Marriage
Overview
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

. It is an institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

 in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 or subculture in which it is found. Such a union, often formalized via a wedding
Wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

 ceremony, may also be called matrimony.

People marry for many reasons, including one or more of the following: legal, social, libidinal
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

, emotional, economic, spiritual, and religious.
Quotations

Marriage is unusual in that the more I see of it, the less I believe in it.

Jacob M. Appel, The Mistress of Wholesome|The Mistress of Wholesome

A husband is what is left of a lover, after the nerve has been extracted.

Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men

Some marriages give bachelors a master's degree.

Leonid S. Sukhorukov|Leonid S. Sukhorukov, All About Everything

Marge: Homer, is this the way you pictured married life? Homer: Yup, pretty much. Except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

The Simpsons and others.

A marriage so free, so spontaneous, that it would allow of wide excursions of the pair from each other, in common or even in separate objects of work and interest, and yet would hold them all the time in the bond of absolute sympathy, would by its very freedom be all the more poignantly attractive, and by its very scope and breadth all the richer and more vital -- would be in a sense indestructible.

Edward Carpenter, Love's Coming of Age

Marriage is wonderful when it lasts forever, and I envy the old couples in When Harry Met Sally who reminisce tearfully about the day they met 50 years before. I no longer believe, however, that a marriage is a failure if it doesn't last forever. It may be a tragedy, but it is not necessarily a failure. And when a marriage does last forever with love alive, it is a miracle.

Peggy O'Mara, Mothering, Fall 1989

Marriage, n. A community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

A bad marriage is like an electrical thrilling machine: it makes you dance, but you can't let go.

Ambrose Bierce, A Cynic Looks at Life, 1912

There's nothing a woman hates more than her fiance's best friend. He knows all the secrets she's going to spend the rest of her life trying to find out.

Jeff Douglas line in the musical Brigadoon

Encyclopedia
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

. It is an institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

 in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 or subculture in which it is found. Such a union, often formalized via a wedding
Wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

 ceremony, may also be called matrimony.

People marry for many reasons, including one or more of the following: legal, social, libidinal
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

, emotional, economic, spiritual, and religious. These might include arranged marriages, family obligations, the legal establishment of a nuclear family unit, the legal protection of children and public declaration of commitment
Promise
A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something.In the law of contract, an exchange of promises is usually held to be legally enforceable, according to the Latin maxim pacta sunt servanda.- Types :...

. The act of marriage usually creates normative
Normative
Normative has specialized contextual meanings in several academic disciplines. Generically, it means relating to an ideal standard or model. In practice, it has strong connotations of relating to a typical standard or model ....

 or legal obligations between the individuals involved. In some societies these obligations also extend to certain family members of the married persons. Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

 or annulment
Annulment
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place...

.

Marriage is usually recognized by the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

, a religious authority, or both. It is often viewed as a contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage law
Marriage law
Marriage law refers to the legal requirements which determine the validity of a marriage, which vary considerably between countries.- Rights and obligations :...

s of the jurisdiction.

Definitions

Anthropologists have proposed several competing definitions of marriage so as to encompass the wide variety of marital practices observed across cultures. In his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermarck
Edvard Westermarck
Edvard Alexander Westermarck was a Swedish-speaking Finnish philosopher and sociologist. Among other subjects, he studied exogamy and the incest taboo....

 defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring." In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognised by custom or law".

The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners." In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances, Kathleen Gough
Kathleen Gough
Eleanor Kathleen Gough Aberle was a British anthropologist who was known for her work in South Asia and South-East Asia. As a part of her doctorate work, she did field research in Malabar district from 1947 to 1949. She did further research in Tanjore district from 1950 to 1953 and again in 1976,...

 suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."

Edmund Leach
Edmund Leach
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist of whom it has been said:"It is no exaggeration to say that in sheer versatility, originality, and range of writing he was and still is difficult to match among the anthropologists of the English speaking world".-Personal and academic...

 criticized Gough's definition for being too restrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring and suggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different types of rights it serves to establish. Leach expanded the definition and proposed that "Marriage is a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum" Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to all cultures. He offered a list of ten rights associated with marriage, including sexual monopoly and rights with respect to children, with specific rights differing across cultures.

Duran Bell
Duran Bell
Duran Bell is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of California, Irvine. He was formerly a professor there in two departments, Economics and Anthropology.-Education and early career:...

 also criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy, arguing that in societies where illegitimacy means only that the mother is unmarried and has no other legal implications, a legitimacy-based definition of marriage is circular. He proposed defining marriage in terms of sexual access rights.

Etymology

The modern English word "marriage" derives from Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 mariage, which first appears in 1250–1300 C.E. This in turn is derived from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 marier (to marry) and ultimately Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 marītāre (to marry) and marītus (of marriage).

History of marriage by culture

Although the institution of marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history
Recorded history
Recorded history is the period in history of the world after prehistory. It has been written down using language, or recorded using other means of communication. It starts around the 4th millennium BC, with the invention of writing.-Historical accounts:...

, many cultures have legends concerning the origins of marriage. The way in which a marriage is conducted and its rules and ramifications has changed over time, as has the institution itself, depending on the culture or demographic of the time. Various cultures have had their own theories on the origin of marriage. One example may lie in a man's need for assurance as to paternity of his children. He might therefore be willing to pay a bride price or provide for a woman in exchange for exclusive sexual access. Legitimacy
Legitimacy (law)
At common law, legitimacy is the status of a child who is born to parents who are legally married to one another; and of a child who is born shortly after the parents' divorce. In canon and in civil law, the offspring of putative marriages have been considered legitimate children...

 is the consequence of this transaction rather than its motivation. In Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to obtain any benefit from marriage. But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. "In almost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the intensity of this competition."
Forms of group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

 which involve more than one member of each sex, and therefore are not either polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 or polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

, have existed in history. However, these forms of marriage are extremely rare. Of the 250 societies reported by the American anthropologist George P. Murdock in 1949, only the Caingang of Brazil had any group marriages at all.

Various marriage practices
Types of marriages
The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture, and can change over time. In general there are two types: civil marriage and religious marriage, and typically marriages employ a combination of both The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from...

 have existed throughout the world. In some societies an individual is limited to being in one such couple at a time (monogamy
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

), while other cultures allow a male to have more than one wife
Wife
A wife is a female partner in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the wife regarding her spouse and others, and her status in the community and in law, varies between cultures and has varied over time.-Origin and etymology:...

 (polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

) or, less commonly, a female to have more than one husband
Husband
A husband is a male participant in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between cultures and has varied over time...

 (polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

). Some societies also allow marriage between two males or two females. Societies frequently have other restrictions on marriage based on the ages of the participants, pre-existing kinship, and membership in religious or other social groups.

Europe

In Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage
Ancient Greek marriage law
Ancient Greek marriage law concerns the laws and practices involving the institution of marriage in ancient Greece.-Marriage as a public interest:...

