How Do I Reload This !@#*! Thing

cover_petticoatranch_sm.jpgA Marriage of Convenience—a classic device in romance writing because you need to stick your hero and heroine together, then find a way to give them a conflict big enough to keep them apart, while they’re stuck together. So, a marriage between two people who aren’t in love (yet) works perfectly. My novel Petticoat Ranch contains a marriage of convenience. The sequel, Calico Canyon has a forced marriage and that’s a different and also time honored Calico Canyon Coverdevice. My characters in Calico Canyon have to marry for reasons of propriety. They spent the night together, in perfect innocence, now, if they don’t marry, the heroine’s reputation is ruined.

We think of a marriage of convenience as wholly fictional. They don’t really happen. But my grandparents had a real life marriage of convenience. My grandfather’s first wife died giving birth to their second child, that child died, too. As his wife lay there, knowing she was dying, she told my grandfather she wanted him to marry her old college roommate, Latta Snyder. She wanted Latta to raise their older child. Well, trying to imagine that scene is pretty horrifying, especially to a writer, being blessed with both an extremely vivid imagination and an ability to fictionalize almost anything and make it even more angst laden. Grandpa obeyed. He married my grandmother.

Marriage of ConvenienceHere’s the deal though, and where this coincides with Petticoat Ranch. Grandma and Grandpa had their first child about 15 months after they got married. So let’s face it, it was a real marriage in all ways. This picture is of my mother and her siblings. The oldest child is the first born, the others are stairsteps, four kids in less than eight years. My mom is the littlest one, on the far right. IF you click on the picture it’ll get bigger. My grandparents got married, they knew what that meant. In Petticoat Ranch, I didn’t dwell on the wedding night at all. So later, when she’s pregnant, I had a lot of letters asking, ‘When did this happen?’

My answer? The first night, people. They were married. They knew what that meant.

Which got me thinking about modern marriages of convenience. Don’t you think Bill and Hillary Clintonthese qualify? Bill and Hillary Clinton in their now famous, “Stand By Your Man” 60 Minutes interview that saved Clinton’s candidacy in 1992.

James McGreeveyGov. James McGreevey, with his wife at his side as he confesses to the people of New Jersey that he was having an affair with his male employee.

 Eliot Spitzer

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, with his very frazzled wife, talking about his Call Girl compulsion.

Larry CraigSen. Larry Craig, with his wife, who has got to be hiding behind those sunglasses, explaining how he was arrested in a restroom while trying to ‘arrange’ a tryst with a man.

My favorite line on this type of very public mess was from Texas Congressman Dick Armey during the Monica Lewinsky flap.

He said, If I were in the President’s place I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, ‘How do I reload this !@#! thing?'”   

Would you Stand By Your Man?

Do these woman even care about these men, or are they political animals like their husbands and their only emotion is humiliation, not a broken heart?

Do these count as modern day marriages of convenience?

Do you know anyone with a marriage of convenience?

img_6416.jpgAnd isn’t that picture with my mom and her big brother and sisters a beautiful marriage of convenience, so much better than these others?

Mary Connealy, proud granddaughter of a very successful and happy Marriage of Convenience and author of Petticoat Ranch and soon to be released Calico Canyon.

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

39 thoughts on “How Do I Reload This !@#*! Thing”

  1. Oh wow! I’m first. Cool. That is a darling picture Mary! What an amazing story your grandparents had. Thanks for sharing.

    PS., I don’t care about anybody’s marriage but my own 🙂

  2. I think the picture is Precious!! I loved the story about your GrandParents!! as for Eliot Spitzer…please don’t get me started on this… when i saw this on T.V. i wish i knew this woman-(his wife) my heart sank watching her standing there I could feel the humiliation coming threw the t.v. I wish i could have called someone and said please go get her off that stage can’t you see how humiliated she is? I felt so bad for her I wish she would have looked right at the camera and made a public announcement I’m better than this to stand by someone that has hurt and humiliated me,and slapped him across the face I would have been no good after that LOL I have a feeling she may not be standing by her man by the look on her face that day I hope not anyway! Sorry for going on about it, I couldn’t help myself.

  3. What an awesome picture, and the puppies…well, it’s just precious!

    People didn’t know how your character got pregnant:
    You know, for me fiction has changed so much from when we used to read and “assume” people were sleeping together between the lines. Perhaps readers nowadays have read so many love scenes that their imaginations don’t go there without being told. Is that a possibility?

