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Marriage is a Social Union or Legal Contract Between Individuals That Creates Kinship

Marriage is a Social Union or Legal Contract Between Individuals That Creates Kinship

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Published by: angeloalebin on Aug 16, 2010
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is a social union or legal contract between individualsthat createskinship. It is aninstitutionin which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in avariety of ways, depending on thecultureor subculture in which itis found. Such a union may also be called
, while theceremony that marks its beginning is usually called a
.People marry for many reasons, including one or more of thefollowing: legal, social, emotional, economical, spiritual, andreligious. These might include arranged marriages, familyobligations, the legal establishment of a nuclear family unit, thelegal protection of children and public declaration of commitment.
 Marriage practicesare very diverse across cultures, may takemany forms, and are often formalized by a wedding.
The act of marriage usually createsnormativeor legal obligations betweenthe individuals involved. In some societies these obligations alsoextend to certain family members of the married persons. Almostall cultures that recognize marriage also recognizeadulteryas aviolation of the terms of marriage.
 Marriage is usually recognized by thestate, a religious authority,or both. It is often viewed as acontract. Civil marriage is the legalconcept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance withmarriage lawsof the jurisdiction. If recognized by the state, by the religion(s) to whichthe parties belong or by society in general, the act of marriagechanges the personal and social status of the individuals whoenter into it.
Marriage isthe union of two differentsurnames, infriendshipand in love,in order tocontinue theposterity of the formersages, and tofurnish thosewho shallpreside atthe sacrificesto heavenand earth, atthose in theancestraltemple, andat those atthe altars tothe spirits of the land andgrain.
 Anthropologists have proposed several competing definitions of marriage so as to encompass the wide variety of marital practicesobserved across cultures.
In his book
e History of HumanMarriage
(1921),Edvard Westermarckdefined marriage as "amore or less durable connection between male and female lastingbeyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of theoffspring."
e Future of Marriage in Western Civilization
 (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionallydefining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one ormore women that is recognised by custom or law".
 The anthropological handbook
Notes and Queries
(1951) definedmarriage as "a union between a man and a woman such thatchildren born to the woman are the recognized legitimateoffspring of both partners."
In recognition of a practice by theNuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certaincircumstances,Kathleen Goughsuggested modifying this to "awoman and one or more other persons."
 Edmund Leachcriticized Gough's definition for being toorestrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring andsuggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different typesof rights it serves to establish. Leach expanded the definition andproposed that "Marriage is a relationship established between awoman and one or more other persons, which provides that achild born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited bythe rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rightscommon to normal members of his society or social stratum"
 Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to allcultures. 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 also criticized the legitimacy-based definition on thebasis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy,arguing that in societies where illegitimacy means only that themother is unmarried and has no other legal implications, alegitimacy-based definition of marriage is circular. He proposeddefining marriage in terms of sexual access rights.
The modern English word "marriage" derives fromMiddle English 
, which first appears in 12501300 C.E. This in turn isderived fromOld French 
(to marry) and ultimatelyLatin 
(to marry) and
(of marriage).
A Wedding RingAlthough the institution of marriage pre-dates reliablerecordedhistory
, many cultures have legends concerning the origins of marriage. The way in which a marriage is conducted and its rulesand ramifications has changed over time, as has the institutionitself, depending on the culture or demographic of the time.
 One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discernedfromHammurabi's Code, enacted in ancientMesopotamia(widely considered as thecradle of civilization). Various cultures have hadtheir own theories on the origin of marriage. One example may liein a man's need for assurance as to paternity of his children. Hemight therefore be willing to pay a bride price or provide for awoman in exchange for exclusive sexual access.
Legitimacy isthe consequence of this transaction rather than its motivation. InComanchesociety, married women work harder, lose sexualfreedom, 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. "Inalmost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in someway so as to moderate the intensity of this competition."
 InEnglish common law, a marriage was a voluntarycontractby a man and a woman, in which by agreement they choose tobecome husband and wife.
Edvard Westermarck proposed that"the institution of marriage has probably developed out of aprimeval habit".
 Forms of group marriagewhich involve more than one member of each sex, and therefore are not eitherpolygynyorpolyandry, have existed in history. However, these forms of marriage areextremely rare. Of the 250 societies reported by the Americananthropologist George P. Murdock in 1949, only theCaingangof Brazil had any group marriages at all.
ropean marriages
For most of European history, marriage was more or less abusiness agreement between two families who arranged themarriages of their children. Romantic love, and even simpleaffection, were not considered essential.
Historically, theperceived necessity of marriage has been stressed.
 InAncient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for thecreation of a marriage - only mutual agreement and the fact thatthe couple must regard each other as husband and wifeaccordingly.
Men usually married when they were in their 20sor 30s
and expected their wives to be in their early teens. Ithas been suggested that these ages made sense for the Greekbecause men were generally done with military service by age 30,and marrying a young girl ensured her virginity.
Married Greekwomen had few rights in ancient Greek society and wereexpected to take care of the house and children.
Time was animportant factor in Greek marriage. For example, there weresuperstitions that being married during afull moonwas good luckand, according toRobert Flacelière