 – only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly. Men usually married when they were in their 20s and women in their teens. It has been suggested that these ages made sense for the Greeks because men were generally done with military service or financially established by their late 20s, and marrying a young girl ensured ample time for her to bear children, as life expentancies were significantly lower during this period. Married Greek women had few rights in ancient Greek society and were expected to take care of the house and children. Time was an important factor in Greek marriage. For example, there were superstitions that being married during a full moon
Full moon
Full moon lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. More precisely, a full moon occurs when the geocentric apparent longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180 degrees; the Moon is then in opposition with the Sun.Lunar eclipses can only occur at...

 was good luck and, according to Robert Flacelière
Robert Flacelière
Robert Flacelière was a scholar of Classical Greek born in Paris, France, in 1904. He was educated at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, the Lycée Henri IV and the École Normale Supérieure. From 1925 to 1930, he was a member of the French School in Athens and from 1932-1948 a Professor of the Faculty of...

, Greeks married in the winter. Inheritance was more important than feelings: a woman whose father dies without male heirs could be forced to marry her nearest male relative—even if she had to divorce her husband first.

There were several types of marriages in ancient Roman society. The traditional ("conventional") form called conventio in manum required a ceremony with witnesses and was also dissolved with a ceremony. In this type of marriage, a woman lost her family rights of inheritance of her old family and gained them with her new one. She now was subject to the authority of her husband. There was the free marriage known as sine manu. In this arrangement, the wife remained a member of her original family; she stayed under the authority of her father, kept her family rights of inheritance with her old family and did not gain any with the new family. The minimum age of marriage for girls was 12.

From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter, with no uniform religious or other ceremony being required. However, bishop Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

 writing around 110 to bishop Polycarp
Polycarp
Saint Polycarp was a 2nd century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him...

 of Smyrna exhorts, "[I]t becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust."

In the 12th century women were obligated to take the name of their husbands and starting in the second half of the 16th century parental consent along with the church's consent was required for marriage.

With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties. The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required. This promise was known as the "verbum." If freely given and made in the present tense (e.g., "I marry you"), it was unquestionably binding; if made in the future tense ("I will marry you"), it would constitute a betrothal. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts. During the Middle Ages marriages were arranged, sometimes as early as birth, and these early pledges to marry were often used to ensure treaties between different royal families, nobles, and heirs of fiefdoms. The church resisted these imposed unions, and increased the number of causes for nullification of these arrangements. As Christianity spread during the Roman period and the Middle Ages, the idea of free choice in selecting marriage partners increased and spread with it.

The average age of marriage in the late 13th century into the 16th century was around 25 years of age.

As part of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state, reflecting Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's view that marriage was a "worldly thing". By the 17th century many of the Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 European countries had a state involvement in marriage. As of 2000, the average marriage age range was 25–44 years for men and 22–39 years for women. In England, under the Anglican Church, marriage by consent and cohabitation was valid until the passage of Lord Hardwicke's Act in 1753. This act instituted certain requirements for marriage, including the performance of a religious ceremony observed by witnesses.

As part of the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

, in 1563 the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 decreed that a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

, issued in 1566, which defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life."

In the early modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

, John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 and his Protestant colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed "The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage" for recognition.

In England and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753
Marriage Act 1753
The Marriage Act 1753, full title "An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage", popularly known as Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act , was the first statutory legislation in England and Wales to require a formal ceremony of marriage. It came into force on 25 March 1754...

 required a formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage
Fleet Marriage
A Fleet Marriage is the best-known example of an irregular or a clandestine marriage taking place in England before the Marriage Act 1753 came into force on March 25, 1754...

. These were clandestine or irregular marriages performed at Fleet Prison, and at hundreds of other places. From the 1690s until the Marriage Act of 1753 as many as 300,000 clandestine marriages were performed at Fleet Prison alone. The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiated by an Anglican priest in the Anglican Church with two witnesses and registration. The Act did not apply to Jewish marriages or those of Quakers, whose marriages continued to be governed by their own customs.

In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have been recognized as a legal alternative to church marriages under the Marriage Act of 1836. In Germany, civil marriages were recognized in 1875. This law permitted a declaration of the marriage before an official clerk of the civil administration, when both spouses affirm their will to marry, to constitute a legally recognized valid and effective marriage, and allowed an optional private clerical marriage ceremony.

In contemporary English common law, a marriage is a voluntary contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

 by a man and a woman, in which by agreement they choose to become husband and wife. Edvard Westermarck proposed that "the institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval habit".

China

The mythological origin of Chinese marriage is a story about Nüwa
Nüwa
Nüwa is a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology best known for creating mankind and repairing the wall of heaven.-Primary sources:...

 and Fu Xi who invented proper marriage procedures after becoming married. In ancient Chinese society, people of the same surname were not supposed to marry and doing so was seen as incest. However, because marriage to one's maternal relatives was not thought of as incest, families sometimes intermarried from one generation to another. Over time, Chinese people became more geographically mobile. Individuals remained members of their biological families. When a couple died, the husband and the wife were buried separately in the respective clans’ graveyard. In a maternal marriage, a male would become a son-in-law who lived in the wife's home.

The New Marriage Law
New Marriage Law
The New Marriage Law was a civil marriage law passed in the People's Republic of China on May 1, 1950. It was a radical change from existing patriarchal Chinese marriage traditions, and needed constant support from propaganda campaigns...

 of 1950 radically changed Chinese marriage traditions, enforcing monogamy
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

, equality of men and women, and choice in marriage; arranged marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

s were the most common type of marriage in China until then.

Same-sex marriage

Various types of same-sex marriages have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions.

While it is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of legal marital recognition as commonly used by mixed-sex couples, recent publicity and debate over the past decade gives an impression that civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples is novel and untested. There is a long history of recorded same-sex unions around the world. It is believed that same-sex unions were celebrated in Ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China, such as Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

, and at certain times in ancient European history. A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) issued in 342 CE imposed severe penalties or death on same-sex marriage in ancient Rome but the exact intent of the law and its relation to social practice is unclear, as only a few examples of same-sex marriage in that culture exist.

Group marriage

Group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

 also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory
Polyamory
Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved....

  in which more than two persons form a family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

 unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parent
Parent
A parent is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. In humans, a parent is of a child . Children can have one or more parents, but they must have two biological parents. Biological parents consist of the male who sired the child and the female who gave birth to the child...

al responsibility for any children arising from the marriage. No country legally condones group marriages, neither under the law nor as a common law marriage.

Selection of a partner

There is wide cross-cultural variation in the social rules governing the selection of a partner for marriage. There is variation in the degree to which partner selection is an individual decision by the partners or a collective decision by the partners' kin groups, and there is variation in the rules regulating which partners are valid choices.

In many societies the choice of partner is limited to suitable persons from specific social groups. In some societies the rule is that a partner is selected from an individual's own social group – endogamy
Endogamy
Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. A Greek Orthodox Christian endogamist, for example, would require that a marriage be only with another...

, this is the case in many class and caste based societies. But in other societies a partner must be chosen from a different group than one's own – exogamy
Exogamy
Exogamy is a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside of a social group. The social groups define the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects:...

