A 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 device. 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.
Here’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 these qualify? Bill and Hillary Clinton in their now famous, “Stand By Your Man” 60 Minutes interview that saved Clinton’s candidacy in 1992.
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?