Marriage is a contract by which two people (usually a man and a woman) agree to cohabit together as a couple for an extended period of time or for the rest of their lives with the goal of having children together and starting a family.
It can be done by signing a contract before a civil authority (civil marriage) or in a formal ceremony officiated by a religious authority.
The most common form of marriage is a legally binding heterosexual union. Some societies recognize polygamy, which includes polygyny and polyandry. In polygyny, a man may be married to many women; in polyandry a woman may be married to many men. In Senegal, for example, nearly 47 percent of marriages are multiple. A temporary marriage is called a wedlease.
The most common age to get married is between 25 to 30 years old. In the Western world, marriage for love is common. In some other places, relatives may plan an arranged marriage. Romani people tend to marry younger.
There are many reasons why people marry, but they usually include one or more of the following:
- They want to have a family that is legally recognised.
- They want to have children and be able to pass on property or money to their children with fewer problems
- They want to officially declare their love for the other.
- They want to get a certain citizenship of a state or country.
- They want to avail of the many legal and financial benefits of marriage like social security, joint taxes, and health insurances.
- There may be a few cases in which the goal is to pass on culture and heritage, or to ensure inheritance of assets.
Rights and obligations change
Marriage usually leads to rights and obligations to those married, these may include:
- The right to visit the spouse in hospital, or in prison
- The right to make decisions for the spouse, when the spouse is unable to do so.
- The spouses are both responsible for all the debts and obligations of the couple.
Often there is also a spiritual part of marriage. In addition to the civil act (wanted by the state) there is sometimes a religious one. A Christian marriage ceremony usually happens in a church. In a Christian marriage, both partners promise to love each other for the rest of their lives. There are certain restrictions on who can marry or be married; those closely related, like brothers and sisters usually cannot marry. This is usually to prevent genetic problems for the children. Those marrying also have to be of a certain age to be able to marry. If that age is not specified it is usually the age of consent. In Hinduism marriage is considered to be holy and is seen as a union of the goddess "Laxmi" and the god "Narayan".
Same-sex marriage change
Some countries and religious communities also permit the union of two partners of the same sex. This is generally known as same-sex marriage. In the Netherlands, the marriage law was changed to allow such unions, called Marriage. Other countries that allow them sometimes have a different name for them.
Related pages change
- Diouf, Nafi (May 2, 2004). "Polygamy hangs on in Africa". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Paul Rampell (August 4, 2013). "A High Divorce Rate Means It's Time to Try 'Wedleases'". Opinion. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
- Parker, Tim. "Why Marriage Makes Financial Sense". Investopedia. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
- Burgerlijk wetboek Artikel 30 (in Dutch)