Mary of Teck when Albert died of pneumonia. This marriage of convenience became a love match. Both parties were emotionally inarticulate and almost pathologically shy but communicated their mutual feelings in passionate letters and 'understood each other perfectly' as George wrote in one of them. They spawned one of England's most universally beloved monarchies - just about the only monarch seriously complained about from this dynasty is the rather selfish Edward VIII.
  • Pompey the Great of ancient Rome had a habit of marrying for purely political reasons and then falling head-over-heels in love with his wife. Some guys are just romantics. He and his fourth wife, Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar) were especially devoted to each other, though he was over twenty years older than her. Her untimely death broke the last bond tying Pompey and Caesar together in alliance, opening the gates for the ruinous civil war between Caesar and Pompey that would ultimately lead to the rise of Octavian and the end of the Republic.
  • 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. She really had meant it when she entered Nonnberg Abbey as a postulant, although she later joked that it was clear she wasn't cut out to be a nun.note  Obviously, it all worked out, as, by the time they left Austria, she was pregnant with their third child. She later reflected that "I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after."
  • As for non-royals, C. S. Lewis obtained a civil marriage to American Joy Gresham in order to allow her and her children to remain in England. While good friends, the two didn't fall in love until after their civil wedding, and were eventually married in the Church; Joy's death devastated Lewis so much that he wrote A Grief Observed, chronicling his struggle with his faith in the wake of her loss.
    Once very near the end I said, 'If you can — if it is allowed — come to me when I too am on my death bed.' 'Allowed!' she said. 'Heaven would have a job to hold me; and as for Hell, I'd break it to bits.'
  • Three of these took place in the context of The Crusades:
    • Baudouin II of Jérusalem and Morphia of Melitene. Their marriage was arranged to solidify an alliance, but it turned out happily and Baudouin refused to divorce Morphia even though she'd failed to give him a son.
    • Another Baudouin, Baudouin de Flandre, later the first Latin Emperor, married Marie de Champagne as a young teenager to end the bad blood between their families. Baudouin became utterly devoted to her, verging on Single-Target Sexuality.
    • Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria and his third wife, the Byzantine princess Irene Komnene Doukaina. He was said to have loved her, "no less than Antony loved Cleopatra."
  • The marriage of Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth of France started out poorly, not helped by the twenty-year difference in their age and the fact Elizabeth was still physically immature delaying consummation. But Philip was both patient and kind and Elizabeth reciprocated by making an effort to please him after a few years, they were desperately in love and very happy together. Then she died. Philip was unlucky that way. (For context, this was his third marriage, and he would eventually have a fourth one after his sole heir died.)
  • Emperor Pedro I of Brazil had a notoriously hard marriage to his first wife, but his second marriage, to Amélie of Leuchtenberg in 1829, was very happy, she became a motherly figure to her stepchildren and managed to make Pedro drop his notoriously lecherous behaviour (although, this can also be attributed to his trauma over blaming himself for the death of his first wifenote ), they remained married until his death by tuberculosis in 1834. She never remarried.
  • On an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, The Great British Bake Off alum Nadiya Hussein talked about how her marriage was arranged and that she and her husband gradually fell in love afterward. They had a vow renewal ceremony in order to declare their commitment to one another on their own terms.