Writing marriage of convenience

How to Write the Marriage of Convenience Trope

The marriage of convenience also called the fake marriage trope is one that has been loved throughout the years. But how do you write a compelling marriage of convenience novel?

What Is the Marriage of Convenience Trope?

The marriage of convenience trope is one where the couple is compelled to marry for various reasons. This may be due to external forces, however, unlike the shotgun or forced marriage, the couple chooses marriage rather than face whatever consequences would otherwise result.

Why Would People Want a Marriage of  Convenience?

As the name suggests, the couple finds security or safety in a marriage that they could not find on their own.

What Are Some Common Reasons for a Fake Marriage?

This trope is often used in historical romance. Usually, the reason is linked to an inheritance or independence.

Some examples include:

  • A man or woman may marry so they can gain access to their inheritance.
  • A woman may choose to marry a suitor of her choosing rather than being forced to marry an unsuitable one.
  • Men may choose to marry to have a caretaker for their wards/children.
  • Women choose to marry for respectability or to escape a fate worse than death (the poor house or abject poverty).
  • The person may marry to escape an abusive parent.

Some of these may apply to a contemporary romance, but some won’t.

In contemporary settings, a couple may marry so that the other has access to insurance benefits.

  • They may marry to provide a stable environment for a child/ward.
  • There may be a lumpsum payout that would benefit one or both parties.
  • One person may need money to achieve a goal that the other person can provide in exchange for marriage.

An important thing to note about marriages of convenience is that they are not always permanent. Sometimes, the couple agrees to be married for a limited amount of time like a year or five years.

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How to Write a Marriage of Convenience?

So how do you go about writing a fake marriage?

The first thing you should know about this trope is that it is both a repelling and a compelling one.

A fake marriage repels because each person has a very good reason to agree to a temporary marriage or marriage in name only. They are determined not to fall in love with the other person and often have very good reasons not to.

It’s a compelling trope because as a married couple, there are always expectations–things that will draw the couple closer, sometimes against their wishes.

For example, they have to share a house and maybe a room. The constant contact with this person you’re determined not to fall in love with means that over time you begin to lose sight of your reasons.

As they learn more about the other person their reasons for resisting them become harder to remember and to keep.

But then, there’s more resistance. As each person begins to feel drawn toward the next they worry that the feelings may be one-sided and so begin to work double time to rebuild the barriers between them.

Three Tips for A Delicious Fake Marriage

In order to write a fake marriage well, you need: character

  1. Give them a reason: Give your couple a compelling reason for them to enter into a marriage of convenience. What’s in it for them? Each person must have a reason, though one may have a stronger reason than the other.
  2. Throw them together: Your couple needs sufficient contact in order to override their initial resistance to falling in love.
  3. Make the other person lovable: There must be evidence, at least to the character, that their love interest has admirable qualities. Qualities that make them want to consider changing the stakes of their relationship. Qualities that make them want to be married, for real.

Come up with a list of things that can push your character together and things that can pull them apart. Now see how many of these situations you can organically work into your plot.

Add in some swoony moments, some fun banter, a few kisses and that’s how you write a fake marriage romance.

What do you love about marriages of convenience? Let me know in the comments.

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