You’ll Do: Marriage in Skyrim
One of the new and interesting features about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is that the character you create to prance around this magical land can now get married to the man, woman, elf, cat or lizard of their choice. There are a few small perks to this feature such as having a spouse to cook you things and give you money. Then there is the “lovers comfort” perk that comes from sleeping in the same bed with them. I’m going to assume of course that what that means is “snuggling in sweatpants.” But don’t get excited here, people. This isn’t the grand epic romance of our time like the Twilight series or something. Love in Skyrim, as I found out consists mainly of picking the person who annoys you the least.
Now then – as my Imperial roamed the land of Skyrim, shouting at dragons, smithing magical items and shooting people in the face with arrows, she got to thinking – This adventurous lifestyle is all well and good, but it would be nice to have someone to snuggle in sweatpants with every now and then. So she picked herself up an Amulet of Mara and let the slathering suitors come forth. One would think that with such a wealth of options, it would be easy to choose a suitable mate. However, I found it to be completely the opposite. I wasn’t going to let my hot little Imperial marry just anyone. They had to prove themselves worthy of her.
One of the cool things about Skyrim is the inclusion of same sex marriages, so I decided that my gal was an equal opportunity love seeker. Except for when it came to Khajit and Argonian folks. No offense to the furry folk or underwater breathing individuals of Tamriel, but I just couldn’t get behind the idea of being a real life furry or the idea of reptiles with breasts. Sorry, Skyrim. It just wasn’t going to happen. Also, generally speaking I find the High Elves to be like those snobby socialites who like to rude-nice you while judging your pants. You know the type – the “oh you’re wearing that?” type. So that eliminated a few folks and I was able to scratch them off my list.
Next to go were the shopkeepers or stall owners in the game. Please. I’m an adventurer. I’ve killed bears with nothing but a dagger. I’ve shot fireballs from my hands at giant frost trolls. I have made roughly 364 Draugr my proverbial bitches. I cannot be pinned down to some lowly merchant or innkeeper. I can just see those day end conversations:
Spouse: “I sold a clay pot today. What did you do?”
Me: “I absorbed a bunch of dragon souls then annihiliated three or four bandit strongholds singlehandedly. Then I punched a giant to death.”
Yeah. Not going to work. So there are a few more people to cross off the list. You could argue that marrying a blacksmith might be advantageous because they at least craft your weapons of mass awesomeness, but that just feels like settling to me. It was obvious to me at this point that I needed someone just as bad ass as I was. That meant I needed someone who could come along with me and watch my back in a fight, someone who wasn’t afraid of getting a little blood on their hands, someone who would charge in with me toward the danger and not away from it.
Jenassa – One first meets Jenassa at the Drunken Huntsman in Whiterun and you can hire her for 500 septims to come along with you and tear some shit up. I had to give this gal credit. She’s pretty bad ass, plus she’s one of few Dunmer in the game that doesn’t look like some sort of demon. She could hold her own in a fight and seemed really excited about it. Maybe a little too excited. She kept saying things about being some kind of artist who splashes a canvas in the blood of her enemies. Her poetic tone got a little too faux goth for me. Then there was the fact that I had to pay her again to hang out with me the next time. I thought we were friends, girl. All right, I like you but you’re off the list.
Uthgerd the Unbroken – Another totally bad ass female in the game. She kind of made me think of a crotchety older aunt though so no marriage here. We were good buds until a dragon killed her. Uthgerd the Unbroken ended up broken. It made me sad. Then I looted her house.
Lydia – Oh Lydia, the gods tease me so. You are beautiful. You are strong. You’re pretty good in fight. Mostly you’re just so pretty you make me weak in the knees. Alas, a bug prevents me from making you my wife. A bug and that whole snarky put upon attitude you have about being “sworn to carry my burdens.” And if you could just for once not get mangled by a trap that would be great. Oh Lydia, my heart longs for you…. kind of…sort of…a little. But it is not meant to be.
After completing much of the whole questline involving the Elite Super Friends Team or The Companions several marriage options open up to you at their hangout. From what I can tell the majority of the Companions just kind of hang out at their house and complain about shit so I focused mainly on the three leader types, Vilkas, Farkas and Aela.
Vilkas – Okay we get it. You’re smart. You’re smarter than your brother. But during a major questline you decided to completely abandon me because you were searching deep within yourself to find the source of your anger or some bullshit. Sorry, Yoda. I don’t give a crap about how ashamed you were that you killed a bunch of people “from a place of anger and vengeance.” That’s how you kill people. Get over it.
Farkas – Not bad, Farkas. Not bad. I admit it’s kind of hot that you have that whole werewolf thing going for you. I find your lack of intelligence more charming than anything. You’re kind of adorable and I feel like we could really get along even if you are dumber than a brick. We may have a winner folks.
….I’m sorry. Did you just tell me you’re afraid of spiders? Did you just completely bail on me in the middle of a quest to go hang out with your emo brother while Aela and I do the rest of this shit on our own? Yes. You did. I’ve lost respect for you as a man, a warrior, and a werewolf. Good day, sir.
Aela – Aela, I think I’m in love with you. You’re fiery and fierce and you have awesome war paint. Plus you look totally sexy in that armor of yours. I’m gonna marry the shit out of you.
….Wait. Surely this is a bug. This is a total glitch. You barely just left my sight after our victorious quest together. This can’t be. This is a practical joke.
Well, shit. Nevermind I guess. It should be noted that this is an actual total fuck up in the game as Aela is supposed to be unkillable given her questline significance. Thanks, game!
There is a veritable cornucopia of potentials that pass by during the game. The entire list can be found here. Some of them are probably perfectly good enough, but I actually got bored of the idea of even getting hitched after awhile. I did continue to wear the Amulet of Mara around though, because I enjoyed people telling me I was pretty and then ignoring them like I was way too good for them. Slowly but surely my requirements for finding a suitable spouse were dwindling and whittling themselves down.
Finally the only thing I required in a mate was the following: That he or she didn’t bitch about carrying about 687lbs worth of Dragon Bones, and that he or she didn’t charge into a fight when I was trying to sneak around…. That’s about it actually.
I found this in Vorstag, whom my Imperial met at the Silver Blood Inn in Markarth. He appeared to have all his limbs, a decent looking face with a cool tattoo, and when I found him he looked like he was enjoying a good stiff drink. So I paid him the 500 and hired him. And he was a treat. He didn’t muck up my fights. He was an effective tank for my archery focused heroine. He had amusing battle cries. And when I told him to “wait here” while I did all sorts of illegal fuckery he offered a good natured “don’t start any trouble without me” even as I was leaving him to rob some poor shop owner blind. What a dear.
In truth I actually only married the dude because I realized Lydia was carrying all the stuff I wanted to sell and I didn’t really feel like hiring Vorstag again for another 500 bones. So I just married him. It really is a love story for the ages, folks. I’d love to be able to tell you that there are differences in these characters and in the way they interact with your player character, but Bethesda keeps it pretty standard and vague here. It works. You can concoct a whole love story in your head (if you’re crazy or me or both) or you can just assume it was a marriage of convenience. Ultimately what you’re getting with the Skyrim marriage is a big fat “you’ll do.” And I for one, find that magical.