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Marriages don't always start great, and sometimes they're motivated by other motives than love: family/clan orders, the married one's needs, one spouse's need to be married to stay in the country, etc. The basics are these: two people marry, they don't love one another, and see this arrangement as a bother or as something that will be just a solution to whatever led them to marry in the first place.
... Does this mean that the bride and groom (or two grooms, or two brides) will be super unhappy? Nope, not necessarily! It's also likely that these two will become more fond of one another, interact better than at the beginning, and in the end they'll be as happy as if they had married for love like in the novels. Well, maybe not automatically, but the plot will take care of that.
This is how Arranged Marriages tend to be justified by those who want to uphold them -- you don't have to be in love from the start, but you can learn to love the person you're with when you know them better. Studies tend to be more mixed (though leaning a bit more to Truth in Television) and human history has this as the expected norm.
Anime and Manga
- In Ranma 1/2, Akane and Ranma are engaged due to their fathers' deals AND do like one another. Except that he has an Unwanted Harem (made of very beautiful girls who have VERY good reasons to chase after him AND, save for one, would be HORRIBLY dishonored if he chose a gal), she also has some very persistent suitors, she is extremely Tsundere to him and he's not afraid to fire back, he has his Gender Bender curse to deal with, etc. According to Word of God, however, the two will eventually swear by this trope.
- My Bride Is a Mermaid begins with San and Nagasumi getting married solely to save his life since, according to Merperson laws, any humans who see mermaids must either die or marry the mermaid / merman. As their lives become entangled and many wacky situations happen, they do come to grow fond of one another for real.
- Ah! My Goddess is about the Unlucky Everydude Keiichi somehow managing to make a deal with the goddess Belldandy about her staying with him forever, which in practice equals to marriage. And they fall in love with one another as time passes. . .
- Stepping on Roses is about the poor girl Sumi and the rich guy Soichirou agreeing to marry solely for convenience: she needs money to save her family from destitution, he needs to marry so he can inherit his fortune properly. They both agree that there's NO love involved, and in fact Soichirou tends to treat Sumi REAL bad plus she cannot get used to her newfound society status, but the plot hangs on whether they will change their minds enough to play the trope straight. They do, yes.
- Played with in a story in Pet Shop of Horrors. The ghost of a queen tells Count D about how she and her husband were betrothed as children, hated each other for much of their marriage, and cheated on each other constantly. She then fell deathly ill for a period of time and, when she recovered, found her husband at her side. That incident made them realize how much they cared for each other and they were faithful and loving to each other from that day onward.
- In the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Loving Leah, Jake Lever (Adam Kaufman) seems to be trying less and less hard to get out of his levirate marriage to his late brother and local rabbi Benjamin's wife Leah as the film progresses. The fact that she's played by Lauren Ambrose might have something to with it...
- It turns out that Princess Merida's parents in Brave were a case of this, as their marriage was arranged and Fergus quite loved Elinor from the start, but she says only fell for him later. (Hilariously, he didn't know about that.)
- Fate Zero has Irisviel and Kiritsugu more or less playing this straight. He rejected Iri at first, then was angry when her creator/father cruelly discarded her due to that, THEN he rescued and nursed her back to health, and in the process they fell hard for one another.
- Downton Abbey has Robert and Cora; he married her mostly due to her money, and fell in love with her within a year. Robert himself is embarrassed to admit it when he confesses it to Cora.
- Persona 3: Mitsuru tells the protagonist that her parents were a case of this. She herself is engaged to someone else, but is aware that the trope will not come true for them - and breaks it off if her Social Link is completed.
- Pompey the Great of Ancient Rome had a habit of marrying for purely political reasons and then falling head-over-heels in love with his wife. Some guys are just romantics. He and his fourth wife, Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar) were especially devoted to each other, though he was over twenty years older than her; his and Caesar's rivalry wasn't 100% unleashed until Julia, the one who "bound" them, died.
- Llewelyn ap Gruffyd, the last native Prince of Wales before it was conquered by the English, arranged a marriage for himself with Eleanor de Montfort, daughter of Simon de Montfort, because the latter was helping him to defend his crown and position. It turned out to be a genuine love match, despite an age difference of more than 20 years; Llewelyn is almost singularly unique among the Welsh princes for never having been known to take a mistress, and when Eleanor went the Death by Childbirth route bringing Princess Gwenllian into the world, Llewlyn pretty much lost it. He was persuaded by his greedy younger brother Dafydd to enter a dangerous campaign against the English, something he had been steadily resisting in Eleanor's lifetime, and died in the fight.
- The marriage between William III and Mary II didn't start out very well; Mary cried through their wedding, William was cold and neglectful towards her, and had an affair with one of her ladies-in-waiting. However, the relations between them improved very much, and when Mary died young of smallpox, William was devastated, saying that "from being the happiest" he was "now going to be the miserablest creature on Earth".
- Gilbert de Lafayette and Adrienne de Noailles. When the marriage was arranged, she was 15, he - 17. Just for money, of course (from her side - or the side of her parents, that is). You can guess how it went from there on, so just pointing out the more prominent parts. When Lafayette was imprisoned and she was about to be executed (revolution will not be civilised, after all) she was writing to the revolutionary tribune to save her husband, after the death penalty was substituted for imprisonment, she was released from custody and her only request was to be imprisoned in the same castle, as the Lafayette, and when she died, he wrote, that gone is the bigger and better part of him. If you wrote a book with such events now, one would undoubtedly be accused of sentimentalism in the terminal stage. Reality ensues, indeed...
- Maria Kutschera, despite what The Sound of Music may say, was not desperately in love with Captain Georg von Trapp when they married. He was in love with her, she cared for him but wasn't in love, and they married for the sake of the children. Obviously, it all worked out, as by the time they left Austria, she clearly loved him very deeply.