, this is the case in many societies practicing totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

ic religion where society is divided into several exogamous totemic clans, such as most Aboriginal Australian societies. In other societies a person is expected to marry their cross-cousin, a woman must marry her father's sister's son and a man must marry his mother's brother's daughter – this is often the case if either a society has a rule of tracing kinship exclusively through patrilineal or matrilineal descent groups as among the Akan people
Akan people
The Akan people are an ethnic group found predominately in Ghana and The Ivory Coast. Akans are the majority in both of these countries and overall have a population of over 20 million people.The Akan speak Kwa languages-Origin and ethnogenesis:...

 of Africa. Another kind of marriage selection is the levirate marriage
Levirate marriage
Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obligated to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obligated to marry her deceased husband's brother....

 in which widows are obligated to marry their husband's brother, this is mostly found in societies where kinship is based on endogamous clan groups.

In other cultures with less strict rules governing the groups from which a partner can be chosen the selection of a marriage partner may involve either the couple going through a selection process of courtship
Courtship
Courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement...

 or the marriage may be arranged
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

 by the couple's parents or an outside party, a matchmaker
Matchmaking
Matchmaking is any process of matching two people for the purpose of marriage or a sporting contest.-Practice:In some cultures, the role of the matchmaker was and is quite professionalized...

.

A pragmatic (or 'arranged') marriage is made easier by formal procedures of family or group politics. A responsible authority sets up or encourages the marriage; they may, indeed, engage a professional matchmaker
Matchmaking
Matchmaking is any process of matching two people for the purpose of marriage or a sporting contest.-Practice:In some cultures, the role of the matchmaker was and is quite professionalized...

 to find a suitable spouse for an unmarried person. The authority figure could be parents, family, a religious official, or a group consensus. In some cases, the authority figure may choose a match for purposes other than marital harmony.

In rural Indian villages, child marriage
Child marriage
Child marriage and child betrothal customs occur in various times and places, whereby children are given in matrimony - before marriageable age as defined by the commentator and often before puberty. Today such customs are fairly widespread in parts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America: in...

 is also practiced, with parents at times arranging the wedding, sometimes even before the child is born. This practice was made illegal under the Child Marriage Restraint Act
Child Marriage Restraint Act
Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 popularly known as the Sarda Act after its sponsor Rai Sahib Harbilas Sarda to the British India Legislature in India was passed on 28 September 1929, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years. It came into effect six months later on...

 of 1929.

In some societies ranging from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 to the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 to Africa, the custom of bride kidnapping
Bride kidnapping
Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice throughout history and around the world in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry...

 still exists, in which a woman is captured by a man and his friends. Sometimes this covers an elopement, but sometimes it depends on sexual violence
Sexual violence
Sexual violence occurs throughout the world, although in most countries there has been little research conducted on the problem. Due to the private nature of sexual violence, estimating the extent of the problem is difficult...

. In previous times, raptio
Raptio
Raptio is a Latin term referring to the abduction of women, either for marriage or enslavement . In Roman Catholic canon law, raptio refers to the legal prohibition of matrimony if the bride was abducted forcibly...

was a larger-scale version of this, with groups of women captured by groups of men, sometimes in war; the most famous example is The Rape of the Sabine Women
The Rape of the Sabine Women
The Rape of the Sabine Women is an episode in the legendary history of Rome in which the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves from the neighboring Sabine families. The English word "rape" is a conventional translation of Latin raptio, which in this context means "abduction"...

, which provided the first citizens of Rome with their wives.

Other marriage partners are more or less imposed on an individual. For example, widow inheritance
Widow inheritance
Widow inheritance, also known as bride inheritance, is a type of marriage in which a widow marries a kinsman of her late husband, often his brother....

 provides a widow with another man from her late husband's brothers.

Marriage ceremony

A marriage is usually formalized at a wedding or marriage ceremony. The ceremony may be officiated either by a religious official, by a government official or by a state approved celebrant. In many European and some Latin American countries, any religious ceremony must be held separately from the required civil ceremony. Some countries – such as Belgium, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, France, the Netherlands, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 – require that a civil ceremony take place before any religious one. In some countries – notably the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, Norway and Spain – both ceremonies can be held together; the officiant at the religious and civil ceremony also serving as agent of the state to perform the civil ceremony. To avoid any implication that the state is "recognizing" a religious marriage (which is prohibited in some countries) – the "civil" ceremony is said to be taking place at the same time as the religious ceremony. Often this involves simply signing a register during the religious ceremony. If the civil element of the religious ceremony is omitted, the marriage is not recognized by government under the law.

While some countries, such as Australia, permit marriages to be held in private and at any location, others, including England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, require that the civil ceremony be conducted in a place open to the public and specially sanctioned by law. In England, the place of marriage need no longer be a church or register office
Register office
A register office is a British term for a civil registry, a government office and depository where births, deaths and marriages are officially recorded and where you can get officially married, without a religious ceremony...

, but could also be a hotel, historic building or other venue that has obtained the necessary license. An exception can be made in the case of marriage by special emergency license, which is normally granted only when one of the parties is terminally ill. Rules about where and when persons can marry vary from place to place. Some regulations require that one of the parties reside in the locality of the registry office.

Within the parameters set by the law of the jurisdiction in which a marriage or wedding takes place, each religious authority has rules for the manner in which weddings are to be conducted by their officials and members.

Cohabitation

Marriage is an institution which can join together people's lives in a variety of emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

al and economic
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 ways. In many Western cultures, marriage usually leads to the formation of a new household comprising the married couple, with the married couple living together in the same home, often sharing the same bed, but in some other cultures this is not the tradition. Among the Minangkabau of West Sumatra
West Sumatra
West Sumatra is a province of Indonesia. It lies on the west coast of the island Sumatra. It borders the provinces of North Sumatra to the north, Riau and Jambi to the east, and Bengkulu to the southeast. It includes the Mentawai Islands off the coast...

, residency after marriage is matrilocal
Matrilocality
In social anthropology, matrilocal residence or matrilocality is a term referring to the societal system in which a married couple resides with or near the wife's parents, thus the female offspring of a mother remain living in the mother's house, thereby forming large clan-families, typically...

, with the husband moving into the household of his wife's mother. Residency after marriage can also be patrilocal or avunculocal. Such marriages have also been increasingly common in modern Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. Guo Jianmei, director of the center for women's studies at Beijing University, told a Newsday
Newsday
Newsday is a daily American newspaper that primarily serves Nassau and Suffolk counties and the New York City borough of Queens on Long Island, although it is sold throughout the New York metropolitan area...

 correspondent, "Walking marriages reflect sweeping changes in Chinese society." A similar arrangement in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, called misyar marriage
Nikah Misyar
Nikah Misyar is a Muslim Nikah carried out via the normal contractual procedure, with the specificity that the husband and wife give up several rights by their own free will, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy, the wife's rights to housing, and...

, also involves the husband and wife living separately but meeting regularly.

Conversely, marriage is not a prerequisite for cohabitation
Cohabitation
Cohabitation usually refers to an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married...

. In some cases couples living together do not wish to be recognized as married, such as when pension or alimony rights are adversely affected, or because of taxation consideration, or because of immigration issues, and for many other reasons. In modern western societies some couples cohabitate before marriage to test whether such an arrangement might work in the long term.

