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Marriage of Convenience

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"Many people marry for the wrong reasons, among them: 1 - to overcome loneliness; 2 - to escape an unhappy parental home; 3 - because they think that everyone is expected to marry; 4 - because only 'losers' who can't find someone to marry stay single; 5 - out of a need to parent, or be parented by, another person; 6 - because they got pregnant; 7 - because 'we fell in love', ... and on goes the list."
Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti

In Real Life, Western citizens of the twenty-first century predominantly Marry for Love. In fiction, that normally tiny proportion of other marriages is inflated because of the intense comedic, dramatic and tragic potential.

That is, of course, in Western nations: Arranged Marriage is still not unusual in many other countries; it can still be a form of marrying for convenience, though, typically when a person agrees to an arranged marriage in order to get the arrangers to stop pestering them once they've resigned themselves. In other cases, like in media where the featured arranged marriage is not opposed to, it is simply fulfilling a convention of that media and/or its country, and so will probably not be a Marriage Of Convenience.

Historically, marrying for love did not become an option for the majority of people until about the 16th century. They married a good match for social standing and/or money. Additionally, if you wanted to keep the assets in the family, one may arrange a marriage of convenience with a distant-ish cousin. If you were not quite heterosexual, it really didn't matter because you would still pick out a suitable member of the opposite sex to marry. Nowadays, of course, incest is frowned upon and homophobia is becoming less common, so these good reasons for a purely convenient marriage shouldn't be so prevalent. But they are.


Often, a marriage of convenience is a mutually beneficial agreement, with both parties profiting from the binding - it may even involve a contract - but not always. Sometimes, only one of the partners may be in it for something other than love.

An expectation is that one or both of the people will fall in love with the other. It is also often a convention used to get two friends who are in love with each other to realise it. Then it may become a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.

There are many reasons one may choose to Marry For Convenience, and any instance can be one or more of the following (and others):

  1. Social standing - differs from respect as it is typically someone upper class making a good match
  2. Respect - including when reputation is at stake
  3. Money - including bet winning and to get the partner's money.
  4. Green card/citizenship
  5. Political marriage
  6. To play straight/gay
  7. Because the woman is pregnant - frequently "convenient" in the sense of not having that shotgun pointed at your back anymore.
  8. To help a single parent
  9. For practicalities - when only married couples are eligible for X, and/or to get out of marrying someone else.
  10. As a back-up plan
  11. To get close for ulterior motives
  12. To please parents - this may also be because of any of the above, too.

The (creators of the) work may show a marriage of convenience in order to fit in with the period of the story being told or for other reasons - commonly characterisation or as a critique of the society which has forced such a marriage to happen, or as a cheap way to get two characters together without any of that dating and love nonsense.

Contrast Marry for Love. See also Arranged Marriage, Fake Relationship, Gold Digger, Heir-In-Law, Marriage Before Romance, Romantic Fake–Real Turn, Parental Marriage Veto, Child Marriage Veto, Undercover as Lovers.

Sub Tropes:

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: Don Chinjao has planned to have his grandson Sai, the leader of the Happo Navy, marry the daughter of the general of the Nippo Navy as a bridge for the two navies to merge and become stronger. Sai, in the end, decides not to, though.
    • This is how Big Mom strengthens her crew - by marrying off her many children to powerful people. Sanji was forced to enter into a marriage with one of Big Mom's daughters by their family to form an alliance.
  • This is done in Aldnoah.Zero, with Slaine Troyard personally arranging a marriage to Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia except it was her half-sister Lemrina Vers Envers masquerading as her at the start of the second season. At the end of the show, Princess Asseylum announces that she would take Count Klanclain Cruhteo as her husband in marriage in order to secure a lasting peace between the Earth and the Vers Empire.
  • The father of Saotome Ranma from Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma ½ has arranged to board with the father of Tendo Akane so that these two young people can become acquainted and eventually marry. On one hand, Genma sees a huge advantage in Ranma inheriting a working dojo to maintain his martial arts training, and to thwart all of Ranma's other suitors as well; on the other, Soun would like to see Akane marry someone with a strong interest in martial arts so that the dojo he founded won't be neglected or sold off. However, Ranma regards Akane as too forceful and "uncute," while Akane despises boys in general since they're too pushy on her, and calls Ranma a "pervert" to his face... but as time passes Belligerent Sexual Tension sets in between them.
  • This is how the plot for Stepping on Roses begins: Soichirou Ashida needs to get married so he can properly inherit his family's fortune, Sumi Kitamura needs money to pay off her brother's debts and save her family from destitution, they meet pretty much by chance and reach an agreement to get married for anything but love. At least that's how it starts.
  • In SPY×FAMILY, Agent Twilight, aka Loid, has to pretend to have a family to infiltrate an elite private school that his target's son attends. Loid adopts a daughter, but the interview requires that both the father and mother be there, so he has to find a woman to pretend to be his wife. Yor needs someone to pretend to be a boyfriend she made up to get her co-workers and brother off her back (plus a single woman draws more suspicion from the government, something an assassin can do without). They make a deal, but at the party where she introduces him, Loid accidentally says he's Yor's husband, not her boyfriend. They decide that it's easier to just get married, so they do. They start to become more and more like a real family, especially when it comes to their adopted daughter Anya. Loid and Yor each nearly blow their cover more than once by Papa Wolf or Mama Bear instincts.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, Saphir, as one of the five ring princesses, is already obliged to marry Satou, the prophesized Ring King, and help him save the world from evil. Her actual reasons for marrying him are grounded in pragmatism: she wants to keep the Rings of Water out of the hands of The Empire, which has slowly been turning her country into a powerless vassal state; and she wants to give her twin sister Saphira, who might also be obliged to marry Satou, the freedom to be with the man she loves. While Saphir does come to value Satou as a friend and a source of entertainment, she doesn't love him the way his other wives do.

