Thursday, September 13, 2007

Marriage remains relevant as the union that socially sanctions a sexual relationship. In the law of England and Wales, children whose parents were not married to each other at the time of the birth were known as bastards. They were considered illegitimate, meaning they usually could not inherit wealth or title. This has also applied to children who were born inside a marriage which was then annulled; the two daughters of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I, were declared illegitimate after their father annulled the marriages that they had been born into.
In Catholicism, the Council of Trent made the validity of marriage dependent upon its being performed before a priest and two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, 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 United Kingdom, the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act 1907 was a statute passed by Parliament that removed the prohibition forbidding a man to marry the sister of his deceased wife.

In Britain
European culture and the cultures of the Americas, so far as they descend from it, have for the most part defined themselves as monogamous cultures. This partially stemmed from Christianity, Germanic cultural traditions and the mandate of Roman Law. However, Roman Law permitted prostitution, concubinage, and sexual access to slaves. The Christian West formally banned these practices with laws against adultery, fornication, and other relationships outside a monogamous, lifelong covenant.

European monogamy
The participants in a marriage usually seek social recognition for their relationship, and many societies require official approval of a religious or civil body.
In the early modern era, John Calvin (1509 – 1564) and his Protestant colleagues reformulated Christian marriage through enactment of The Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, imposing, "The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage."
In England and Wales, it was Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753 that first required formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage.
In many jurisdictions, the civil marriage ceremony may take place during the religious marriage ceremony, although they are theoretically distinct. In most American states, the marriage may be officiated by a priest, minister, rabbi or other religious authority, and in such a case the religious authority acts simultaneously as an agent of the state. In some countries, such as France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Argentina and Russia, it is necessary to be married by the state separate from (usually before) any religious ceremony, with the state ceremony being the legally binding one. Some states allow civil marriages in circumstances which are not allowed by many religions, such as same-sex marriages or civil unions.
Marriage may also be created by the operation of the law alone, as in common-law marriage, sometimes called "marriage by habit and repute." This is a judicial recognition that two people who have been living as domestic partners are entitled to the effects of marriage. However, in the UK at least, common-law marriage has been abolished and there are no rights available unless a couple marry or enter a civil partnership. Conversely, there are examples of people who have a religious ceremony that is not recognized by the civil authorities. Examples include widows who stand to lose a pension if they remarry legally, same-sex couples (where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized), some sects which recognize polygamy, retired couples who would lose pension benefits if legally married, Muslim men who wish to engage in polygamy that is condoned in some situations under Islam, and immigrants who do not wish to alert the immigration authorities that they are married either to a spouse they are leaving behind or because the complexity of immigration laws may make it difficult for spouses to visit on a tourist visa.
In Europe, it has traditionally been the churches' office to make marriages official by registering them. Hence, it was a significant step towards a clear separation of church and state and also an intended and sufficient weakening of the Christian churches' role in Germany, when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduced the Zivilehe (civil marriage) in 1875. This law made the declaration of the marriage before an official clerk of the civil administration (both spouses affirming their will to marry) the procedure to make a marriage legally valid and effective, and reduced the clerical marriage to an optional private ceremony.

Marriage sometimes establishes the legal father of a woman's child; establishes the legal mother of a man's child; gives the husband or his family control over the wife's sexual services, labor, and/or property; gives the wife or her family control over the husband's sexual services, labor, and/or property; establishes a joint fund of property for the benefit of children; or establishes a relationship between the families of the husband and wife. No society ascribes all of these rights to marriage, and none are universal (see Edmund Leach's article in "Marriage, Family, and Residence," edited by Paul Bohannan and John Middleton).
Marriage is not a prerequisite for having children. In the U.S., the National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 1992, 30.1 percent of births were to unmarried women.
Conversely, a marriage is commonly held to require a sexual relationship, and non-consummation (that is, failure to engage in sex) may be held grounds for an annulment (e.g., John Ruskin's abortive marriage).
See also: Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States

Rights and obligations

Main article: Polygamy Polygamy
In 2004, the American Anthropological Association released this statement:
Cultures that practice slavery might admit that slave marriages form, but grant them no legal status. This was the practice under the Roman empire, so that in the Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas, the freewoman Perpetua could be described as "a married matron" but Felicitas as the "fellow-servant" of Revocatus — even though the Christians regarded, religiously, such marriages as binding. Likewise, slave marriages in the United States were not binding, so that many contrabands escaping slavery during the American Civil War sought official status for their marriages. Among the rights distinguishing serfdom from slavery was the right to enter a legally recognizable marriage.

