Marriage (also called matrimony or
wedlock) is a socially or ritually
recognized union or legal contract
between spouses that establishes
rights and obligations between them,
between them and their children, and
between them and their in-laws. The
definition of marriage varies according
to different cultures, but it is
principally an institution in which
interpersonal relationships, usually
intimate and sexual, are
acknowledged. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or
compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A broad definition of marriage includes those that are monogamous, polygamous, same-sex and temporary.
People marry for many reasons, including: legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious. Who they marry may be influenced by socially determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire. In many parts of the world, marriages are arranged. Forced marriages are illegal in some jurisdictions.
Marriage can be recognized by a state, an organization, a religious authority, a tribal group, a local community or peers. It is often viewed as a contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction. Marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting via a wedding ceremony. The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved, and any offspring they may produce. In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples or two or more persons of opposite gender in the gender binary, and a
diminishing number of these permit polygyny, child marriages, and forced marriages. Over the twentieth century, a growing number of countries and other...
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