    Comic Books 
  • A French comic version of The Odyssey has Ulysses' right-hand man, having given up hope during the ten years of Ulysses' absence and sick of watching the suitors abuse their hospitality, propose to Penelope to get them out of having to entertain the wannabe boyfriends. She rejects him like all the others, and when Ulysses shows up they fight.
  • Deadpool and Shiklah. They literally got married as a way of thwarting Dracula. Without being able to marry Shiklah, he's unable to merge their kingdoms and take over. Deadpool later outright admits it again. He states he loves Shiklah, but did not marry her for love, or lust, but strictly to cock-block Dracula. Word of God has also stated exactly the same.
  • In one Donald Duck comic, Donald finds out that to get the job he wants, he has to be married, so he proposes to Daisy. She is very touched at first until he tells her the reason which pisses her off and makes her throw him out.
  • Alan Ford:
    • Make love to...: Alan is married to Minuette Macon so that she'll receive the Green Card, but she finds him so attractive she's in no hurry to end the marriage and eventually the two are married for real in volume 500.
    • Wedding Tris has Geremia and Cariatide marrying the same woman (following the ceremony of the so called "Tris Religion", purely out of business, so that they can improve their pizzeria business.
    • The Baroness Von Strascen, the titular baroness is in dire financial needs, but she will receive a massive sum of Euro on the condition that she gets married, which is why she goes to Las Vegas, looking for a husband and a quick wedding and hiring Alan and Minuette as bodyguards. When her scheming cousing murders all her suitors, she foils his plans and abuses a loophole by marrying Minuette herself (offering her a large sum of money for her trouble). They do divore two days later after (apparently without really consummating the marriage), though the Baroness is still fond of Minuette.
  • Kerry Kross: the issue To the last breath has Melania, Kerry's ex flame, marrying a popcorn tycoon... but as she makes abudnantly clear, only for money, and plans to divorce him as soon as everything's set despite the fact that the man genuinely loves her, and goes as far as to commit suicide. Melania doesn't even care about his death, apparently showing how bad she became since her first appearence.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Flowerbell's Love Triangle", Flowerbell the woodnymph seeks to marry Papa Smurf in order to avoid marrying the greedy treasure hunting imp Avarice from "Smurfette's Dancing Shoes". The two end up marrying to surprise Avarice, although, by the time the wedding is finished, Flowerbell flies away from Papa Smurf, finding herself now free from Avarice.
  • A Marriage Of Convenience: Exactly What It Says on the Tin for this Frozen fanfiction, where, to help Arendelle, Elsa must accept Prince Hans as her husband. Nobody is okay with this, but eventually Hans starts to reform and develop feelings for her.
  • In Concerning Us, the young Janine is strongly advised to find a husband to avoid the social stigma and future hardships in Victorian Britain. She's not thrilled but accepts it as a necessity, and the prospect of a friendship marriage is discussed between her and James, implying they both would be okay with it.
  • Satsuki's narration of Ch. 35 of Cellar Secrets discusses this, along with Nobility Marries Money and a deconstruction of Awful Wedded Life, as she wonders if she should get married to someone to delay Nui helping pick up any financial slack.
    "[...]I wonder if I should find someone wealthy and get married just to secure a constitutable future. Of course, while I had the thought, I would find that to be far worse in comparison, as I'd probably be selling ourselves to a long life of misery. Likewise, I figured that the idea would make little sense as we don't live in any sort of dark or primitive ages where marrying into money was the thing that everyone did."
  • Frostbitten Flower: Celia's parents wrote up a betrothal between Marlin and Celia, for when he was 26 and she was 18, stating that Marlin would marry Celia when she turned 18. The marriage was brought up because Celia's parents don't have much money. In a subversion, Celia ended up marrying for love with another man. Unfortunately, her husband died not even a year into their marriage, leaving Celia to go back to living with Vesta and her brother Marlin.
  • Ghosts and Dreams: This is the reason why Rhaegar and Lyanna got married. Lyanna didn't want to marry Robert, while Aerys forced Rhaegar to take a second wife that would give him a third child by threatening not just him, but Elia and Rhaenys as well. The two of them didn't really fall in love until their stay together in the Tower of Joy.
  • A Magical Evening: In the new timeline, instead of being outed by Cedric and Nettle, Sofia and Lucida enter into marriages with Brock and Doyle (two gay men), respectively. In it, they will be able to hide their sexualities by having a public marriage while they are free to be with whoever they want to. The partners do remain good friends, though, and do end up having a kid as well. Hildegard and Clio supposedly do the same thing as well.
  • In Silver Rings and Golden Hearts, James wants to adopt Penny but the adoption agency won't allow a single person to adopt a special needs child. As a result, James gets his best friend Qrow to marry him.
  • An engagement of convenience is suggested to Harriett and Arcturus in The Rigel Black Chronicles, to protect Harry from a proposed law that would require half-bloods to accept any marriage proposal from a pure-blood. The intent is that they won't actually marry, but it will insulate Harry from any proposals until she's at least of age.
  • In Gold to Airy Thinness Beat, Bucky proposes to Stephanie after he is drafted in order to support and protect her while he's away fighting. As his wife, she has access to his money and his apartment (which is warmer than hers). They have every intention of annulling the marriage after Bucky comes back from the war, only things don't quite go the way they planned.
  • Taken to the logical conclusion in Harry Potter and the Shell of the God-King. Lucius Malfoy and his wife Narcissa married for political reasons. Upon learning that Harry Potter is under the aegis of Illyria, whom Voldemort has recently antagonized, Narcissa divorces her husband, declaring that he's "no longer convenient". She almost immediately goes on to seek a marriage with Harry (or at least an alliance) to insure she'll survive the coming war.
  • The New Retcons:
    • The marriage of Elly and John is revealed to be this: Elly feared being a single mother to Michael after Stan left them and John needed a wife to cook and clean. Elly was the only woman who didn’t call him out for his sexism. It’s speculated that they did develop some form of love for each other, but by the time of Elly’s death, John had been cheating on her for two years with sex workers and her former employee Kortney.
    • In the end of the fic, Elizabeth and Anthony’s marriage has become this, as they’re jaded by everything and need stability for themselves and their children. While they do have some affection for each other, Elizabeth sounds more settled than happy in her final letter.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Aladdin, Iago suggests that Jafar marry Jasmine in order to become Sultan, instead of Jafar's original plan to either kill whoever marries her or plant someone under his control to marry her. Jafar thinks this is actually a good idea and sets about trying to make it happen, but given the film's not called Jafar, it's obvious how that all works out.
