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Men running away from arranged marriages

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Jabrosky, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    We've all heard of the cliche about feisty heroines running away from arranged marriages, but what if it was the man who ran away from the arranged marriage instead? How come that apparently isn't as common in fiction as women running away?
     
  2. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

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    I think that in fiction, women always want to get married, so the part where they all of a sudden change their minds is what makes the story interesting. As I understand it, the guy never really wants to get married, so the challenge is to get him to go to the alter. She wants to get married, then turns around and runs away (unless it's an arranged marriage in which case she'll run away to escape). But he doesn't want to get married in the first place, then finally submits. I don't know why these two scenarios are more popular, but it would be nice to see them reversed.
     
  3. Will

    Will Scribe

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    So, we picturing Tyrion Lannister running away from an arranged marriage with Brienne of Tarth? Something like that? Depends on the circumstances I suppose, could work. I always felt that arranged marriage's are quite sexist, in the times/places of female oppression, you're more likely to have a woman forced into it unwillingly than a man. Think you could often get the male family shopping round for the best bet, whereas the female never gets that privelage.
     
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I have a male character in an arranged political marriage who takes a very long trip in large part to get away from his wife. In the initial draft, he wasn't shy about the odd fling or two while away from home. (In the ongoing rewrite, at tales end, he finds out his wife had him declared legally dead so she could claim his titles and marry her true love interest).
     
  5. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    This has a few similarities to the idea bubbling in my own head right now. My male MC is forced to marry an overbearing, spoiled brat of a woman, but when she proves too much he runs away to another country where he finds his true love. This doesn't go over well with the MC's wife, who starts a war between the two countries.
     
  6. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I think this has a lot to do with how our culture views marriage in relation to gender. A woman running away from (or cheating in) an undesirable or unhappy marriage is likely to be seen as brave and adventurous, while a man doing exactly the same thing is considered to be a selfish coward. Go figure.

    I'm not condoning this of course, I think it's a horrendous double standard. But for whatever reason, it exists.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It's because the men are usually assumed to have a lot more say in arranging the marriage. Men are more aggressive, so they'd be prone to confront the arrangement in other ways than by running off. They're more likely to bully their way out of it.
     
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    This may be true as a general rule, but what if the woman's family had more power (in whatever sense of the word) than the man's? I would think that could complicate any effort on the man's part to bully his way out of relationship (and my male MC isn't the bullying kind anyway).

    I've started an outline for a story based on the OP question. The hero is a prince from Kingdom A who has to marry the princess of Empire B to prevent Empire B from blowing up Kingdom A (Empire B is the only civilization in the story's world with gunpowder technology). When the princess proves to be an overbearing and spoiled brat, the hero runs away to Kingdom C, where he falls in love with their queen. When the hero's wife finds out about her husband running away and having an affair, she has Empire B invade Kingdom C.
     
  9. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Historically, all people expected to marry. Also, men and women of middle class or lower class had quite a lot of say in the matter, often being wed by their parents to a neighbor or child of a friend. It was only the upper classes which had what we think about as an arranged marriage (for political reasons), and in those arrangements, more than one son was disappointed. True enough once the deal was signed, the woman might be locked away while the man cavorted with other women, but there were many wives in the renaissance who found their own happiness in life even when they hated their husbands. But for the vast majority of people, happiness and love were secondary to duty and respect, and often love grew between strangers who mutually respected each other and did their duties as partners. Many men even spoke out about laws which allowed a man to beat his wife (of course women were still technically the property of their husbands even if they had careers or owned property in their own right).

    In fantasy, of course we can write whatever we want, and I have included unhappy arranged marriages where people show up at the altar begrudgingly. But I also have written some sort of hand-fasting weddings, where people basically turn up, make a gesture, and are married. In the feudal system, if you wanted to marry, you had to ask permission from your lord. But I swear I've read of instances where country weddings happened without church sanctions and such. So I don't know whether that gives you any inspiration or whatever. I love the idea of adventuring to get away from a spouse you don't like.
     
  10. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    You know what else isn't seen often as far as arranged marriages are concerned: both parties being perfectly happy with the situation. Of if this is ever the case, it's the parents of the bride as they try to tell her that arranged marriages aren't so bad. In my WIP, my protagonist and her co-leader and best friend negotiate an alliance which includes arranged marriages for themselves and some other elite women, and marriages where the courtship is of very short duration for the common folk, because all the marriage ceremonies of the common folk are to happen on a set day, a few days after the arranged marriages.

    I'm treating all the elite-class marriages in my WIP as political in their inception.
     
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Actually I think it has more to do with the stereotypes our society has for men and women with regards to marriage. For example, a man fleeing an unhappy marriage will be seen as "want to stay wild and free", where free here would be used in a negative sense. Whereas a woman would be seen as "looking for true love and freedom" where the freedom here is used in a positive sense. This double standard always seems to come in to play, even when the person in question does something that is unequivocally wrong: cheating.