In some cases cohabitation may constitute a common-law marriage, and in some countries the laws recognize cohabitation in preference to the formality of marriage for taxation and social security benefits. This is the case, for example, in Australia.

Sex and procreation

Many of the world's major religions look with disfavor on sexual relations
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 outside of marriage. Many non-secular states, mostly with Muslim majorities, sanction criminal penalties for sexual intercourse before marriage
Fornication
Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The...

. Sexual relations by a married person with someone other than his/her spouse is known as adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

 and is also frequently disapproved by the major world religions (some calling it a sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

). Adultery is considered in many jurisdictions to be a crime and grounds for divorce.

On the other hand, marriage is not a prerequisite for having children. In the United States, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 1992, 30.1 percent of births were to unmarried women. In 2006, that number had risen to 38.5 percent. Children born outside of marriage, bastards and whoresons
Bastard (Law of England and Wales)
A bastard in the law of England and Wales is a person whose parents, at the time of his/her birth, were not married to each other....

, were known as illegitimate
Legitimacy (law)
At common law, legitimacy is the status of a child who is born to parents who are legally married to one another; and of a child who is born shortly after the parents' divorce. In canon and in civil law, the offspring of putative marriages have been considered legitimate children...

 and suffered legal disadvantages and social stigma. In recent years the legal relevance of illegitimacy has declined and social acceptance has increased, especially in western countries.

Some married couples choose not to have children and so remain childfree
Childfree
Childfree also known as "voluntary childlessness" is a form of childlessness. The term was coined in the English language late in the 20th century and is used to describe people who have made a personal decision not to have children. The term childfree also describes domestic and urban...

. Others are unable to have children because of infertility
Infertility
Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term...

 or other factors preventing conception or the bearing of children. In some cultures, marriage imposes an obligation on women to bear children. In northern Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, for example, payment of bridewealth signifies a woman's requirement to bear children, and women using birth control face substantial threats of physical abuse and reprisals.

Marriage law

Marriage laws refer to the legal requirements which determine the validity of a marriage, which vary considerably between countries.

Common-law marriage

In some jurisdictions but not all, marriage relationships may be created by the operation of the law alone. Unlike the typical ceremonial marriage
Ceremonial marriage
Ceremonial marriage is a common form of marriage in which a couple follows laws and procedures specified by the state in order to gain recognition of their marriage...

 with legal contract, wedding ceremony, and other details, a common-law marriage
Common-law marriage
Common-law marriage, sometimes called sui juris marriage, informal marriage or marriage by habit and repute, is a form of interpersonal status that is legally recognized in limited jurisdictions as a marriage even though no legally recognized marriage ceremony is performed or civil marriage...

 may be called "marriage by habit and repute (cohabitation)." A de facto common-law marriage without a license or ceremony is legally binding in some jurisdictions but has no legal consequence in others.

Rights and obligations

A marriage bestows rights and obligations on the married parties, and sometimes on relatives
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

 as well, being the sole mechanism for the creation of affinal ties
Affinity (law)
In law and in cultural anthropology, affinity, as distinguished from consanguinity, is kinship by marriage. It is the relation which each party to a marriage bears to the kindred of the other. In English, affinity is usually signified by adding "-in-law" to the degree of kinship...

 (in-laws). These may include:
  • Giving a husband/wife or his/her family control over a spouse's sexual services, labor, and property.
  • Giving a husband/wife responsibility for a spouse's debts.
  • Giving a husband/wife visitation rights when his/her spouse is incarcerated or hospitalized.
  • Giving a husband/wife control over his/her spouse's affairs when the spouse is incapacitated.
  • Establishing the second legal guardian
    Legal guardian
    A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability...

     of a parent's child.
  • Establishing a joint fund of property for the benefit of children.
  • Establishing a relationship between the families of the spouses.


These rights and obligations vary considerably between societies, and between groups within society.

Marriage restrictions

Marriage is an institution that is historically filled with restrictions. From age, to race, to social status, to consanguinity
Consanguinity
Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

, to gender, restrictions are placed on marriage by society for reasons of benefiting the children, passing on healthy genes, maintaining cultural values, or because of prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 and fear
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

. Almost all cultures that recognize marriage also recognize adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

 as a violation of the terms of marriage.

The United States has had a history of marriage restriction laws. Many states enacted miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

 laws which were first introduced in the late 17th century in the slave-holding colonies of Virginia (1691) and Maryland (1692) and lasted until 1967 (until it was overturned via Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, , was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v...

). Many of these states restricted several minorities from marrying whites. For example, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, and Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 banned Blacks in particular. States such as Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 and Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 banned Blacks and Asians. States such as North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 banned Blacks and Native Americans, and some states such as Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, South Carolina, and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 banned all non-whites.

It is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of legal marital recognition available to mixed-sexed couples. In the United States, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

 (DOMA) explicitly defines marriage for the purposes of federal law as between a man and a woman and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states (though states arguably could do this already). Forty-one US states currently define marriage as between a man and a woman. Three of those states have statutory language that pre-dates DOMA (enacted before 1996) defining marriage as such. Thirty states have defined marriage in their constitutions. Arizona is the only state that has ever defeated a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman (2006), but it subsequently passed one in 2008.

Societies have often placed restrictions on marriage to relatives, though the degree of prohibited relationship varies widely. With few exceptions, marriages between parents and children or between full siblings have been considered incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

 and forbidden. However, marriages between more distant relatives
Cousin marriage
Cousin marriage is marriage between two cousins. In various jurisdictions and cultures, such marriages range from being considered ideal and actively encouraged, to being uncommon but still legal, to being seen as incest and legally prohibited....

 have been much more common, with one estimate being that 80% of all marriages in history have been between second cousins or closer. In modern times this proportion has fallen dramatically, but still more than 10% of all marriages are believed to be between first and second cousins. In the United States, such marriages are now highly stigmatized, and laws ban most or all first-cousin marriage in 30 states. Specifics vary: in South Korea, historically it was illegal to marry someone with the same last name.

Many societies have required a person to marry within their own general social group, which anthropologists refer to as endogamy
Endogamy
Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. A Greek Orthodox Christian endogamist, for example, would require that a marriage be only with another...

. An example of such restrictions would be a requirement to marry someone from the same tribe.

Restrictions against polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 have been common. Opposition to the recognition of Deseret
State of Deseret
The State of Deseret was a proposed state of the United States, propositioned in 1849 by Latter-day Saint settlers in Salt Lake City. The provisional state existed for slightly over two years and was never recognized by the United States government...

 as a State by the Federal government was founded on opposition to the once-practiced polygamous marriages of Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

.

State recognition

In many jurisdictions, a civil marriage may take place as part of the religious marriage ceremony, although they are theoretically distinct. Some jurisdictions allow civil marriages in circumstances which are notably not allowed by particular religions, such as same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

s or civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

s.

Marriage and religion

Among the precepts of mainstream religions are found, as a rule, unequivocal prescriptions for marriage, establishing both rituals and rules of conduct.

In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 (Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

) describes a number of marriages, including those of Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

, Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, and Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

. Polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

, or men having multiple wives at once, is one of the most common marital arrangements represented in the Hebrew Bible.