  • In Corpse Bride, Mr. and Mrs. Everglot make it clear that they are married for financial reasons, not out of love for each other. They arrange a marriage for their daughter for the same reasons, but the fiancé Victor turns out to be a good man and they are immediately smitten with each other.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In the cinematic Grand Finale, Miss Brooks refuses a heartfelt marriage proposal from Lawrence Nolan because she likes, but doesn't love him. Miss Brooks refuses to marry for anything but love, although Nolan is very wealthy. At the end of the film, she finally achieves her Series Goal and marries Love Interest Philip Boynton.
  • Rose in Titanic is set to marry a man she utterly despises because he makes a good match and is rich. This initially shows how much she hates the society and seeks adventure — cue Jack.
  • In Nanny McPhee, Cedric Brown is being made to marry by the end of the month or else his aunt-in-law cut off his allowance, the only thing supporting himself and his children. With the children having spoiled his previous attempts at finding someone else to marry, he's left to marry a local serial-widower — on the last day of the month. Ultimately subverted, when the Brown children end up ruining the wedding, causing Selma Quickly to leave. They then encourage him and Evangeline — the former scullery maid — to admit their feelings for each other, leading them to marry on the same day.
  • The Santa Clause 2, also known as The Mrs. Clause, finds Scott having to find a wife to marry before Christmas Eve, otherwise he can no longer be Santa. Already he goes through a De-Santafaction process (reverting back to his normal appearance) and although the divorced dad is reluctant, starts an elimination process looking for a woman suitable for marriage. Eventually, he and Principal Carol Newman do genuinely fall in love with each other - something that Scott figured would never happen.
  • King Henry VIII, as played by the late Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days, feels free to pursue Anne Boleyn because his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was made to cement a treaty. As he put it so succinctly: "I do not love that woman. I did not marry her. That was a marriage of state: England married Spain."
  • The biographic film Marie Antoinette (2006) has Marie of Austria delivered to Louis XVI of France at the age of 15 to cement a treaty between the two nations. Neither was really prepared for marriage, and Marie was despised at the French court as "that Austrian whore." Nevertheless, Marie and Louis grew to love each other during their short reign.
  • The Cat in the Hat: Lawrence "Larry" Quinn is dating Sally and Conrad's mother, Joan, and is planning on marrying her - because she's a successful real estate tycoon, while he's a lazy bum who pretends to be a respectable businessman, and marrying her would allow him to mooch off her and not have to work ever again.
  • In The Rebound, it's made a point that Aram is too nice/naive to date Sandy because of how he won't divorce his French ex-wife even though she only married him to get a green card.
  • Gordy: Henry Royce is a wealthy industrialist, and his daughter Jessica is engaged to his public relations director, Gilbert Sipes. At first, it appears that Sipes is sincere in his attempts to help boost Jessica's career as being "the face" of Royce Industries, but we later learn his real intentions is taking over the business after they're married, because he stood a chance at inheriting it all.
  • The main plot point in Double Harness: Joan believes that if she treats marriage like a business, she can get financial security and be happy without letting pesky emotions get in the way.
  • Played for Laughs in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry: Two straight firemen pretend to be gay spouses in order to qualify for married firefighter benefits.
  • Ebullient Squire Will Danaher from The Quiet Man has been itching to woo the widow Sarah Tillane, not for love, but because their landholdings combined would make theirs the largest arable tract in the county. Up until Sean Thornton from America comes along, Widow Tillane will have nothing to do with Danaher.
  • Subverted in Star Trek (2009). Asked by a young Spock why he married Amanda Grayson, Sarek states that it allowed him to observe human behavior for his job as the Vulcan ambassador to Earth, therefore "Marrying your mother was... logical." Later in the film, however, he strongly implies this to have been only a partial truth when he tells an adult Spock that it was a love match.
  • British superspy James Bond gets cosmetic surgery and marries Japanese agent Aki in You Only Live Twice to pose as a native pearl diver in order to get close to a dormant volcano where Bond suspects that SPECTRE has an Elaborate Underground Base. Lampshaded when Bond proposes sleeping together as a "honeymoon":
    Agent Aki: Mister Bond, this is business, not pleasure.
    [Bond pushes away a plate of oysters.]
    James Bond: Won't be needing these, then.
  • In Bend It Like Beckham, near the end of the film, Jess's closeted gay friend Tony suggests to her that they should get married, as this will both help to hide his sexuality from his conservative Indian family and allow her to pursue her dream of playing football in America. Jess refuses on the grounds that she won't let her friend live a lie.
  • This is the main driving force of The Proposal. Margaret is about to be deported so she convinces a co-worker to be her fiancé. He barters with her and gets a publishing deal out of it.
  • The marriage in Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet is The Beard for him and Citizenship Marriage for her. What could possibly go wrong?
  • In Libeled Lady (1936), Bill Chandler and Gladys Benton have a quickie wedding so that Bill can then seduce Connie Allenbury and Gladys can accuse Connie of stealing her husband, thereby defusing Connie's libel suit against a newspaper that called her a homewrecker. Bill sleeps on the couch in their hotel suite during this time, but he and Gladys have to keep up a pretense of being Insatiable Newlyweds whenever any of the staff enter. Eventually, Gladys falls for Bill, but he's already fallen for Connie; Hilarity Ensues.
  • Zus & Zo: Nino's gay, but he's marrying a woman, Bo. Why? Because he has to in order to inherit a hotel worth $1.9 million, which he and Bo will split.
  • In the 1928 film The Wind, the protagonist moves to Texas to stay with a cousin of hers. His wife, however, thinks that she's trying to steal her husband and kicks her out. With nowhere to go and no money of her, Letty is forced to marry one of the men who she previously declined her hand in marriage. She isn't in love with him but at least she has somewhere to stay.
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement: Mia needs a husband to inherit the throne, and so arranges a marriage between herself and Andrew, an English duke. Though she could have done worse (as Andrew himself is genuinely kind, accomplished, and understanding of their position) the two have No Sparks. She calls off the wedding at the altar, to both of their relief.
  • The Abyss: Bud claims that he and Lindsey originally got married because they were due to spend six months on an underwater drilling rig and being married would get them private sleeping quarters instead of bunks.

