I'm probably going to shock you all with my suggestion that we should give the marriage of convenience a chance. Marriage of convenience has acquired an extremely bad reputation throughout the ages, especially with the Romantic movement rising into prominence. Women marrying out of convenience have been universally stigmatised as gold-diggers and worse. The only true marriage we are told, is one based on romantic love, pure and undefiled. Is it really so?
What is the greatest problem with marriage in our modern society? I believe it's the high divorce rate. Yet even in the 19th century divorce was still considered outrageous by the society and in many cases prohibited, or at least, severely restricted, yet nowadays we have no-fault divorce and most people find it perfectly normal. How did we come to this?
Well, it all started with changing the meaning of marriage. Since people in the West came to believe that the only true and sacred marriage bond was the one based on the feeling of romantic love, the next logical step was to conclude that if one of the partners stopped experiencing this feeling, it would be immoral to force him or her to stay with some they didn't love any more.
Marriage used to be viewed as a contract, or a covenant, if you prefer this word. It was like joining the army. You exchanged solemn vows in the presence of witnesses, to stay together for better for worse, till Death do us part. It was considered despicable to break one's vow, in the same way it was considered despicable to be a deserter.
If you exchanged the vows in a proper way (which was somewhat different in different countries), you were considered married before God. Once you consummated your marriage, you were married before men. Whether you felt properly in love during these ceremonies or afterwards, didn't legally matter at all. Once you gave your word, you were in for it.
Since feelings weren't considered the centre point of marriage, something else was, and more often than not, I'm afraid, it was very unromantic pecuniary considerations, especially among society's better circles. You married someone who belonged to a good family and well established in the world. For a woman, it meant a man capable of providing a decent living, on the level she had been accustomed to, or better if possible. Most women didn't marry the Prince Charming of their dreams and didn't expect to, and because they had no unrealistic expectations, they were seldom disappointed.
Nowadays women are taught to "follow their heart" (which, I'm afraid is a polite euphemism for following one's lust) and then once married, to expect their whole life one exciting adventure. What is worse, they are taught that it all depends on the man, not the woman, and their overworked husbands who come from work and are more often than not met with honey-to-do lists, should treat them as the princesses they are. It's not the wife's job any more to keep her husband, it's the husband's job to keep his wife.Yet those modern sophisticated egalitarian marriages fall apart with the rate of about 40% (in my country).
In the marriage of convenience, on the other hand, both parties discuss beforehand what they expect of each other. A woman knows very well she got herself a good provider and that there are other women who'd like to have him,too, so she'll do her best to keep him. I personally know several such marriages which are quite successful, while all those love matches are falling apart left and right. Because "I love you, you pay my rent'' goes a longer way than "I'm a strong independent womyn with my own paycheck, hear me roar" and the disinclination to divide and thus diminish common property is often a darn good reason to overlook those small faults in your significant other.
And before you all start attacking me for promoting gold-digging, well, it was written tongue-in-cheek, but only partly:)