ETYM Old Eng. mariage, French mariage. Related to Marry.
1. State of being husband and wife; SYN. matrimony, union, wedlock.
2. The act of marrying; the nuptial ceremony; SYN. wedding, marriage ceremony.
3. A close and intimate union.
Legally or culturally sanctioned union of one man and one woman (monogamy); one man and two or more women (polygamy); one woman and two or more men (polyandry). The basis of marriage varies considerably in different societies (romantic love in the West; arranged marriages in some other societies), but most marriage ceremonies, contracts, or customs involve a set of rights and duties, such as care and protection, and there is generally an expectation that children will be born of the union to continue the family line and maintain the family property.
In the 1990s the concept of marriage was extended in some countries to include the blessing or registration of homosexual relationships.
In different cultures and communities there are various conventions and laws that limit the choice of a marriage partner. Restrictive factors include: age limits, below which no marriage is valid; degrees of consanguinity or other special relationships within which marriage is either forbidden or enjoined; economic factors such as ability to pay a dowry; rank, caste, or religious differences or expectations; medical requirements, such as the blood tests of some us states; the necessity of obtaining parental, family, or community consent; the negotiations of a marriage broker in some cultures, as in Japan or formerly among Jewish communities; color— for example, marriage was illegal until 1985 between “European” and “non-European” people in South Africa, until 1967 between white and black people in some southern us states, and between white and Asian people in some western us states.
In Western cultures, social trends have led to increased legal equality for women within marriage: in England married women were not allowed to hold property in their own name until 1882; in California community property laws entail the equal division of all assets between the partners on divorce. Other legal changes have made divorce easier, notably in the us and increasingly in the uk, so that remarriage is more and more frequent for both sexes within the lifetime of the original partner.
In most European countries and in the us civil registration of marriage, as well as (or instead of) a religious ceremony, is obligatory. Common-law marriages (that is, cohabitation as man and wife without a legal ceremony) are recognized (for inheritance purposes) in, for example, Scotland and some states of the us. As a step to international agreement on marriage law, the United Nations in 1962 adopted a convention on consent to marriage, minimum age for marriage, and registration.
Zakonska zajednica muža i žene.