  • Near the end of the first Arcia Chronicles duology Shander Gardani proposes to Princess Ilana. They don't love each other, but he, having recently been elected king by the people, needs to start a dynasty, while she is on the verge of becoming a nun, having lost pretty much everything. Ultimately, their purely pragmatic marriage results in a genuine love and becomes surprisingly happy for both parties.
  • Dear America:
    • In A Coal Miner's Bride, Anetka marries Stanley because she needs to go to America after she gets in trouble for speaking and teaching Polish, which has been banned by Russia. Stanley needs someone to run the house and care for his three young daughters after the death of his wife Sophie.
    • In Cannons At Dawn, Abigail's mother's cousin Deborah dies in childbirth alongside her baby. Her husband remarries quickly to a woman named Suzanne despite his grief due to him needing someone to care for the children and her needing a roof over her head.
  • In Great Expectations, Miss Havisham raises Estella to be a heartless man-eater who woos men only to completely deny them, and then marries the most boring, rich man she can find so that she can continue doing so but with money. She then grows a heart by being cold when a horse kills her husband and questionably finally gets together with Pip. Miss Havisham trains Estella to want these things because she (Havisham) was left at the altar by the man she wanted to Marry for Love, because he is a criminal.
  • The Guinevere Deception: Arthur and Guinevere are officially married so she can more easily protect him.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta are sold as a couple in order to gain popularity so that one of them can survive the games. When they both survive, they're expected to marry. Whether or not they actually do is left unsaid in the books but they spend their lives together in a loving relationship and have children.
  • In Clan of the Cave Bear, an unmated woman with a child (whether her mate has died or she is without a mate when the child is born) is often mated to a male member of the Clan so that she and her child will have someone to provide for them; otherwise the tribe must collectively provide for them, which isn't preferred. She may become the male's second mate if he already has one.
  • Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice is a famous example. Despite not really liking Mr. Collins, she marries him for financial stability, as he will one day inherit the estate of Longbourn. Since she's plain-looking and an Old Maid, Charlotte knows a better offer isn't likely to come. She defends her choice of a husband to Elizabeth, who always wanted to Marry for Love.
    Charlotte: I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins' character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.
  • In Realm of the Elderlings book Dragon Haven, Hest proposes to Alisa because his family is on his case and she's an Old Maid who he thinks couldn't refuse a proposal. Although his elaborate courtship annoys her, she agrees to marry him when he's honest about his reasons. (The real real reason isn't just family pressure, though. He needs her to be The Beard.)
  • Captain Vorpatril's Alliance: In order to keep Tej and her companion Rish from being deported as illegal immigrants, Ivan Vorpatril proposes this. Because of a quirk of Barrayaran tradition, they only need Ivan's cousin and Rish as witnesses and are married seconds before the immigration officers beak down the door. They eventually turn out to have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • Hollow Kingdom Trilogy: Although not in the trilogy proper, this is the ending for one of the villains. Thorn, after having spent a lifetime abusing his wife and bullying the small group of elves he leads, is punished by the goblins for trying to steal back his wife, with the same afflictions he had hurt his wife with or abused her for. This goes on for several years until he is found by the Elf King, who forbids him to remarry due to his history. Thorn attempts to live as a good elf until the day an elf woman is widowed. Because of elvish society, only children take their own shares of food, while men take their and their wife's shares. So that she isn't humiliated, Thorn takes a share for her. The Elf King decides that it can only continue if the elf woman chooses to marry Thorn, which she does. This finally seals Thorn's redemption.
  • In I Heard That Song Before, it's speculated that the reason Peter married Kay after a brief courtship is because she had told him about the argument she overheard in the Carrington chapel, the day his college girlfriend Susan disappeared, not realizing she could've overheard Peter and Susan. By marrying her, Peter has ensured she cannot, or at least wouldn't, testify against him if he were ever charged with Susan's murder. Even Kay herself starts to wonder if this is the real reason Peter wanted to marry her, as much as it sickens her. It's not true; Peter wasn't the man Kay overheard arguing with Susan and he married Kay because he truly fell in love with her.
  • In GeneStorm: City in the Sky, Snapper "marries" Beau because he's descended from the family that owned the resort-city of Mistral which makes him an automatic Board member as far as the computers are concerned, but they need two in order to call off the quarantine robots set to kill all mutants, including them. Fortunately, the security computers could register marriages quickly.
  • In the short story "Something to Worry About" by P. G. Wodehouse, a teenage girl's parents exile her to the country because they think she is too obsessed with boys. This so infuriates her that, within a week of arriving in the country, she convinces four different boys to propose to her and accepts all four proposals.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda marries Pierre Gringoire because Clopin, the King of the Gypsies, won't hang him if he is of their people, even by marriage.
  • Isabel Allende:
    • In Portrait in Sepia, Williams, Paulina del Valle's butler, proposes an alternative to being released from her service when she makes plans to move back to Chile. He suggests they marry so that he can keep serving her to the best of her ability. He makes it clear that he does not have romantic intentions and even counsels her to take the necessary precautions to keep her wealth in her name. It works; by virtue of being a man he has access to circles that are off-limits to Paulina, and being her husband improves his status of living. Plus, Paulina loves the idea of scandalizing whoever learns she is married to her butler.
    • A Long Petal of the Sea: A number 8 example. After the Spanish Civil War is over, Víctor marries his late brother's wife Roser so that she and her son can go with him to Chile and start a new life. He is motivated by loyalty to his late brother, not romantic intents.
  • In Warrior Cats, Crowfeather and Nightcloud's relationship has been described by the authors as one: he knew that with a mate and kits he'd be trusted more by his Clan again, and Nightcloud figured that he was a strong young cat that was going to be "going places".
  • In Dragon Bones, the father of the protagonist married for convenience. He despises his wife and cheats on her with her illegitimate half-sister, whom he didn't want to marry because she's considered a commoner. On his deathbed, he says that he regrets his choice and should have married the illegitimate sister. In the presence of his wife, whom he abused throughout the marriage.
  • A relatively common trope in historical romance, notably in Georgette Heyer's The Convenient Marriage, A Civil Contract, Friday's Child, and The Reluctant Widow. In each case, the marriage goes differently depending on the couple and circumstances. In Devil's Cub the hero proposes this to the heroine, as a way of avoiding scandal, but she refuses because she is really in love with him and can't bear the thought of a cold marriage to him. In The Corinthian the heroine and the hero Meet Cute because both are escaping this trope (with different people) at the same moment.
  • In the chick-lit novel School for Husbands, there is a big convoluted scheme to get Sophie to marry Simon. For Sophie's mother, by divorcing current husband Mark who is deemed as too low ranking for their reasonably upper-middle-class family, she would be able to brag and be more popular among her aristocratic neighbours — for Simon, he gets to be in line for a promotion as the executives who just took over the company he works at believe in marriage and family values and are rumoured to either not promote or flat-out fire those who are uncoupled — Sophie would, of course, be infinitely provided for out of Simon's vast wealth. She stays with Mark, who is not the massive d-bag that Simon is.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas and Liz Cromwell are Happily Married, but it didn't start as a love match. After Thomas proved himself an able and trustworthy business associate for her father, Henry Wykys, Henry told Thomas he could feel free to marry her because she was looking for a new husband anyway, being a widow. Henry is a little bemused when Liz and Thomas decided to talk the matter over first before agreeing.