    Remember black and white couples like Rob and Laura Petry, who slept in twin beds and kissed innocently on camera? Zoom forward to Ray Barone conniving ways to get Debra to have sex when she doesn’t want to.

    I may need to blog on this. LOL

  4. I ended the scene of their first evening together with her going to her bedroom wondering where he was going to sleep.

    The last line…”She didn’t have long to wonder.”

    Okay, I meant … because he came in and slept with her. And I thought, from the next mornings interaction that would be abundantly clear, I mean they were kissing and affectionate and… well, someone told me they took, “She didn’t have long to wonder.” to mean, she fell asleep right away.
    LOL so NOT what I was going for. I wonder if I could have a chance at a rewrite? I have one more sentence that I think would clear up EVERYTHING.

  5. Lori, What do you think is going on with those women? Of those four political catastrophes three are still married couples. Although it’s early days for the Spitzers.

    There might be a psychological bounce to having your wife, “Stand by you.” But honestly I think most people see that and think, Let the poor woman go hide.
    It’s not enough that you publically humiliate her with her behavior, now you’ve got to deepen that by making her stand there, knowing the whole WORLD will dissect every flicker of an eyes. Even the fact that her hair was dissheveled. Very icky.

  6. BTW, my mom turns 80 in two weeks.

    She’s no more than three in that picture, born in 1929 so, do the math, carry the one, this was taken in 1931-32?

    Whoa, dustbowl…

    Interesting side note…my grandparents had never met before Grandpa road out on a train to Washington State where she lived with her parents. They settled the marriage decision through letters.

    My grandpa was a Nebraska farmer with an 8th grade education…born in 1889, I believe. My grandma had a masters degree and was a librarian who lived with her parents, her father, a judge.

    She was a spinster(horrible word), nearly thirty, when they married. I suppose that was considered a terrible failure, even though she was educated, a talented pianist and she’d traveled and studied in Europe.

    So this offer of marriage probably ‘saved’ her.

  7. Mary – You know, those men who allow the women they wronged stand by them, are really low-lifes. If they really cared about their wives, they wouldn’t expect them to stand by their sides after the way they betrayed them.
    Forgiveness, comes later, if at all.
    And not in public.

  8. I absolutely agree. But why do the women DO IT? No man can MAKE you do anything, at least not outside a compound in Texas.

    Are they just so used to their ‘duty’ the ‘public face’ of their marriage? That’s why I loved the Dick Armey quote. I think it’s a lot closer to the truth. To the way a wife might really react.

    Standing there, usually looking just AWFUL, I don’t know, it’s weird. These are strong women, good grief, HILLARY???? Why didn’t she just grind him into man-paste????

    That’s why I wonder if these truly are marriages of convenience. So yes, it’s humiliating, but are their hearts broken? Or have they known about their husbands…predilictions…forever and only hope to keep it secret so they can keep sharing the power?

  9. What a great topic, Mary!

    I love a good discussion like this — I agree with Charlene — and I think those women who “stand by their man, even though he’s having affairs with call girls and men and young girls under age” — are just as bad as their husbands.

    When a little boy is bad, he doesn’t learn his lesson if you just say, “Oh, that’s okay,” and don’t teach him God’s law of “you get back what you give out,” not to mention the hurt that it does to other people’s lives. Not to mention their future as an eternal being or soul.

    And to think that these people think they should dictate to the general public what’s are good laws, when they can’t keep their pants zipped? In my humble opinion, the age of tar and feathering certainly kept one’s ethics in — and with our corrupted court system and misplaced justice, these people often seem to walk away free — of course, it’s never really so — each person eventually has to attone for his actions against others — but they certainly influence others in a bad way. Because of Clinton’s terrible example to this country, there are young people who think that oral sex isn’t sex and it’s not cheating. Hmmm…

  10. What I’d REALLY like, Charlene, is to see Eliot Spitzer standing there and his wife just start swatting him with her purse. Just clobber him.
    Stand by THIS loser.

    I’ll add here that we’ve got both sides of the political spectrum here. No one political mindset has a the corner on this kind of stuff.

    Yeah, that Clinton stuff…you know I LEARNED some new stuff with that one(stuff I seriously wish I could unlearn). Let alone kids!!!

  11. Hi Mary:
    Wow this is a really tough topic. I’m not sure the modern day relationships you mentioned qualify as a marriages of convenience.I think that these women really suffer but it is truly their private pain and I think the public needs to leave them and their families alone.