    WHY this double standard exists is anybody's guess and a rabbit hole I'm not about to go down just now. The real relevance in regard to your story is that right off the bat your male MC is going to come off as less sympathetic (moreso I think to female readers than male readers I suspect, make of that what you will) for escaping his marriage than a female protagonist would be for taking the same action. In order to be sure that the audience will accept the MC's actions as reasonable, I suggest that you play up the brattiness of the soon-to-be-wife. Make her not just annoying or childish but unendurable and irritating bordering on evil. Doing that will make sure your MC looks very reasonable in his actions, even to female readers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I love Mindfire's suggestion to make the wife awful. Also, you could consider (if you haven't) making the run-away husband of some fine moral fiber himself. Rather than showing him womanizing and drunk, for example, enter a short scene with a friend who asks him why he ran away and play up the, "have you met my wife?" aspect. It could lend a lot of humor to the tale and also give a lighter tone. We all know someone saddled up to an awful woman, and you could draw sympathy from the reader.
     
  13. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    That was actually my plan from the get-go. If anything, my worry is that my hero's wife will turn out too evil. Not only is she a controlling and spoiled woman as previously described, she's also racist against the people whose queen the hero ultimately falls in love with. That said, she might be a fun villain to write!
     
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I've actually seen a movie with a man running away from an arranged marriage: Corpse Bride, by Tim Burton. The male lead, Victor, is from a newly-wealthy family and about to be married to Victoria, the daughter of some bankrupt aristocrats, purely for the sake of money. Victor gets nervous during the rehearsal, flees and tries to practice in the privacy of the woods. He gets his vows right that time, but winds up putting the ring on the finger of a corpse whose hand was sticking out of the ground, and she reanimates and proclaims that she is his wife. Hilarity ensues. It's a really cute movie, go watch it if you haven't. XD
     
  15. Robert Donnell

    Robert Donnell Minstrel

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    To be frank I don't believe that any man would run away from an arranged marriage, it usually would be in his best interest.

    The writer would have to go to great lengths to create a situation where he would want to run away, and at a certain point of extremity the families involved would balk before the marriage happened in the first place. In India where arranged marriages still happen, they tend to work out pretty well.
     
  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I have another story where that sort of happens.

    In my story, the guy never actually saw himself as leaving the marriage, merely getting away from his wife for a long while (over a year). As far as the family bit, they did have a kid or two which satisfied that end of the deal, but they do not really enter into the story.
     
  17. Robert Donnell

    Robert Donnell Minstrel

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    I'm not complaining that your idea is a bad one but what I do is have one thing happen, War, asteroid strike, etc... then I put fairly normal people in a position of having to do something extra ordinary. My point is that if you have several hard to believe things to get past then it is harder for your readers to suspend their disbelief, which is a prerequisite to "get into" a book or movie. So what I suggest is that you have a runaway Groom/Husband want to leave for a simple plausible reason, rather than several less plausible reasons. For example the young couple is Irish and there isn't divorce in that country, rather than have two two totally incompatible people who would never would have married in the first place.

    Does this make any sense?
     
  18. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    Interesting question. I suppose if a good deal of fantasy is based roughly around medieval style times then often women were seen as the property of the male, or at least she had far fewer rights. However I am sure there were men who werent happy about marrying- Edward 2nd for a start who was happily cavorting with his male lover and forced to marry Isabella. I think that one cut both ways as she wasn't that keen on him either. Overall she had his son, so did her duty, and found herself a lover. He ended up getting deposed and murdered.

    Henry 8th married Anne of Cleves on the basis of a portrait. When she arrived he was disappointed by her looks and manners but had to marry her to save face and not upset her country. So they married and then he divorced her. (Ok so man still has the upper hand here but had he just been able to walk away both would have been a lot better off.)

    I guess to an extent it depends on the reason for the marriage and the situation- is it political in which case I suspect neither are particularly impressed. If one partner is from a higher class or far more wealthy it could cause problems. I think, historically, it was often the female partner who was hard done by but not always. Arranged marriages could be loving, or at least not unhappy.

    I was considering a plot later on with a scheming young man marrying to get lands and power, now I am wondering whether to make it a scheming woman. What better way, marry the young son, have his son and then remove him. You get the lands, the line is continued etc and now you area wealthy young widow.

    I think it depends on the story. If your male character isnt happy marrying then have him say so. If it flouts the norm so be it.
     
  19. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    History is littered with totally incompatible people marrying, for better or worse.
    -George the prince Regent was married to Caroline of Brunswick, they hated each other and when he became king he banned her from the ceremony.

    Tiberius marrying his scheming niece (Agrippina?) who then (possibly) murdered him.
     
  20. Robert Donnell

    Robert Donnell Minstrel

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    Well the big difference between real life and a book is that you don't have to believe real life. Books have to be believable.

    Real life for example alternates between Rated G and X, movies are usually R, and TV is PG. But writing has to interest the reader without turning them off.
     
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