Written by on August 26, 2017

More Than Two Glossary Term: Marriage

A relationship, most commonly between one man and one woman in Western countries, which is sanctioned by the State and/or by a religious institution and which confers upon its members certain social and economic conditions, typically including rights of joint property ownership, rights of inheritance and of decision-making in legal and medical matters, and certain legal rights and responsibilities concerning mutual child rearing. These rights and responsibilities have varied over time and today vary from place to place, but common to all of them is the expectation that people who are married are in a legally recognized, financially entwined, committed relationship that is not trivial to separate. Traditionally, marriages in most Western countries carry with them expectations of sexual and emotional monogamy.

See related closed marriage, open marriage, group marriage, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry.

Commentary: Increasingly, Western countries are being forced to grapple with the issue of same-sex partnerships being officially recognized as marriages, both because gays and lesbians want the social status conferred by marriage and because gays and lesbians want the legal rights so conferred, particularly with regard to economic matters such as inheritance and joint property ownership, practical matters such as insurance and the right to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner, and so on. Many people also feel that these legal rights and responsibilities do not have to be limited to exactly two people and that partnerships involving more than two people are entitled to equal treatment under the law as well.

Merriam Webster Dictionary Definition


noun mar·riage \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\

Definition of marriage

  1. a: the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law

    b:  the mutual relation of married persons:  wedlock

    c:  the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage

  2. an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially:  the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities

  3. an intimate or close union the marriage of painting and poetry — J. T. Shawcross

Merriam Webster Thesaurus

Synonyms and Antonyms of marriage

  1. a union representing a special kind of social and legal partnership between two people some religions consider marriage a sacrament

    Synonyms conjugality, connubiality, match, matrimony, wedlock

    Related Words monogamy; bigamy, polyandry, polygamy, polygyny; intermarriage, miscegenation, mixed marriage, remarriage; cohabitation, common-law marriage; civil union, domestic partnership; attachment, commitment, relationship; betrothal, engagement, espousal, hand, pledge, promise, proposal, troth

    Near Antonyms annulment, divorce, separation

  2. a ceremony in which two people are united in matrimony just a small group of family and friends have been invited to witness the marriage

    Synonyms bridal, espousal, wedding, nuptial(s)

    Related Words match, matrimony, wedlock; union

Wiktionary Definition

Wikipedia Term: Marriage

Wikipedia Entry

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognised union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity (in-laws and other family through marriage). The definition of marriage varies not only between cultures or religions, but also within them throughout their histories, evolving to both expand or contract in what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.

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