Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Question of the Week

Araminta Copes with Her Loveless Marriage: I've only had three fingers of Jack, a jigger of vodka, a rum and coke and a dry  martini...How was your day?
We've encountered this problem before.  A hero, seemingly willing to contract a marriage of convenience, proposes to a bewildered heroine.  From here, The Great Betty is anything but philosophically consistent.  In A Matter of Chance, Cressida 'supposed that if she hadn't loved Giles so very much, she might have accepted him; but to marry him now, feeling as she did about him, would spell disaster...It wouldn't work out, she told herself soberly.'  But then, we've got plenty of heroines who put themselves firmly in the 'Heck no, we won't go' category until they have a dawning realization and then it's all this talk of half-loaves being better than none.
So here's the scenario, you're in love with a wealthy and handsome bachelor who would give you a home and children (but only if and when that was cool with you) and all the fabulous clothing you want.  But he says he doesn't love you (in that cold and hateful way) and you don't really see each other often enough to ensure that you could make that love grow if given enough time and enough trips to the Ritz tea room.  So, which camp are you in:
  • Say no and you lose any chance of marriage and family (He's your soul-mate, right?  There's no marrying anyone else after this.) and you also lose any contact with the only man you'll ever love and you'll probably die in a cave-in in a Chilean mine as well.
  • Say yes and you'll lead a double life (possibly forever).  Seething passions will be bridled and a thick veneer (think Joan Rivers on botox) of affability and pleasantness will have to mask a lifetime of slights and hurts.
So, what do you do?

(Disclosure)  I'm with Cressy on this.  I'm a door-slammer not a passion bridler and we'd probably make it a week before I was calling him a git and packing my bags for that Chilean mine.


  1. Okay, the question I'd ask myself is why does a rich & eligible bachelor (or widower, or divorcé whose wife then died in the USA) say he doesn't love me but propose anyway?

    Possible answers:
    1) He's secretly in love with me but thinks I need time to learn to love him.
    2) He's lining up some plot for revenge against me for some reason I may never understand.
    3) He needs a beard because he's secretly in love with Veroni-Monique.
    4) Hey, it's called convenience for a reason. He needs a built in nanny, someone to ignore at the breakfast table, and an in-house florist. I'd take those jobs.

    I would marry him in scenarios #1 & 4, not marry him in #3 (low probability of success, even if I thought he was deluded in his affections for V-M). That just leaves #2 -- could be disastrous, but it could be a confusion that we clear up (like: that-wasn't-me-that-was-my-cousin-who-looks-exactly-like-me -- that kinda thing). But I'm not sure I want to marry anyone who can hatch a revenge plot.

    So my answer is: I ask him a lot of coded questions to see if I can figure out which of the four scenarios it is. If I can't be sure, no marriage.

  2. Betty Barbara here--
    Well, I think that Betty Magdalen said it all! Her reason #2 shows that she has read widely in the non-Neels sections of Romancelandia. Yes, for you fellow Bettys who have never ventured into Old Skool Harlequin Presents, revenge as a motive for marriage is a common trope.

  3. Alright, then, let me be even more specific: His reasons are entirely the ones he states..."convenience" and he's dropped zero hints about his feelings beyond that. (He's given no reason for hope.)

    I'm not interested in what he thinks or his motivations or if he'll change. I want to know what we would all do if posed with the situation: Yes or no?

  4. My younger self would have totally said yes, and then planned a campaign to storm the citadel.

  5. Go Betty Debbie! That's the spirit! I'd marry him and go all out to win him. No hanging about looking pathetic and waiting for him to notice me.

  6. Betty Barbara here--
    Okay, Betty Keira, given those stipulations, my answer would be have been "No. But thank you for thinking of me." I would have then engineered a job transfer to the far side of the moon, pulled myself together and gotten on with my life.
    Betty Debbie--you are a true Betty heroine! That was the plan of a number of them, and wouldn't you know? It worked! (But that's in Neelsland.)

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  8. Let's try this again...

    Convenience is Option #4 -- So sure, I'd do it.

    Either he falls in love with me (yay!) or I fall out of love with him (could be okay) or it remains the status quo (which I must have figured would be okay when I said yes) or one of us falls in love with someone else, which is what the divorce statutes are for.

    The key element isn't passionate love but respectful love. Being treated with honor and decency counts for a LOT with me.

  9. Yes. Love grows (uncanny success of arranged marriages anyone?)and I would be a fool to turn down such security.

  10. True, Betty Kylene. Several Indian families on my street had such starts...

  11. I'd say yes.

    It's my firm belief that any two people who are both committed to their marriage can make it work. I always cite my beloved and me as prime examples. We married before my 16th birthday under "shotgun" circumstances. Both of us, young as we were, though, believed strongly from the start that we'd made this bed and we'd make it work.

    35.5 years later, here we are. No one would question our commitment to one another.

    So given the pledge of honor, respect, endless clothing allowance and "when you're ready..." I'd go for it. Especially if he's a gorgeous RDD. What's to consider? :-)


  12. Betty van den BetsyAugust 9, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    I suspect part of the success of arranged marriages reflects the participants being reared in a culture that trains its children to behave well in those marriages, extending best efforts. But there are plenty of women in arranged marriages who put up with behaviour you and I would most likely not accept.

    That said, I would happily marry a smart, well-groomed, well-mannered man for the money, but would ask that he agree to certain ground rules: 1) treat me with the respect due a spouse, viz. tell me what's going on in his life, and fill me in on any backstory all his friends and relatives know; 2) don't go out to dinner with anorexic Swedes/towheaded beanpoles/gorgeous blondes within 250 miles of anyone who knows us; 3) absolutely not bringing children into this emotionally-charged relationship.

    Big ol' pre-nup! because he does not get to treat me disrespectfully for free, and the third time a mean-spirited great aunt makes poisonous hints and hubby refuses to explain, I'm out, with enough cash in hand to re-establish myself, and not in a dodgy bedsit.

    Of course, I'd probably take a chunk of my quarterly dress allowance and use it for a long weekend at the spa once a month or so... the spa in Brighton... (and expect something similar of him -- who are these people who agree to maybe decades without physical intimacy beyond hugging the cat?).