    Historically,in other countries, marriages of convenience occurred because it brought two families together usually for financial motives or to increase a family’s land holdings. My paternal grandparents came from neighboring villages in Greece and had an arranged marriage.WWII changed their way of life and the nature of their relationship. It was tough and in all honesty my grandmother held their family together when they immigrated to the U.S.

    I think if women had been allowed to be financially more independent then these marriages would not have occurred.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

  12. Za, I agree with you the press is ridiculous these days, the way they snoop and publish ANYTHING, including stuff that ends up being untrue.

    But how can THIS count. This isn’t Britney Spears shaving her head. This isn’t a telephoto lens taking a close up of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s cellulite.

    This is the Governor of New York, arrested, press conference? Resigning.

    No responsible press can skip talking about THAT.

    Gov and Mrs are the ones who are standing there of their own volition.

    Just one good whack with the purse. I’d love it.

  13. I agree. This is a tough topic. I do think that today often marriages occur for financial and political and social gain.

    New money wants to have the approval of old money. Old money wants a ticket to inside tres chic social circles. Young, beautiful, and Hollywood wants financial security. The book (and the movie with Deborah Messing) The Starter Wife is an example of that.

    It’s a tax advantage to marry these days and marriage can hide a multitude of sins. So sad. Of course these are situations I can only observe from afar. (while scratching my head)

    We are very fortunate that our culture tells us to marry for love. I often think of the Kristen Dunst portrayal of Marie Antoinette and her marriage that united two countries…well for a time. 🙂

  14. My mother in law is 89 and she said the reason marriages lasted in her day was simple. There was no divorce…so you figured out a way to get along.

    That’s it.

    You learned to co-exist. And in the end, that is probably the basis for more happy marriages. No two people are in complete harmony. Well, some are I suppose.

    I tried to write a fictionalized novel about my grandparents. I got about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way done but I’ve set it aside. It feels very weird to try and capture a relationship like that. I mean it makes a great romance novel, the story, but for a romance novel to work you need conflict, a bad guy, trauma and passion and black moments where all is lost.

    My mom said her folks always seemed to get along great. Not like touchy-feely romantic but very respectful and united. It was a good marriage.

    I suspect…and again, how can you know what really goes on inside a marriage…that my father’s parents marriage was at least somewhat a marriage of convenience, too.

    My grandpa came home wounded from WWI, he inhaled Mustard Gas in France and his lungs were damaged and he wasn’t expected to live long.

    At age 30 he married my grandma, 19. Why would she marry a sick–maybe dying–man 11 years her senior?

    They had one child ten years later, my dad, so there was something going on there, 🙂 but my dad said his father was mostly pretty sick, prone to pneumonia, and it just sounded more like my grandma was a care taker, a nurse, than a wife.

  15. Another fabulous post, Mary. I love marriages of convenience or forced marriages. I can get love scenes written then without the guilt LOL. But I honestly never heard of a real one. Congrats on your grandparents for making it work. As for the political wives who stand by their men, wouldn’t work for me. Much less having to do it in front of a bazillion cameras. I value fidelity above all things. I feel so bad for the kids…especially the daughters. And I think I’d be tempted to bring a baseball bat along…

  16. Great Blog, Mary! And my answer to your question is…at first I did, then at last I didn’t. Nuff said.
    The book I just finished (current title, THE BORROWED BRIDE, no release date yet) is a marriage of convenience story. Younger brother Quint goes gold hunting in Alaska, unknowing leaving his sweetheart Hannah pregnant. Elder brother Judd marries her to give the baby the family name. They draw up divorce papers so Quint can marry her when he gets back. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way…

  17. I really love them in books, too. It’s just a great way to stick a couple together. They are a stretch in contemporary novels, although I’ve seen them work. But for historicals…lots of fun there.

    In Calico Canyon, the Force Marriage, I just had such a good time with that. She hides in his wagon, to escape her abusive adoptive father. He finds her, unconscious from the bitter cold, miles and miles from town and has to take her into his tiny cabin…with his five sons…to save her life.

    The next morning the parson stops by, everyone is searching for the missing school marm. He finds them together and they are forced to marry.

    I had so much fun writing that scene. The fire and brimstone parson thundering that she was ‘ruined.’

    The school marm, who’d just kicked his kids out of school yesterday, begging for a ride home with the parson…except she knows her father is out there…still, she’d much rather be ruined than marry that horrible rude Daniel Reeves and get stuck with his five out-of-control sons.