  • Brother Cadfael: In The Rose Rent, the widow Judith receives a number of marriage proposals, one of them from a middle-aged wool merchant who has the decency not to frame it as anything but a sound business move (since his main competition consists of a foppish young man only interested in spending her wealth). She ends up marrying the bronzesmith, the one man who never showed any interest in her fortune and helped her unquestioningly in her time of need.
  • At the beginning of Wylder's Hand, Mark Wylder and Dorcas Brandon have agreed to get married as a means of combining their two families into one and thus settling a long-standing feud over which family rightfully owns certain valuable property. It's strictly a business arrangement; neither loves the other and in fact, each has somebody else they'd rather be with if they had their preference.
  • In The Brothers' War, Urza initially had no interest in the Engagement Challenge for Kayla bin-Kroog's hand, thinking it was stupid and a waste of time. Then he learned that her dowry included a rare Thran tome that could be used to further his research on artifice. Cue Urza throwing his hat in the ring. Once he won the competition and consummated the marriage, he set to work studying the tome, treating his new bride almost as an afterthought.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • In "King and Brooks", an Indian maharajah proposes marriage to Miss Brooks. Miss Brooks refuses to marry for convenience, it's only a marriage for love that appeals to Connie. However, the fact that Miss Brooks would be the polygamous maharajah's fourth wife had something to do with her reluctance!
    • In the cinematic Grand Finale, Miss Brooks refuses a heartfelt marriage proposal from Lawrence Nolan because she likes, but doesn't love him. Miss Brooks again refuses to marry for anything but love, although Nolan is very wealthy. At the end of the film, she finally achieves her Series Goal and marries Love Interest Philip Boynton.
  • In Revenge:
    • Emily begins to date and then agree to marry the son her own age of the family who killed her father in order to get close to them and enact her revenge.
    • In the fourth season, Nolan marries Louise to free her from her mother's control.
  • Dixie of Casualty is one of British TV's longest-running lesbian characters, and this fact is well known - to everyone but her dad. Because she is inseparable from her paramedic partner Jeff, though, he asks her to marry him so that her dad can see her married before he dies. It seems to be going well until the dad catches Dixie with her girlfriend, the officiator, before the wedding - but accepts her, and Dixie and Jeff stay married even after he dies in a best-friends-over-40 style arrangement at least until Jeff dies.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney's mother had a health scare some years ago, and he hired an actress to play his wife. Unfortunately, his mom lived, so he had to keep up the charade every time he visited her for the holidays, even hiring a young actor to play his son too.
  • Blackadder: In "The Queen of Spain's Beard" Edmund is first betrothed to the Spanish Infanta and later is married off to a princess of Hungarynote  because of his father King Richard's political machinations.
  • On Mad Men, Bob Benton offers to marry Joan Harris so that she can avoid the stigma of being a single mother (and so that he can avoid questions about his sexuality.) She turns him down, not wanting to get stuck in another unhappy marriage.
  • M*A*S*H: Frank's marriage to Louise is certainly this. It's joked throughout his stint on the series that he married her mainly for money - Frank himself has pointed out that she owns the house and stocks, and that he's in her father's will, and B.J. also once mentioned that she also owns real estate.
  • Game of Thrones: Many marriages are political in nature. Specifically, Walder Frey's common price for allowing important people to cross his bridge in times of need is a husband for one of his daughters or granddaughters, Danaerys declared she would marry Hizdahr zo Loraq in an attempt to bring peace to Meereen, Tyrion was arranged to marry Sansa so that he would produce an heir, and Sansa's marriage to Ramsay Bolton was political on both sides - to give the Boltons' rule in Winterfell legitimacy and to allow her to go home.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Lwaxana Troi finds herself pregnant and in the middle of a divorce, resulting in a custody battle. Odo does some research and finds that the laws of her ex-husband's culture specify that the husband of the child's mother has primary legal rights. He then offers to quickly marry Lwaxana himself, legally cutting her ex out of the loop.
  • Shtisel: When Akiva's daughter is taken away by the welfare board, Racheli agrees to marry Akiva to put on a good image for the committee, who are more likely to return a child to a couple than to a single father.
  • The protagonists of The Americans are a pair of Soviet spies who are ordered to pretend to be a married couple as part of their cover.
  • The first episode of Thunder in Paradise involved Spencer getting into such a marriage: The woman needs a husband as a condition to keep her inheritance, and offers him the money he's in dire need of. The woman dies in an off-camera car crash a few episodes later.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Catalina gets deported after she is caught driving without a license and it's revealed that she's The Illegal. Since it was Earl's fault (he was supposed to give her a lift to work, but was too busy gambling), Earl travels to her home country along with Randy in order to get her back into the US. Since Randy had a huge crush on her, Earl deliberately fails the tests that a prospective groom must pass, so Randy can pass them and marry Catalina. He gets her back into the country, but she doesn't want to be married to Randy, so on the advice of Joy, she has really disgusting sex with him...which doesn't turn out the way she hoped. After that, Randy tells her it's just going to be a Citizenship Marriage...and that is never brought up in-series again. It isn't known if they are still (legally) married later in the series, or if they got a divorce or an annulment at some point.
  • The premise of Ned & Stacey: Ned needed to be married to secure a promotion, and Stacey needed to move out of her parents' house and Ned had a great apartment.
  • Frontier (2016): Mrs. Carruthers needs a new husband to be the official face of her fur trading business since she is unlikely to be taken seriously as an independent businesswoman in the 18th century. She uses her influence to get the Brown brothers released from prison after they were arrested on trumped-up charges, on the condition that one of them (she doesn't care which) agrees to a platonic marriage. This later becomes a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • In the Decoy episode "The Lieutenant Had a Son", a struggling nineteen-year-old single mother marries a man two decades her senior because she needs money and a father for her son, and he's lonely and can't find a wife. It actually works out pretty well - the two of them eventually grow to genuinely love each other, and the boy forms a close bond with his new father.
  • In the second season of Night Court, Mac marries a woman named Quon Le Duc that he helped out when he served in Vietnam in order to keep her from getting deported. However, he quickly realizes that she genuinely has feelings for him. The two end up staying married for the remainder of the series.
  • In A Very English Scandal, the "80% gay" Jeremy Thorpe gets married to a woman, mostly as a cover for his (at the time illegal) homosexuality and also possibly insurance for his past affair with Norman, as well as for a move that would improve his public perception. He even considers giving her a baby quickly and then begging off sex forever. Despite this, he ends up genuinely loving his wife (platonically) and new family, and is genuinely devastated at her death; he eventually remarries and forms a great relationship with his second wife as well.
  • Waco: Koresh is facing a conundrum with his second 'wife', the teenage Michelle, as polygamy and having sex with a minor you aren't married to are illegal. So he marries her to Thibodeau to ward off questions by authorities, but the marriage is in name only.