, Greeks married in thewinter.
Inheritance was more important than feelings: Awoman whose father dies without male heirs can be forced tomarry her nearest male relativeeven if she has to divorce herhusband first.
 There were several types of marriages in ancient Roman society.The traditional ("conventional") form called
onventio in manum
 required a ceremony with witnesses and was also dissolved with aceremony.
In this type of marriage, a woman lost her familyrights of inheritance of her old family and gained them with hernew one. She now was subject to the authority of her husband.
 There was the free marriage known as
sine manu
. In thisarrangement, the wife remained a member of her original family;she stayed under the authority of her father, kept her familyrights of inheritance with her old family and did not gain any withthe new family.
The minimum age of marriage for girls was12.
 A woodcut of a medieval wedlock ceremony from Germany.From theearly Christianera (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thoughtof as primarily a private matter,
itation needed 
with no uniformreligious or other ceremony being required. However, bishopIgnatius of Antiochwriting around 110 to bishopPolycarpof  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 ownlust."
 In the 12th century women were obligated to take the name of their husbands and starting in the second half of the 16th centuryparental consent along with the church's consent was required formarriage .
 With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages inEurope were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marryand upon the subsequent physical union of the parties.
Thecouple would promise verbally to each other that they would bemarried to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses wasnot required.
This promise was known as the "verbum." If freely given and made in the present tense (e.g., "I marry you"), itwas unquestionably binding;
if made in the future tense ("I willmarry you"), it would constitute abetrothal. One of the functionsof churches from theMiddle Ageswas to register marriages,which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement inmarriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicatedinecclesiastical courts. During the Middle Ages marriages werearranged, sometimes as early as birth, and these early pledges tomarry were often used to ensure treaties between different royalfamilies, nobles, and heirs of fiefdoms. The church resisted theseimposed unions, and increased the number of causes fornullification of these arrangements.
As Christianity spreadduring the roman period and the Middle Ages, the idea of freechoice in selecting marriage partners increased and spread withit.
 The average age of marriage in the late 1200s into the 1500s wasaround 25 years of age.
 As part of theProtestant Reformation, the role of recordingmarriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state,reflectingMartin Luther's view that marriage was a "worldlything".
By the 1600s many of theProtestantEuropeancountries had a state involvement in marriage. As of 2000, theaverage marriage age range was 2544 years for men and 2239years for women. In England, under the Anglican Church, marriageby consent and cohabitation was valid until the passage of LordHardwicke's Actin 1753. This act instituted certain requirementsfor marriage, including the performance of a religious ceremonyobserved by witnesses.
 As part of theCounter-Reformation, in 1563 theCouncil of Trent  decreed that aRoman Catholicmarriage would be recognizedonly if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with twowitnesses. The Council also authorized aCatechism
, issued in1566, which defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man andwoman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obligesthem to live together throughout life."
ecognition by the state
In theearly modern period
,John Calvinand hisProtestant  colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting theMarriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed "The dualrequirements of state registration and church consecration toconstitute marriage"
for recognition.In England andWales
, Lord Hardwicke'sMarriage Act 1753 required a formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing thepractice of Fleet Marriage.
These were clandestine or irregularmarriages performed at Fleet Prison, and at hundreds of otherplaces. From the 1690s until the Marriage Act of 1753 as many as300,000 clandestine marriages were performed at Fleet Prisonalone.
The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiatedby an Anglican priest in theAnglican Churchwith two witnessesand registration. The Act did not apply to Jewish marriages orthose of Quakers, whose marriages continued to be governed bytheir own customs.In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have beenrecognized as a legal alternative to church marriages under theMarriage Act of 1836. In Germany, civil marriages wererecognized in 1875. This law permitted a declaration of themarriage before an official clerk of the civil administration, whenboth spouses affirm their will to marry, to constitute a legallyrecognized valid and effective marriage, and allowed an optionalprivate clerical marriage ceremony.
Chinese marriage
Main article:Chinese marriage The mythological origin of Chinese marriage is a story aboutNüwa andFu Xiwho invented proper marriage procedures afterbecoming married.In ancient Chinese society, people of the same surname were notsupposed 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 toanother. Over time, Chinese people became more geographicallymobile. Individuals remained members of their biological families.When a couple died, the husband and the wife were buriedseparately in the respective clans graveyard. In a maternalmarriage, a male would become a son-in-law who lived in thewife's home.
Same-sex marriage
Main article:Same-sex marriage Various types of same-sex marriages have existed,
ranging frominformal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions.
 While it is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples arebeing granted the same form of legal marital recognition ascommonly used by mixed-sex couples, recent publicity and debateover the past decade gives an impression that civil marriage forlesbian and gay couples is novel and untested. There is a longhistory of recorded same-sex unions around the world.
It isbelieved that same-sex unions were celebrated in Ancient Greeceand Rome,
some regions of China, such asFujian
, and at certaintimes in ancient European history.
A law in theTheodosianCode(
9.7.3) issued in 342 CE imposed severe penalties ordeath on same-sex marriage in ancient Rome
but the exactintent of the law and its relation to social practice is unclear, asonly a few examples of same-sex marriage in that culture exist.
Selection of a partner

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