Marriage of Convenience

marriage of convenience
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What is a marriage of convenience and why would anyone marry for some reason other than love?

A marriage of convenience is a marriage between two people for practical or financial reasons and not for family, love or intimacy. It is often for personal gain or another strategic purpose. Common reasons are immigration status, political gain or reputation. Essentially it's a union or cooperation formed solely for pragmatic reasons.

Legal loopholes are exploited by those who contract marriages of convenience. It is illegal in many countries, including the United States, to have a marriage of convenience such as for immigration purposes. People committing this fraud are subject to legal prosecution. It is often referred to as a "green-card marriage." In the cases when such a marriage represents a fraud, it can also be referred to as a sham marriage. A couple may wed as a means of seeking citizenship and/or the "right of abode."  

A different, yet common, reason for a marriage of convenience is to hide one or both of the partners' homosexuality. This may happen in cases where being openly gay is detrimental or even punishable. This type of a sham marriage is sometimes referred to as a "lavender marriage." One of the goals is to create the appearance of heterosexuality. Marriages such as these may have one heterosexual and one homosexual partner, or both may be homosexual. For example, a lesbian and gay man marry each other. In such instances, the woman is referred to as the man's "beard."  

Sometimes a marriage of conveniences evolves from a true marriage. For instance, a couple is no longer in love or having sexual relations, but they can not afford to divorce or want to keep the family together. The couple figures out a way to co-exist and co-parent but they are no longer interacting as a typical married couple. 


Jeanne d'Albret, the queen regnant of Navarre, Francis I was forced to marry William, Duke of Julich-Cleves-Berg in 1541 at the age of 12 for political reasons. 

Widowed women of the old west in the U.S. often agreed to marriages of convenience in order to survive the hardships of homesteading during the 1800s.

In Australia, there have been marriages of convenience to bring attention to the government's Youth Allowance laws. 

*Article updated by Marni Feuerman