  • The couple in Mary Chapin Carpenter's "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" are a case of this, where couples in The Deep South are forced together young for good matches and speedy children. The wife doesn't like it very much and leaves her good husband.
  • In "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" by Meat Loaf, a seventeen-year-old boy proposes to his girlfriend because that is the only way she will agree to have sex with him. They both live to regret it.

  • The Bible has the concept of "Levirate marriage": if a woman's husband dies and she has no son, the deceased's next-of-kin is obligated to marry her. This is partly to continue the family line (the first boy born by the second husband is legally considered the son of the first), and partly just to make sure the woman is cared for. It's not always convenient for the new husband, though, a fact that's exploited by Boaz in the Book of Ruth.

  • In The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Grusha's decision to raise an infant abandoned by his mother leads to gossip about where the child came from, so her family persuade her to marry a dying man so she can have a home and an easy answer to questions about where the child's father is. The marriage becomes decidedly inconvenient when her new husband makes an unexpected recovery, leaving her stuck with an unpleasant man who's considerably more interested than she is in moving the marriage out of in-name-only territory.
  • A song in Fiddler on the Roof is called "Matchmaker" and has Chava and Hodel ask Tzeitel to find a perfect husband for Arranged Marriage both because they need to find a man to please the parents and so that they will not be alone.
  • Lord Admiral Porter comes aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore to court Josephine, the daughter of the ship's captain. However, when it's revealed that the captain was Switched at Birth, it renders Josephine too low on the caste ladder for an admiral to woo. Lord Admiral Porter heaves a sigh and avers that he will propose to his second cousin Hebe instead so that his time aboard the Pinafore won't be a total waste.
  • In Leading Ladies, Meg and Duncan are engaged essentially because he was kind to her.
    "You see, he was friends with my mother and father, here in York, and they passed away when I was young. And he was very kind when they died, and helped me get through it. And so it means a lot to me. That we can talk about them."

