Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.
The definition of marriage varies around the world, not only amongst cultures and amongst religions, but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion.
Over time, it has expanded and also constricted who and what is encompassed. Typically, it is 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.
Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes. Whom they marry may be influenced by gender, socially determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire.
In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage, polygamy, and sometimes forced marriage, may be practiced as a cultural tradition. Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns regarding the infringement of women’s rights, or the infringement of children’s rights (both female and male), and because of international law.
Around the world, primarily in developed democracies, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights for women within marriage and legally recognizing the marriages of interfaith , interracial , and same-sex couples. These trends coincide with the broader human rights movement. (Source: Wikipedia)
Many people get married with the aim of producing children. The Pew Research Center survey suggests that having and raising children may be a motivator for people to make a lifelong commitment.
According to the survey, 41% of respondents listed having children as a main reason they chose to marry. The Future of Children Report ♂ from Princeton University suggests that children born in household where the parents are married get many benefits from the marriage, including the following:
- More time with parents
- Higher income for the household
- More access to health insurance
- More stable home environment
- Better parental supervision
Of course, these benefits only apply when children are born into a healthy, stable family environment. Being married does not guarantee that children will benefit from the parents’ relationship. (Source: LoveToKnow.com)
When a marriage produces a child or receives a child through adoption, it is one of life’s greatest blessings. Roughly 40% of children being raised today are in a home without a father. The effects of that fact are staggering.
Father absence causes increases in mental and behavioral disorders as well as criminal activity and substance abuse. But when children are raised in a healthy marriage, they get a front row seat to see and experience the lasting benefits of a strong family.
According to surveys that Relationships Australia has conducted over a number of years, people choose to get married:
- for love
- for companionship
- to signify a life-long commitment
- for provision of security for children
- to make a public commitment to each other
- for legal status and financial security
- for religious beliefs.
Others avoid marriage for reasons including:
- a previous bad experience
- wanting to avoid a commitment
- the belief that strong commitment does not need marriage
- fear of making a mistake
- enjoying the single lifestyle
- fear of divorce and what goes with it.