Betrothal (erusin
Erusin
Erusin is the Hebrew term for betrothal. In modern Hebrew, "erusin" means engagement, but this is not the historical meaning of the term, which is the first part of marriage ....

), which is merely a binding promise to get married, is distinct from marriage itself (nissu'in), with the time between these events varying substantially. Since a wife was regarded as property in those days, the betrothal (erusin) was effected simply by purchasing her from her father (or guardian); the girl’s consent is not explicitly required by any biblical law. Like the adjacent Arabic culture (in the pre-Islamic period
Pre-Islamic Arabia
Pre-Islamic Arabia refers to the Arabic civilization which existed in the Arabian Plate before the rise of Islam in the 630s. The study of Pre-Islamic Arabia is important to Islamic studies as it provides the context for the development of Islam.-Studies:...

), the act of marriage appears mainly to have consisted of the groom fetching the bride, although among the Israelites (unlike the Arabs) the procession was a festive occasion, accompanied by music, dancing, and lights. To celebrate the marriage, week-long feasts were sometimes held.

In biblical times, a wife was regarded as chattel, belonging to her husband; the descriptions of the bible suggest that she would be expected to perform tasks such as spinning, sewing, weaving, manufacture of clothing, fetching of water, baking of bread, and animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

. However, wives were usually looked after with care, and men with more than one wife were expected to ensure that they continue to give the first wife food, clothing, and marital rights.

Since a wife was regarded as property, her husband was originally free to divorce her for any reason, at any time. A divorced couple were permitted to get back together, unless the wife had married someone else after her divorce.

Judaism

In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, marriage is viewed as a contractual bond commanded by God in which a man and a woman come together to create a relationship in which God is directly involved. Though procreation is not the sole purpose, a Jewish marriage is also expected to fulfill the commandment to have children. The main focus centers around the relationship between the husband and wife. Kabbalistically
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, marriage is understood to mean that the husband and wife are merging together into a single soul. This is why a man is considered "incomplete" if he is not married, as his soul is only one part of a larger whole that remains to be unified.

Christianity

Christians variously regard marriage as a sacrament, a contract, a sacred institution, or a covenant. From the very beginning of the Christian Church, marriage law and theology have been a major matter. The foundation of the Western tradition of Christian marriages have been the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.

Christians often marry for religious reasons ranging from following the biblical injunction for a "man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one," to obeying Canon Law stating marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

.

Divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

 and remarriage
Remarriage
Remarriage is a marriage that takes place after a previous marital union has ended, as through divorce or widowhood.Some individuals are more likely to remarry than others; the likelihood can differ based on previous relationship status , level of interest in establishing a new romantic...

 while generally not encouraged are regarded differently by each Christian denomination. Most Protestant Churches allow people to marry again after a divorce. The Eastern Orthodox Church allows divorce for a limited number of reasons, and in theory, but usually not in practice, requires that a marriage after divorce be celebrated with a penitential overtone. In the Roman Catholic Church, marriage can only be ended by an annulment
Annulment (Catholic Church)
In the Roman Catholic Church an annulment is the procedure, governed by the Church's Canon Law and the Catechism, whereby an ecclesial tribunal determines the sacrament of marriage was invalidly entered into. An annulment determines the Catholic marriage to be void at its inception...

 where the Church for special reasons regards it as never having taken place.

Liturgical Christianity

Anglicans, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox consider marriage termed holy matrimony to be an expression of divine grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

, termed a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

or mystery
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

. In Western ritual
Western Rite
Western Rite can refer to:*Latin liturgical rites, rites used by the Roman Catholic Church and other Western Christians deriving from Catholicism...

, the ministers of the sacrament are the husband and wife themselves, with a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

, or deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 merely witnessing the union on behalf of the church, and adding a blessing. In Eastern ritual churches
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, the bishop or priest functions as the actual minister of the Sacred Mystery (Eastern Orthodox deacons may not perform marriages). Western Christians commonly refer to marriage as a vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

, while Eastern Christians consider it an ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 and a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

dom, though the theological emphases indicated by the various names are not excluded by the teachings of either tradition. Marriage is commonly celebrated in the context of a Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

ic service (a nuptial Mass or Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

). The sacrament of marriage is indicative of the relationship between Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 and the Church.
Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic tradition of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries defined marriage as a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 ordained by God, signifying the mystical marriage of Christ to his Church.

"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."

The mutual love between man and wife becomes an image of the eternal love with which God loves humankind. The celebration of marriage between two Catholics normally takes place during the public liturgical celebration of the Holy Mass, because of its sacramental connection with the unity of the Paschal mystery of Christ (Communion). Sacramental marriage confers a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses. By its nature, the institution of marriage and conjugal love is ordered to the procreation and upbringing of offspring. Marriage creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children: "[e]ntering marriage with the intention of never having children is a grave wrong and more than likely grounds for an annulment."

According to current Catholic legislation governing marriage, "The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility; in Christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament. Divorce is not recognized, but annulments predicated upon previously existing impediments may be granted. Offspring resulting from annulled relationships are considered legitimate. Remarried persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.
Protestantism

For Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 denominations, the purposes of marriage include intimate companionship, rearing children and mutual support for both husband and wife to fulfill their life callings. Protestants generally approve of birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

and consider marital sexual pleasure to be a gift of God.

Most Reformed Christians would deny the elevation of marriage to the status of a sacrament, nevertheless it is considered a covenant between spouses before God.cf.

Historically, five competing models of marriage in Christianity have shaped Western marriage and legal tradition:
  • The Protestant Reformationists
    Protestant Reformation
    The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

     replaced the Roman Catholic sacramental model.
  • Martin Luther
    Martin Luther
    Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

     saw it as a social "estate of the earthly kingdom...subject to the prince, not the Pope."
  • John Calvin
    John Calvin
    John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

     taught that marriage was a covenant of grace that required the coercive power of the state to preserve its integrity.
  • Anglicans regarded marriage as a domestic commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic."More recently it has been used for fraternal associations of some sovereign nations...

    within England and the church. By the 17th century, Anglican theologians had begun to develop a theology of marriage to replace the sacramental model of marriage. These "regarded the interlocking commonwealths of state, church, and family as something of an earthly form of heavenly government."
  • The secularism
    Secularism
    Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

     of the Enlightenment
    Age of Enlightenment
    The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

     emphasized marriage as a contract "to be formed, maintained, and dissolved as the couple sees fit."

Latter-day Saints


Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) believe that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." The LDS belief is that marriage between a man and a woman can last beyond death and into eternity.

Islam

Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 also commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally.

In Islam, polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 is allowed while polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

 is not, with the specific limitation that men can only have no more than four wives at any one time, with the requirement that they are able and willing to partition their time and wealth equally among the respective wives.

For a Muslim wedding to take place, the bride and her guardian must both agree on the marriage. Should either the guardian or the girl disagree on the marriage, it may not legally take place. In essence, while the guardian/father of the girl has no right to force her to marry, he has the right to stop a marriage from taking place, given that his reasons are valid. The professed purpose of this practice is to ensure that a woman finds a suitable partner whom she has chosen not out of sheer emotion.

