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If a couple get married shortly after they met each other and get divorced not long after their marriage. What do you call their marriage? Or how do you describe this situation?

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    In addition to divorce (or annulment),there are different terms for a brief marriage in some cultures. For example, Islam has the concept mutʿah, britannica.com/topic/mutah, a temporary marriage. In that case, the word would be borrowed into English from Arabic (or sigheh, from Farsi, for the same concept). Oct 2, 2022 at 3:29
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    A "quick" marriage would be one that took place fairly soon after the two people met, and/or one where the ceremony itself didn't take long. For your context I'd refer to their short-lived marriage (the same as countless writers over the centuries). Oct 2, 2022 at 13:27
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    The simple answer is there is no term or slang in English for this.
    – Fattie
    Oct 2, 2022 at 17:25
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    Related, but not synonymous, in American English is the term "Shotgun Wedding", which refers to a marriage that is hastily arranged and performed after the bride becomes pregnant (and, often, not long after the bride and groom have met). Oct 2, 2022 at 19:38
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    marriage was short lived takes off pretty good after 1960 according to ngram. @FumbleFingers - answers belong down there ;)
    – Mazura
    Oct 2, 2022 at 23:09

8 Answers 8

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Both "short marriage" and "quick marriage" work, but "quick marriage" is more often used to mean a short wedding ceremony, or getting married with a very short engagement period, so a sentence like, "Marsha and John had a quick marriage" could mean three different things, depending on the context.

A "short marriage", however, only has one meaning, which is that the time between the wedding and the divorce was short.

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I would call it brief marriage or trial marriage.

Brief (Merriam Webster Dictionary) short in duration, extent, or length.

Trial marriage (Merriam Webster Dictionary) a proposed form of marriage in which a man and woman are married but for only a stated period.

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    trial marriage seems to imply a fixed period known beforehand, the case here doesn't sound like that
    – ilkkachu
    Oct 2, 2022 at 15:43
  • I agree. However trial period cannot be long, otherwise it won't be a trial.
    – banuyayi
    Oct 4, 2022 at 7:57
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It can be ambiguous to talk about the length of the marriage, because that can be interpreted as the length of the marriage ceremony.

However, you could say that the couple were married for a short time. That's clear that you're talking about the period from marriage to divorce (as that's when they are no longer married).

Alternatively, using an adverb - they married briefly (but not "quickly", as that could mean soon after meeting). Or not mention the marriage, but imply it, by saying they were soon divorced.

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    To me marriage meaning wedding ceremony is old fashioned and stilted, so I would not find the phrase ambiguous in that way unless there was some reason to think the word was not being used normally.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 2, 2022 at 13:22
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    @Colin, that's reasonable, as I'm becoming more old-fashioned as I age. That said, there are plenty of English-language users older than me, so it's wise to take a sample of views into account! Oct 2, 2022 at 15:21
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A US-specific term may be Hollywood marriage or celebrity marriage.

Per Wikipedia:

The term has grown to also have strong negative connotations of a marriage that is of short duration and quickly ends in separation or divorce. The term developed the negative connotations fairly early; by the 1930s, a "Hollywood marriage" was a marriage both glamorous and short-lived.

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    short-lived +1
    – Mazura
    Oct 2, 2022 at 23:08
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I would call that a whirlwind marriage.

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    I've heard it said as a "whirlwind courtship" to imply it was brief, but not so much applied to the marriage afterward.
    – Criggie
    Oct 4, 2022 at 0:06
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I'd just say the marriage was "short". A "quick" marriage is one with a short betrothal or a short ceremony. "John met Sarah and two days later they went to Vegas for a quick marriage".

Of course there could be some specific context to this, depending on the reason for getting divorced soon after marriage.

Alternatively you could use the actual length of the marriage. "John's short, five-day marriage ended in annulment..."

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They married quickly and divorced just as quickly.

They married shortly after meeting and divorced shortly after marrying.

Or, be specific:

They knew each other two months before marrying. They were married three months before divorcing.

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I'd call it a loose knot. Quickly tied together without caution, easily unwound. Inspired by the idiom, "Tying the knot" (as in getting married)

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    Is this something you made up yourself, or have you seen it used by other people? If possible, provide references.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 4, 2022 at 12:45
  • I made it up myself. I haven't seen it be used.
    – Lazarus
    Oct 5, 2022 at 10:36

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