Romance is a big part of the draw for many MUSHers and this is in itself not a problem. However, when you are playing a character in a medieval-inspired fantasy world, there are many complications to consider, both ICly and OOCly.
In the contemporary world, we take for granted that love comes before marriage and only archaic societies still arrange matches between sons and daughters. In Westeros and Dorne, however, this is not the way it is. All marriages are a negotiation between families, with each seeking to wring the most advantage possible from each match.
It is very rare for a pair of young people to meet, fall in love, and convince their families to allow them to marry. They might meet and fall in love, but it is for the girl’s father to determine whether she should marry him or not - love has nothing at all to do with it. It can damage a girl’s reputation if she were to become too closely attached to a young man without her father’s blessing and a betrothal, and lower her chances for making an advantageous match. The mere suspicion that an unmarried woman is not a virgin is enough to tarnish her reputation and if it is actually true that she is no longer a maiden, she could find herself sent to a motherhouse if this is found out.
When a father looks at making a match for his son or daughter, many factors come into play. Let’s say, for instance, that Lord Florent is looking for a wife for his son. He would look at his own political situation and then what his political ambitions are. Remember, sons and daughters are little more than tools for their parents’ ambitions, so this will drive Lord Florent’s decision. Likewise, he will wish to marry his son to a girl whose family can pay a high dowry, and whose own political situation is equal to or better than his own.
Lord Florent finds a suitable possibility in Bessie Connington. The Conningtons are of similar rank in the Stormlands, with connections to Highgarden and Storm’s End as well as King’s Landing. Lord Florent sends along an inquiry. Now Lord Connington must consider his own situation and ambition, the benefits he might find in connecting himself to House Florent, and what his daughter’s rank would be when she marries Jonny Florent. Is Jonny the heir? Bessie would be Lady Florent one day. If he is a second or third or even, Gods forbid, a fourth son, his future is less assured and will be taken into consideration.
Let’s say Jonny is the heir. This pleases Lord Connington, so the two are betrothed. Once they are betrothed, they WILL be married. Betrothals are almost impossible to break, and if they are broken, can result in ill will and even feuding between the Florents and Conningtons and their allies. Should either Jonny or Bessie be so foolish as to run away and marry someone else, the marriage could be ruled invalid by the High Septon on grounds of former agreement, and annulled so that Bessie and Jonny can marry anyway. A betrothal is an ironclad contract, and the bride and groom rarely have any say over this at all. They are lucky if their fathers arrange for them to meet before the wedding.
Marriage is even more ironclad. There is no divorce in Westeros. If Jonny proves unable to consummate the marriage, the High Septon MIGHT be convinced to annul the marriage, but such things are exceedingly rare and nigh impossible to prove. A husband who fathers bastards is only doing what all men do, and this is not grounds for an annulment. A wife may be sent into a motherhouse for being unfaithful, but the marriage is not dissolved. Only death can do that.
In the game, once you enter into a betrothal with another PC, it will go forward according to theme, even if the other PC disappears or is not as active as you would like. In this case, theme overrides personal desires, and if the Admins—who must act in place of NPC parents—deem a betrothal a good one and allow it to be made ICly, you’re stuck with it. Make very sure you are prepared to accept the consequences if you enter into any IC partnership of this nature.