From an Islamic (Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

) law perspective, the minimum requirements and responsibilities in a Muslim marriage are that the groom provide living expenses (housing, clothing, food, maintenance) to the bride, and in return, the bride's main responsibility is raising children to be proper Muslims. All other rights and responsibilities are to be decided between the husband and wife, and may even be included as stipulations in the marriage contract before the marriage actually takes place, so long as they do not go against the minimum requirements of the marriage.

In Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 marriage
Islamic marital jurisprudence
In Islamic law , marriage is a legal bond and social contract between a man and a woman. Islam commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally...

 must take place in the presence of at least two reliable witnesses, with the consent of the guardian of the bride and the consent of both the bride and the groom. Following the marriage, the couple may consummate the marriage. To create a religious contract between them, it is sufficient that a man and a woman indicate an intention to marry each other and recite the requisite words in front of a suitable Muslim, nowadays priest will be asked to officiate. The wedding party usually follows but can be held days, or months later, whenever the couple and their families want to, however there can be no concealment of the marriage as it is regarded as public notification due to the requirement of witnesses.

In Shia Islam, marriage may take place without the presence of witnesses as is often the case in temporary mutta
Mutta
Mutta is a Punjabi tribe in India and Pakistan. It is a Brahmin subclan from the Sindhu part. Wattu are also found among Jat gotra . The Mutta are found among Hindus as well as Muslims. The Muslim Mutta live in Punjab, Pakistan....

 marriage (prohibited in Sunni Islam), but with the consent of both the bride and the groom. Following the marriage they may consummate their marriage.

Bahá'í

In the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 marriage is encouraged and viewed as a mutually strengthening bond, but is not obligatory. A Bahá'í marriage
Bahá'í marriage
Bahá'í marriage is union of a man and a woman. Its purpose is mainly spiritual and is to foster harmony, fellowship and unity between the two partners...

 requires the couple to choose each other, and then the consent of all living parents.

Hinduism

Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. Old Hindu literature in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 gives many different types of marriages and their categorization ranging from "Gandharva Vivaha" (instant marriage by mutual consent of participants only, without any need for even a single third person as witness) to normal (present day) marriages, to "Rakshasa Vivaha" ("demoniac" marriage, performed by abduction of one participant by the other participant, usually, but not always, with the help of other persons). The Hindu Widow's Remarriage Act 1856 empowers a Hindu widow to remarry. Though traditionally widow remarriages were frowned upon and are still considered taboo in many parts of India, the society is changing and the incidence of widow remarriage is on a rise.

Although sati
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

, or the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, was officially outlawed by India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

's British rulers in 1829, the rite persists. The most high-profile sati incident was in Rajasthan in 1987 when 18-year-old Roop Kanwar
Roop Kanwar
Roop Kanwar was an 18-year old Rajput woman who committed sati on 4 September 1987 at Deorala village of Sikar district in Rajasthan, India. At the time of her death, she had been married for eight months to Maal Singh Shekhawat, who had died a day earlier at age 24, and had no children.Several...

 was burned to death.

Buddhism

The Buddhist view of marriage considers marriage a secular affair and as such, it is not considered a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

. Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments.

Sikhism

In a Sikh marriage, the couple make rounds around the holy book called Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

four times and the holy man speaks some words from the Guru Granth Sahib in the form of kirtan. The ceremony is known as 'Anand Karaj
Anand Karaj
Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning "Blissful Union" or "Joyful Union", that was introduced by Guru Amar Das. The four Lavan were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das...

' and represents the holy union of between two souls that are united as one.

Same-sex marriage

For the most part, religious traditions in the world reserve marriage to heterosexual unions, but there are exceptions including Unitarian Universalist, Metropolitan Community Church
Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Protestant Christian denomination...

, Quaker, United Church of Canada
United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada is a Protestant Christian denomination in Canada. It is the largest Protestant church and, after the Roman Catholic Church, the second-largest Christian church in Canada...

, United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination primarily in the Reformed tradition but also historically influenced by Lutheranism. The Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957 to form the UCC...

 and Reform Jewish
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 congregations, some Anglican dioceses, and various Neopagan faiths. This model is currently recognized by various jurisdictions and religious denomination
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

s.

Polygyny

Religious groups have differing views on the legitimacy of polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

, the practice of a man taking more than one wife. It is allowed in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, though in most areas today it is uncommon. Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 have allowed polygny in the past, but it is prohibited by their mainstream modern authorities.

Close-kin marriage

Religion has commonly weighed in on the matter of which relatives, if any, are allowed to marry. Relations may be by consanguinity
Consanguinity
Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

 or affinity
Affinity (law)
In law and in cultural anthropology, affinity, as distinguished from consanguinity, is kinship by marriage. It is the relation which each party to a marriage bears to the kindred of the other. In English, affinity is usually signified by adding "-in-law" to the degree of kinship...

, meaning by blood or by marriage. On the marriage of cousins, Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 policy has evolved from initial acceptance, through a long period of general prohibition, to the modern-day requirement for a dispensation. Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 has always allowed it, while Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 strictures vary widely.

Financial considerations

The financial aspects of marriage vary between cultures and have changed over time.

In some cultures, dowries and bride prices continue to be required today. In both cases, the financial arrangements are usually made between the groom (or his family) and the bride's family; with the bride in many cases not being involved in the arrangement, and often not having a choice in whether to participate in the marriage.

In Early Modern Britain
Early Modern Britain
Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain, roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the...

, the social status of the couple was supposed to be equal. After the marriage, all the property (called "fortune") and expected inheritances of the wife belonged to the husband.

Dowry

A dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

 was not an unconditional gift,[in Early Modern Britain?] but was usually a part of a wider marriage settlement. For example, if the groom had other children, they could not inherit the dowry, which had to go to the bride's children. In the event of her childlessness, the dowry had to be returned to her family, but sometimes not until the groom's death or remarriage.

In some cultures, dowries continue to be required today (for example, in Sudan), while some countries impose restrictions on the payment of dowry. In India, nearly 7,000 women were killed in 2001 over dowries, and activists believe that figures represent only a third of the actual number of such murders.

Bride price and dower

In other cultures, the groom or his family were expected to pay a bride price
Bride price
Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...

 to the bride's family for the right to marry the daughter, or dower
Dower
Dower or morning gift was a provision accorded by law to a wife for her support in the event that she should survive her husband...

, which was payable to the bride. This required the groom to work for the bride's family for a set period of time.

In the Jewish tradition, the rabbis in ancient times insisted on the marriage couple entering into a marriage contact, called a ketubah
Ketubah
A ketubah is a special type of Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride.-History:...

. Besides other things, the ketubah provided for an amount to be paid by the husband in the event of a divorce
Get (divorce document)
A is a divorce document, which according to Jewish Law, must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce. The essential text of the is quite short: "You are hereby permitted to all men," i.e., the wife is no longer a married woman, and the laws of adultery no longer apply...

 or his estate in the event of his death. This amount was a replacement of the biblical dower
Dower
Dower or morning gift was a provision accorded by law to a wife for her support in the event that she should survive her husband...

 or bride price
Bride price
Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...