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy IX: Zidane and Garnet get married in Conde Petie so that the dwarves will allow them access to the path to the Iifa Tree. The two aren't in love at the time, though Zidane is trying to romance Garnet. You can also optionally choose to have Vivi and Quina marry.
    • Final Fantasy X: The concept is discussed by Lulu and Tidus in Guadosalam about the marriage of Yuna and Seymour.
  • Fate/stay night: King Arthur and Guinevere married solely because the perfect king needed the perfect wife. Unfortunately, Guinevere had absolutely no idea how to do anything since she had been raised to be little more than a pretty bauble, and Arthur didn't help because she was a woman herself and certainly didn't know how to be a husband. Lancelot fell in love with Guinevere and seduced her almost on accident because Guinevere had no defense against such things. Arthur forgave Lancelot, but Mordred was able to take advantage of the problems this caused to stage a rebellion and bring down Camelot.
  • Rise of the Third Power: Princess Arielle and Prince Gage's marriage is for the sake of strengthening the alliance between their home countries, Cirinthia and Arkadya respectively. The Resistance kidnaps Arielle to prevent this alliance, since will eventually result in Tariq being set upon by both countries. Later on, Arielle and Gage get married for real, but for the sake of proving Arielle's legitimacy to Cirinthia so she can oust Lord Phillip. Downplayed on Gage's end, since he genuinely loves Arielle, though Arielle admits that she has mixed feelings due to Gage's past misdeeds.