    Daniel is just plain horrified. He was a coyote who would have gladly gnawed his paw off to get out of the trap he was in.

    And his sons????? They’ve been wanting a new ma, but not THIS ONE. “You slept with her for a night and she wasn’t that good. Return her.”

    Of course she was unconscious. Daniel lay next to her to save her life. Nothing sinful happened for Pete’s sake. But try explaining that to the parson. 😀

    Very fun, chaotic scene. Grace is so busy yelling at Daniel and the boys that when one of the boys asks her if she wants to go to town and she yells, “I do!”
    The parson pronounces them man and wife and leaves. She has no idea what he left for.

    But Daniel knows.

  18. I PREFER to think of marriage of convenience as wholly fictional. The heroes have honor, the heroine’s have spunk 😉

    I’m in Mrs. Amey’s corner. Cheating on a spouse is a trust you don’t break and seldom regain. One strike, and you’re not worthy. And I’m so sick of watching public apologies from filthy politicians to their puppet wives. It’s degrading and infuriating. Honestly, I look at our candidates for the Presidency and think, “Seriously? THAT is the best America has to offer???” I find it rather frightening.

  19. I think our political system is broken.
    How else can you explain the last nine elections either having a Clinton or a Bush as presidential or vice presidential contenders?

    It’s like they found the secret decoder ring and learned how to make the system work for them.

    I think a lot of decent people just refuse to put their families through the degradation of the years of public scrutiny. And that’s people who HAVEN’T ever done anything wrong. Imagine if you’ve got skeletons in your closet?

    Except then why would people with these weird predilictions, like hookers and unfaithfulness … etc. run for office. Or do they get crazy after they get elected. Some power trip where they think they’re untouchable. And are many of them doing this and NOT getting caught? You’d have to think, in this day and age of phone cameras and everything recorded that you’d be caught, and yet they go ahead and do these things.

  20. That’s because the white house owns the media and the tone for TOLERNANCE pojected by the media is just as revolting. Some days I think Comedy Central gives the best view on candidates and a clearer view on politics 😉

  21. I wonder if, considering the brutality of a campaign, the best and the brightest haven’t figured out that there’s a fortune to be made in news, talk radio, cable commentary shows.

    These things didn’t used to exist.

    The ones who can make their case with the most charisma can get so rich without the hassle of running for office.

    George Stephanopolis, chief of staff for the Clintons, is doing Sunday Morning news.

    Chris Matthews who used to work for Tip O’Neill has Hardball on msnbc.

    Newt Gingrich resigned from the House of Representatives and now does commentary on Fox News.

    Rush Limbaugh could make great campaign speeches but he’d have to take a huge cut in pay.

    Even Al Gore, you KNOW he’s having more fun, and getting richer, being a celebrity and working on his cause through movies and books and tv, etc. than he would be as president.

  22. Mary, great post and tough topic for present times.

    And YES, America, I am one of the intelligent FEW who understood what Mary DIDN’T say in Petticoat Ranch…

    I remember e-mailing her right after I read that part about where he was going to sleep and and twitting her with something like, “Phew! Such rampant physical contact…” or some such make-fun-of-Mary thing, so I’m taking full credit for being able to read Mary’s mind, ’cause heaven knows, most of America didn’t, LOL!

    Spitzer: Total scumbag. I’m a New Yorker, I didn’t vote for him, I told everyone who would listen (this includes three dogs, two cats and one non-verbal baby) not to vote for him because they still respect my somewhat haughty opinions. If it smells like a power-hungry scumbag and walks like a power-hungry scumbag, then most likely….

    You get it.

    And to have his WIFE there, standing by his side? I wanted to smack both of them, I mean this was only a couple of weeks after Roger Clemens, the multi-millionaire baseball player, stood in front of a Senate sub-committee and blamed his mother and his wife for his steroid scandal.

    Are ya’ kiddin’ me? I think ninety percent of America (well, of the baseball lovers like me that paid attention) shook their heads and checked “guilty as charged” because what kind of man does that?

    The kind that can’t accept blame or take responsibility for his own actions.

    Do I hear pigs snorting somewhere????

    Okay, need to calm down.

    Mary, I’m so with you on this, and not one of those couples would have made a marriage of convenience romance novel, but I can’t believe they love and respect one another at this point. Use one another, deal with one another, doing what they think is best for political aspirations, etc, but not love.

    So, yeah, I’m in league with the gun-holding wife. Not that I’d really kill Dave.