, which was payable at the time of the marriage by the groom to the father of the bride. This innovation was put in place because the biblical bride price created a major social problem: many young prospective husbands could not raise the bride price at the time when they would normally be expected to marry. So, to enable these young men to marry, the rabbis, in effect, delayed the time that the amount would be payable, when they would be more likely to have the sum. It may also be noted that both the dower and the ketubah amounts served the same purpose: the protection for the wife should her support cease, either by death or divorce. The only difference between the two systems was the timing of the payment. It is the predecessor to the wife's present-day entitlement to maintenance
Alimony
Alimony is a U.S. term denoting a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce...

 in the event of the breakup of marriage, and family maintenance in the event of the husband not providing adequately for the wife in his will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

. Another function performed by the ketubah amount was to provide a disincentive for the husband contemplating divorcing his wife: he would need to have the amount to be able to pay to the wife.

Morning gifts, which might also be arranged by the bride's father rather than the bride, are given to the bride herself; the name derives from the Germanic tribal custom of giving them the morning after the wedding night. She might have control of this morning gift during the lifetime of her husband, but is entitled to it when widowed. If the amount of her inheritance is settled by law rather than agreement, it may be called dower
Dower
Dower or morning gift was a provision accorded by law to a wife for her support in the event that she should survive her husband...

. Depending on legal systems and the exact arrangement, she may not be entitled to dispose of it after her death, and may lose the property if she remarries. Morning gifts were preserved for many centuries in morganatic marriage
Morganatic marriage
In the context of European royalty, a morganatic marriage is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage...

, a union where the wife's inferior social status was held to prohibit her children from inheriting a noble's titles or estates. In this case, the morning gift would support the wife and children. Another legal provision for widowhood was jointure
Jointure
Jointure is, in law, a provision for a wife after the death of her husband. As defined by Sir Edward Coke, it is "a competent livelihood of freehold for the wife, of lands or tenements, to take effect presently in possession or profit after the death of her husband for the life of the wife at...

, in which property, often land, would be held in joint tenancy, so that it would automatically go to the widow on her husband's death.

Islamic tradition has similar practices. A 'mahr
Mahr
In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

', either immediate or deferred, is the woman's portion of the groom's wealth (divorce) or estate (death). These amounts are usually set on the basis of the groom's own and family wealth and incomes, but in some parts these are set very high so as to provide a disincentive for the groom exercising the divorce, or the husband's family 'inheriting' a large portion of the estate, especially if there are no male offspring from the marriage. In some countries, including Iran, the mahr
Mahr
In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

 or alimony can amount to more than a man can ever hope to earn, sometimes up to US$1,000,000 (4000 official Iranian gold coins). If the husband cannot pay the mahr
Mahr
In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

, either in case of a divorce or on demand, according to the current laws in Iran, he will have to pay it by installments. Failure to pay the mahr
Mahr
In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

 might even lead to imprisonment.

Modern customs

In many countries today, each marriage partner has the choice of keeping his or her property separate or combining properties. In the latter case, called community property
Community property
Community property is a marital property regime that originated in civil law jurisdictions and is now also found in some common law jurisdictions...

, when the marriage ends by divorce each owns half. In many legal jurisdictions, laws related to property and inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

 provide by default for property to pass upon the death of one party in a marriage firstly to the spouse and secondly to the children. Wills
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

 and trusts
Trust law
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another...

 can make alternative provisions for property succession.

In some legal systems, the partners in a marriage are "jointly liable" for the debts of the marriage. This has a basis in a traditional legal notion called the "Doctrine of Necessities" whereby a husband was responsible to provide necessary things for his wife. Where this is the case, one partner may be sued to collect a debt for which they did not expressly contract. Critics of this practice note that debt collection agencies can abuse this by claiming an unreasonably wide range of debts to be expenses of the marriage. The cost of defense and the burden of proof is then placed on the non-contracting party to prove that the expense is not a debt of the family. The respective maintenance obligations, both during and eventually after a marriage, are regulated in most jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s; alimony
Alimony
Alimony is a U.S. term denoting a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce...

 is one such method.

Some have attempted to analyze the institution of marriage using economic theory; for example, anarcho-capitalist economist David D. Friedman
David D. Friedman
David Director Friedman is an American economist, author, and Right-libertarian theorist. He is known as a leader in anarcho-capitalist political theory, which is the subject of his most popular book, The Machinery of Freedom...

 has written a lengthy and controversial study of marriage as a market transaction (the market for husbands and wives). In the past the economic status of women was enhanced through marriage; however, as more women work nowadays, men gain more economically than women.

Taxation

In some countries, spouses are allowed to average their incomes; this is advantageous to a married couple with disparate incomes. To compensate for this somewhat, many countries provide a higher tax bracket
Tax bracket
Tax brackets are the divisions at which tax rates change in a progressive tax system . Essentially, they are the cutoff values for taxable income — income past a certain point will be taxed at a higher rate.-Example:Imagine that there are three tax brackets: 10%, 20%, and 30%...

 for the averaged income of a married couple. While income averaging might still benefit a married couple with a stay-at-home spouse, such averaging would cause a married couple with roughly equal personal incomes to pay more total tax than they would as two single persons. This is commonly called the marriage penalty
Marriage penalty
The marriage penalty in the United States refers to the higher taxes required from some married couples, where spouses are making approximately the same taxable income, filing one tax return than for the same two people filing two separate tax returns if they were unmarried...

.

Moreover, when the rates applied by the tax code are not based on averaging the incomes, but rather on the sum of individuals' incomes, higher rates will definitely apply to each individual in a two-earner households in progressive tax systems. This is most often the case with high-income taxpayers and is another situation where some consider there to be a marriage penalty.

Conversely, when progressive tax is levied on the individual with no consideration for the partnership, dual-income couples fare much better than single-income couples with similar household incomes. The effect can be increased when the welfare system treats the same income as a shared income thereby denying welfare access to the non-earning spouse. Such systems apply in Australia and Canada, for example.

Other considerations

Sometimes people marry for purely pragmatic reasons, sometimes called a marriage of convenience
Marriage of convenience
A marriage of convenience is a marriage contracted for reasons other than the reasons of relationship, family, or love. Instead, such a marriage is orchestrated for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose, such as political marriage. The phrase is a calque of - a marriage of...

 or sham marriage. For example, according to one publisher of information about "green card" marriages, "Every year over 450,000 United States citizens marry foreign-born individuals and petition for them to obtain a permanent residency (Green Card) in the United States." While this is likely an over-estimate, in 2003 alone 184,741 immigrants were admitted to the U.S. as spouses of U.S. citizens
Citizenship in the United States
Citizenship in the United States is a status given to individuals that entails specific rights, duties, privileges, and benefits between the United States and the individual...