    Web Animation 
  • Prince Stolas from Helluva Boss is heavily implied to be married to his wife Stella for political reasons, and neither of them has really cared for each other. Though he does say he did try to make it work once. When he starts sleeping around on her Stella is more annoyed that he's in a relationship with Hell's equivalent of a commoner than the fact he's cheating on her, while his daughter who he cares for deeply is worried that her parent's marriage is falling apart and her beloved father is going to run off with his new paramount, not quite understanding that the marriage was never that strong to begin with.

  • What Happens in Carpediem...: There are in-game benefits to declaring another character your spouse, including item-sharing, credit-sharing, and MP restoration via kissing.
  • Mentioned in Terminal Lance as a repeated idea. Here in 2018, 2015 and all the way back in 2010
  • Muted: The Severin family are funded by marriages of convenience, to the point where they summon demons on their 21st birthday to wish for rich husbands.
  • This Is An Obvious Fraudulent Marriage: Leyrin Efran becomes a countess overnight, but must be legally wed to secure her family’s title and estate. Not wanting to suffer through a loveless marriage, Leylin decides to find a husband to have a one-year contract marriage with. She enlists the infamous Nine Knights Guild to find a man of lower rank to keep the empire at bay, and ends up married to the feared Baron Kalied.
  • Til Debt Do Us Part: Subin initially agrees to marry Yejun for a year because he had offered to clear the large amount of money she owed him. Yejun only wants a wife to make his ailing grandmother happy before she goes.

    Web Video 
  • Headless: A Sleepy Hollow Story: When Matilda and Brom get caught snooping around Mayor Van Tassel's house by his assistant Judy, they pretend to be in a Secret Relationship to cover up that they are investigating the mayor for murder. When Judy tells them that she's a marriage officiant, she suggests she could marry them so they could legally be together without a public ceremony. Matilda and Brom, who are actually repulsed by each other, are forced to go through with it.

    Western Animation 
  • Rocko's Modern Life. In "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign", a mix-up involving Rocko's green card and immigration papers revokes his U.S. citizenship, so to avoid him being deported back to Australia, Heffer arranges a fake marriage between him and Filburt; Rocko thinks the idea is absurd, and Filburt actually takes it seriously and turns into a nagging housewife.
  • American Dad!: The episode "Shallow Vows" reveals that Stan only married Francine for her looks, but eventually grew to love her and even blinded himself to prove that he can love her without looking at her. Later, it turns out that Francine in turn married Stan so he can provide for her, and they both decide that they're even.
  • Kaeloo parodies the trope in one episode where Pretty decides to get married - to Quack Quack, who she doesn't even like - just to get the chance to wear a wedding dress. When the others try to call her out on this, she goes on a rant about how much pain she had to endure to lose enough weight to be able to fit into the dress.
  • The Lion Guard has a downplayed example between Rani and Kion. There were romantic feelings involved, but the two hadn't known each other for very long and weren't even in a relationship before she proposed. Her reasoning basically went "I know we're just teenagers, but I really don't want to shoulder the burden of ruling on my own, and if we end up falling in love, that's fine too."
  • The Simpsons: In "A Fish Called Selma," Marge's sister Selma starts dating washed-up actor Troy McClure and eventually marries him. It turns out Troy only dated Selma because his agent advised him that being seen in a relationship with a woman could repair Troy's reputation by casting doubt on the rumors of him having a fish fetish (and the implication he was banned from an aquarium for doing something unspeakable with the fish there). Troy drunkenly blabs the truth to Homer at his bachelor party, and Homer blithely tells Marge the night after Selma's married. Marge and Patty confront Selma, who refuses to believe them until she confronts Troy herself. Troy not only happily admits their marriage is a sham, he convinces Selma to go along with it for all the perks she'll get as a celebrity's wife. However, Selma decides to leave Troy when his agent proposes the two have a baby to get more publicity. Selma refuses to raise a child, biological or adopted, in a loveless marriage.
  • Moral Orel: The Season 3 episode "Help" shows how Orel's parents, Clay and Bloberta, met and got married, also displaying how dysfunctional their relationship has been from the start. Bloberta's primary motivation for getting married in the first place was because all the other ladies around her were getting married, and she was getting desperate. The two met at a wedding reception and despite the numerous red flags (namely, Bloberta introducing Clay to alcohol and his less-than-stellar behavior afterwards), they went through with their own ceremony from just that initial meeting. The two have been miserable ever since, but because of the ultra-religious town they live in, there's no way they can get a divorce due to the blow their reputation would take.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Marry For Convenience, Sham Marriage


Stolas calls out Stella

After having put up with more than enough of Stella's emotional abuse and taunting, Stolas finally calls out his wife for her petty actions towards him, ending with demanding she leaves and declaring he wants a divorce.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (31 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheReasonYouSuckSpeech

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