    I wouldn’t be around long enough to take time to find the bullets.


  23. But Dave would never do this…plus he hides the weapons. I advised him too.

    Because Ruthy has a similar reaction to this when she is denied her Starbucks fix.

  24. Eleanor Roosevelt stayed married to Franklin Roosevelt (President) because she wanted the title of First Lady. She knew he had a mistress. When he died, she flew to tell his mistress. So yes, I believe a lot in the White House stay married for the title and prestige.
    However a loveless marriage I would never want.
    But why judge those in the white house as others have affairs and their wives chose to stand by them and forgive them. But the trust is usually hard to repair.
    Enjoy this blog.

  25. Hi, Jane. Jane said: But why judge those in the White House as others have affairs and their wives chose to stand by them and forgive them. But the trust is usually hard to repair.

    Very true. I guess it’s the utter PUBLIC-NESS of it that makes me wonder.

    Honestly, some of these guys… If I was married to some of them I’d probably be helping them find a phone number for who-ever or what-ever it’d take to get them to leave me alone.

  26. My question is—is there really a marriage of convenience. It seems as if the marriage becomes real in every way—even your Grandmothers.
    I love what Congressman Amey says. My husband would tell you the same thing–if he was alive after the first shot.

  27. 1. Knowing that my husband loves me and our family, wouldn’t place us in such a situation, my answer would be Yes, I would stand by him as he has stayed by my side for 47 years.
    2.I’d say that 3 out of the 4 loved their husbands, # 4 is a BIG question mark! Those three appeared to suffer both heartache and major humiliation!! #4 probably suffered as much from humiliation as the others, but she of the four already knew about his extramarital activities. Don’t these people know that “you can run, but you can’t hide!”
    3. My interpretation of the MOC comes from all
    the books I read back in the day! No marital
    relationships in a MOC! At least, not until they
    fell in love!
    4. I do not know anyone with a marriage of this
    kind. Does anyone??

    Pat Cochran

  28. Mary, I loved the story of your grandparents–that’s awesome. I do think that if you don’t have an out, you’ve more of an incentive to figure out how to make it work. In the case of these very public marriages with infidelity, I’m not sure what the motivation is. Lying to one’s spouse in such a way seems to be such a horrible betrayal on many levels, and though I don’t generally advocate divorce, I’m not sure I could stomach standing by such a despicable person.

  29. It is a great story, isn’t it, Kathleen. We’re all fond of this family ‘lore’ my grandma and grandpa are gone but there are about… estimating here … one zillion grand/great grand/ great, great grand children from that marriage.

  30. And Fedora, maybe these political couples don’t see themselves as having an out. Maybe they think … if they’re really ambitious, like White House ambitious, that they can’t have a divorce on their record. And if both partners want that bad enough, I suppose they might stick even when it’s icky.
    But if they can’t have a divorce on their record then for HEAVEN’S SAKE they can’t have Call Girls on their record!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Or an arrest in a public restroom!!!!!!!!!

    Good-bye Oval Office. Except Clinton got there didn’t he?

  31. Pat what you said is huge. If you knew your husband loved you. IF you’d had a good honorable relationship for a long time. Yes, you might be able to get through some infidelity. It would be tough but maybe. But all of this disrespect for their marriage vows, this isn’t a ‘affair’ this is a lifestyle.
    Not the same thing at all.

  32. And Estella, you’re right about it being a real marriage. No matter how it started, in the end my grandparents marriage was as real as any.

    But I still wish my mom got to hold a PUPPY in that picture. 🙁

  33. Mary, I guess I wasn’t clear enough in my statement.
    I wasn’t responding to the question in regards to
    infidelity. I was trying to say that there wouldn’t
    be any question of infidelity with us. He never
    has and never would be unfaithful to us. In that
    regards, I would always be at his side.

    Pat Cochran

  34. i dont know of any marrages of convience in my family but i do know of a friend of mums
    she fell for an american soldier in WW2 but he left her. she ended in a rebound relationship which for both ended as marrage but but it was more a marrage of convience. they did care for each other but never really have that deep love.

  35. Mary, I’m a few days late, but had to stop and read your post. Enjoyed it and loved hearing your grandparents’ story and seeing your mother and siblings’ picture.

    And yes, I did know what you meant in Petticoat Ranch by “She didn’t have long to wonder.” Ruthy and I make two. LOL.

    I love the premise of Calico Canyon! Can’t wait to read it!


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