. Many more were admitted as fiancés of US citizens for the purpose of being married within 90 days. Regardless of the number of people entering the US to marry a US citizen, it does not indicate the number of these marriages that are convenience marriages, which number could include some of those with the motive of obtaining permanent residency, but also include many people who are US citizens. One example would be to obtain an inheritance that has a marriage clause. Another example would be to save money on health insurance or to enter a health plan with preexisting conditions offered by the new spouse's employer. Many other situations exist, and, in fact, all marriages have a complex combination of conveniences motivating the parties to marry. A marriage of convenience is one that is devoid of normal reasons to marry.

Some people want to marry a person with higher or lower status than them. Others want to marry people who have similar status. Hypergyny refers to the act of seeking out those who are of slightly higher social status. In most cases, hypergyny refers to women wanting men of higher status. Isogyny refers to the act of seeking out those who are of similar status.

Termination

In most societies, the death of one of the partners terminates the marriage, and in monogamous societies this allows the other partner to remarry, though sometimes after a waiting or mourning period.

Many societies also provide for the termination of marriage through divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

. Marriages can also be annulled
Annulment
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place...

 in some societies, where an authority declares that a marriage never happened. In either event the people concerned are free to remarry (or marry). After divorce, one spouse may have to pay alimony
Alimony
Alimony is a U.S. term denoting a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce...

.

The absolute right of two married partners to consent to divorce was only recognized in western nations in recent decades. In the United States no-fault divorce
No-fault divorce
No-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage requires neither a showing of wrong-doing of either party nor any evidentiary proceedings at all...

 was first recognized in California in 1969 and the final state to recognize it was New York in 1989.

Temporary marriages

Several cultures have practiced temporary and conditional marriages. Examples include the Celtic practice of handfasting
Handfasting
Handfasting is a traditional European ceremony of betrothal or wedding. It usually involved the tying or binding of the right hands of the bride and groom with a cord or ribbon for the duration of the wedding ceremony.-Etymology:...

 and fixed-term marriages in the Muslim community. Pre-Islamic Arabs practiced a form of temporary marriage that carries on today in the practice of Nikah Mut'ah, a fixed-term marriage contract. The prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 sanctioned a temporary marriage—sigheh in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and muta'a in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

— which can provide a legitimizing cover for sex workers. Muslim controversies related to Nikah Mut'ah have resulted in the practice being confined mostly to Shi'ite communities.

Post-marital residence

Early theories explaining the determinants of postmarital residence—with or near the husband's or wife's families, for example—(e.g., Lewis Henry Morgan, Edward Tylor, or George Peter Murdock) connected it with the sexual division of labor. However, to date, cross-cultural
Cross-cultural
cross-cultural may refer to*cross-cultural studies, a comparative tendency in various fields of cultural analysis*cross-cultural communication, a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate...

 tests of this hypothesis
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

 using worldwide samples have failed to find any significant relationship between these two variables. However, Korotayev's tests show that the female contribution to subsistence does correlate significantly with matrilocal residence in general; however, this correlation is masked by a general polygyny factor. Although an increase in the female contribution to subsistence tends to lead to matrilocal residence, it also tends simultaneously to lead to general non-sororal polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 which effectively destroys matrilocality
Matrilocality
In social anthropology, matrilocal residence or matrilocality is a term referring to the societal system in which a married couple resides with or near the wife's parents, thus the female offspring of a mother remain living in the mother's house, thereby forming large clan-families, typically...

. If this polygyny factor is controlled (e.g., through a multiple regression
Regression analysis
In statistics, regression analysis includes many techniques for modeling and analyzing several variables, when the focus is on the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables...

 model), division of labor turns out to be a significant predictor of postmarital residence. Thus, Murdock's hypotheses regarding the relationships between the sexual division of labor and postmarital residence were basically correct, though, as has been shown by Korotayev
Andrey Korotayev
Andrey Korotayev is an anthropologist, economic historian, and sociologist, with major contributions to world-systems theory, cross-cultural studies, Near Eastern history, and mathematical modeling of social and economic macrodynamics.Education and career=Born in Moscow, Andrey Korotayev attended...

, the actual relationships between those two groups of variables are more complicated than he expected.

In modern societies we observe a trend toward the neolocal residence.

Criticisms

Many people have proposed arguments against marriage for various reasons. These include political and religious criticisms, reference to the divorce rate, as well as celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 for religious or philosophical reasons.

Controversial views

Many controversies have arisen over the centuries in relation to marriage – including issues relating to the suitability of partners of different denominations, faiths, tribes or races, the acceptable number and minimum age of wives, the rights of partners, especially wives, and wider family obligations. For example, a contemporary controversy of particular significance in the USA concerns the exclusion of homosexual relationships from legal and social recognition and the rights and obligations it provides. Social conservatives
Social conservatism
Social Conservatism is primarily a political, and usually morally influenced, ideology that focuses on the preservation of what are seen as traditional values. Social conservatism is a form of authoritarianism often associated with the position that the federal government should have a greater role...

 opposed to same-sex marriage in some countries claim that any attempt to define marriage to include anything other than the union of one man and one woman would "deprive the term of its fundamental and defining meaning." In other countries, polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 is a "socially conservative" practice. Advocates of same-faith marriage and same-race marriage may criticize the legalization of interfaith marriage and interracial marriage
Interracial marriage
Interracial marriage occurs when two people of differing racial groups marry. This is a form of exogamy and can be seen in the broader context of miscegenation .-Legality of interracial marriage:In the Western world certain jurisdictions have had regulations...

, respectively.

The state of Massachusetts has sued the U.S. federal government over its definition of marriage. The lawsuit, brought by the first state to legalize gay marriage, said the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) infringed on a state's sovereign right to define marital status. The lawsuit alleges that DOMA infringed on a state's sovereign right to define marital status and is unconstitutional.

Power and gender roles

Feminist theory
Feminist theory
Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical discourse, it aims to understand the nature of gender inequality...

 approaches opposite-sex marriage as an institution traditionally rooted in patriarchy
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

 that promotes male superiority and power over women. This power dynamic conceptualizes men as "the provider operating in the public sphere" and women as "the caregivers operating within the private sphere". "Theoretically, women ... [were] defined as the property of their husbands .... The adultery of a woman was always treated with more severity than that of a man." "[F]eminist demands for a wife's control over her own proerty were not met [in parts of Britain] until ... [laws were passed in the late 19th century]." This patriarchal dynamic is contrasted with a conception of egalitarian marriage in which power and labour are divided equally, and not according to gender role
Gender role
Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture, which differ widely between cultures and over time...

s.

The performance of dominant gender roles by men and submissive gender roles by women influence the power dynamic of a marriage. In some American households, women internalize gender role stereotypes and often assimilate into the role of "wife", "mother", and "caretaker" in conformity to societal norms and their male partner. bell hooks
Bell hooks
Gloria Jean Watkins , better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist....

 states "within the family structure, individuals learn to accept sexist oppression as 'natural' and are primed to support other forms of oppression, including heterosexist domination." "[T]he cultural, economic, political and legal supremacy of the husband" was "[t]raditional ... under English law".

In the US, studies have shown that, despite egalitarian ideals being common, less than half of respondents viewed their opposite-sex relationships as equal in power, with unequal relationships being more commonly dominated by the male partner. Studies also show that married couples find the highest level of satisfaction in egalitarian relationships.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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