Marriage restrictions

Main article: WeddingMarriage rates Weddings

Main article: Religious aspects of marriage Marriage and religion
Marriage is an institution which can join together people's lives in emotional and economic ways. Marriage can also lead to the formation of a new household, but among some people (e.g. the Minangkabau of West Sumatra), residency after marriage is matrilocal, with the husband moving into the pre-existing household of his wife's mother.

Marriage and cohabitation

Marriage and economics
The economics of marriage have changed over time. Historically, in many cultures the family of the bride had to provide a dowry to pay a man for marrying their daughter. In Early Modern Britain, the social status of the couple was supposed to be equal. After the marriage, the entire property (called "fortune") and expected inheritances of the wife belonged only to her husband (a frequent subject in Early Modern British literature); she was often called "his property", which did then include the protection a single woman did not have. In other cultures, the family of the groom had to pay a bride price to the bride's family for the right to marry the daughter. In some cultures, dowries and bride prices are still demanded today. In both cases, the financial transaction takes place between the groom (or his family) and the bride's family; the bride has no part in the transaction and often no choice in whether to participate in the marriage.
In some cultures, dowries were not unconditional gifts. 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 return to her family, and sometimes not until the groom's death or remarriage. Often the bride was entitled to inherit at least as much as her dowry from her husband's estate.
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. 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, 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, 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.

Historical traditions
In many modern legal systems, two people who marry have the choice between keeping their property separate or combining their property. In the latter case, called community property, when the marriage ends by divorce each owns half; if one partner dies the surviving partner owns half and inheritance rules apply to the other half.

Modern conventions
In most countries, the tax-rate structure is progressive, that is, a higher income pays a higher rate of tax. In such a context, income averaging is advantageous to the taxpayer. Married couples normally combine their income which, when the spouses' monetary incomes are disparate, affords them the advantage of this income averaging. To compensate for this somewhat, many countries with progressive taxes enact higher tax rates on that averaged income (married couples in such jurisdictions pay more than twice the tax of a single person making half of the income). Couples with disparate incomes (which is the case for a stay-at-home spouse married to a "breadwinner") will gain a tax advantage from income averaging. However, married couples having roughly equal personal incomes gain nothing from such income averaging yet remain subject to the higher tax bracket (for married filing jointly) and thus pay more total tax than they would as two single persons. This is commonly called the marriage penalty in the tax laws.
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 for 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.
In some cultures, women are expected to marry a spouse who is more economically, socially, or politically powerful. Known as hypergyny, this practice is common in India.


Main article: Arranged marriage Arranged marriage

Main articles: Same-sex marriage and Same-sex union Same-sex marriage
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. In English speaking countries, the spouse who outlives the other is referred to as a widow (female) or widower (male). Many societies also provide for the termination of marriage through divorce. Marriages can also be annulled in some societies, a process distinct from divorce in that it that declares a marriage to have been invalid from its beginning.
Several cultures have practiced temporary and conditional marriages. Examples include the Celtic practice of handfasting 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. Muslim controversies related to Nikah Mut'ah have resulted in the practice being confined mostly to Shi'ite communities.


Main article: Criticisms of the institution of marriage Criticisms of the institution of marriage

See also

Main article: Types of marriages Lists and statistics

Adultery - consensual sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse.
Alimony - obligation of support.
Annulment - legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void.
Betrothal - formal state of engagement to be married.
Covenant marriage
Divorce - ending of a marriage.
Free love - a social movement opposed to marriage
Frequency of sexual activity
"Head and Master" laws
Husband / Wife
Separation - ending of a marriage.
Marriage (conflict)
Marriage gap
Marriage strike - Increasing ambivalence toward marriage in American men.
Marriageable age
Mail-order bride
Monogamy / Polygamy
Nikah urfi
Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
Wedding ring
Living Apart Together