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Definition of Marriage - Types Of Marriage

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To this point, the institution of marriage has been discussed as if all marriages were the same—a living arrangement legally contracted by or for two people of the opposite sex. However, this description has been limited insofar as it describes monogamous marriage. There are other types of marriage, which include more than one husband or wife at the same time (plural marriage or polygamy), several husbands and wives (group marriage), or ones that are not contracted on the basis of the state's rules and regulations specified earlier (common-law marriage).

Monogamy is the only legal type of marriage permitted in the United States. It is illegal to have more than one spouse at a time (bigamy), and most citizens comply with this rule. There are a few exceptions, however. In some western states, members of some fundamentalist Mormon groups practiced polygamy until the late nineteenth century (Hardy 1992). While those who practice group marriage and those in homosexual unions may wish to call themselves married and hold rites or ceremonies to make a public statement that they are married, the states do not recognize such unions. In Vermont, however, homosexual couples can apply for a "civil union," through which they receive nearly all of the legal benefits and protections given to married heterosexual couples.

While having more than one spouse is illegal in the United States, polygyny (one husband with two or more wives at the same time) is the preferred form of marriage throughout most of the world. Seventy-five percent of the world's societies prefer this type of marriage (Saxton 1993). Preference, however, does not necessarily translate into practice, because the number of men and women of marriageable age in most cultures is about the same, meaning that there are rarely more than a few extra women available as second or third wives. Thus, even when polygyny is preferred, there are only a few men, mostly wealthy ones, who have more than one wife at a time (Broude 1994).

Very few societies have polyandrous marriages. Polyandry refers to one wife having several husbands at the same time. Such marriages occur only in a few cultures—probably no more than a dozen—and often take the form of fraternal polyandry, that is, when the husbands are brothers. The cause of such an arrangement is unclear but may be related to the need to keep scarce resources such as small parcels of land inherited by the brothers under the control of a single household.

Group marriage (when men and women living together consider themselves married to each other) is illegal, but there are examples of it throughout the history of the United States and in other societies as well. However, in no society is this type of marriage the primary form of marriage. It was practiced by members of the Oneida Company in the mid-1800s in Vermont and then in New York when the group was forced to move because of community disapproval. A study of more than 100 group marriages in the early 1970s showed that such arrangements do not last long: only 7 percent of the "multilateral marriages" studied lasted longer than five years (Constantine and Constantine 1973). Most of these groups consisted of two couples who lived together, sharing economic resources, services, and child care as well as sexual access. Communication and personality conflicts were the primary reasons for dissolving the group, and bonds between same-sex members of the group were the primary factor responsible for success.

In the United States, common-law marriage is recognized in fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These states are Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. If a heterosexual couple who are of legal age and legally competent to marry (e.g., they are not already married) make an agreement to live together as husband and wife and actually do cohabit, they are legally married. A ceremony is not necessary, nor is compliance with the other formal requirements governing marriage in their state (Knox and Schacht 1991). This practice stems from the tradition that marriage contracted between two adults was their own or their family's business. Historically in continental Europe and England (societies that are the source of much of U.S. law and custom), marriage needed neither civil nor religious sanction. However, the Catholic Church became more powerful during the Middle Ages and assumed control over marriage (Goody 1988). Even though private arrangements continued, these marriages were not recognized as valid by the church (Saxton 1993). In the United States, marriage became regulated by civil laws in the nineteenth century, but some "states took the position that private marriages were valid so long as they were not expressly forbidden by statute. Such unions were called common law" (Saxton 1993, p. 198). In all societies, a marriage is generally not recognized as such unless the couple is deemed married by the community. However, once a marriage is recognized by one state, it must be recognized by all other states (e.g., a common-law marriage officially recognized by Texas must be recognized in Oregon even though Oregon does not officially sanction common-law marriages).

Finally, some social groups have attempted to organize themselves and function without marriage. These include communes, religious orders, and special social or occupational categories such as warrior castes. In the United States, the best known of such groups are the Shakers, a religious community among whose central rules are celibacy and communal living without marriage. Although the group has lasted since the late 1700s, its numbers have now dwindled from a high of about 4,000 in some sixty communities in the mid-1800s to fewer than a dozen members in one community in 1991 (Foster 1991). Similarly, many communes founded in the 1960s either folded or instituted monogamous marriage. The two types of social groups that have survived without marriage are religious orders and caste or castelike groups such as the Hijras in India. However, all of these groups are institutionalized within a larger society and are able to attract new members from that society.


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over 3 years ago

it was useful.thank you...

good luck

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over 5 years ago

I HAVE LIVED AND LEARNED LIFE IS SO UNEXPECTED YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE DAY WILL BRING I KNOW BEING MARRIED BRINGS ON A LOT OF ENVY,I HOPE ONE DAY ALL PEOPLE CAN BE TREATED FAIR REGARLESS TO THEIR MARITAL STATUS I AM NOW MORE MATURE AND ITS TIME FOR ME TO GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL AND THATS OVER COMING THE ENVY WE EXPERIENCE WHEN WE BECOME MARRIED I HAVE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH AND IF I HAD TO DO IT AGAIN I WOULD STILL DO IT FOR LOVE

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over 3 years ago

marriage type

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almost 6 years ago

MARRIAGE IS SO BEAUITFUL WHEN IT IS DONE WITH THE ONE YOU TRULY LOVE I ENCOURAGE EVERY ONE TO MARRY FOR LOVE I MARRIED MY HUSBAND MICHAEL ON 9/02/2005 IT IS NOW 2009 WE ARE STILL HAPPILY MARRIED I JUST WISH THE DISCRIMINATING AND JEALOUSY WOULD STOP BECAUSE I WILL REMAIN MRS LEFFALL FOREVER

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about 6 years ago

why isnt there anything related to the marriage of the disabled??

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almost 2 years ago

Important research information

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almost 3 years ago

To be exact, I am very very impressed of the materials listed in this page of the various types of marriages which I have study in this chapter.

Can you try to prepare me additional copies so that can be used personally by myself?

May the Almighty God bless you and continues to watch over you and your entire family far and near.

Peace and understanding should follow you through your life.

Bye bye, David

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about 1 month ago

has helped me to assemble notes for my motivational talks to youth of today

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2 months ago

i need information duolocal as a marriage

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2 months ago

i need information duolocal as a marriage

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over 3 years ago

i think you have to advice the married couples how to get through the difficulties in thier marrige

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over 3 years ago

thumbs for the good work.

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about 4 years ago

marrying someone i love is the best decision i ever made,

so marry the person you loved

despite of his or her traits

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over 5 years ago

My Marriage is defiantly the way God intended it to be my husband has been in my life for years before the wedding we lived together and raised our children we know how to take care of each other needs,wants and desires he asked me to marry him and i said yes it was done out of pure love we do not have a open marriage he knows he is not free to comitt adultrey it is un holy in the eyes of the Lord our marriage type is the way God intended it to be out of Love Respect Honesty Friendship Trust and so much more I know it will last forever because our love is real I hope you too can find true love and be content with the one you choose to spend your life with and he already know that his play boy days are over nobodys else can give him the love his wife is giving to him.

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almost 6 years ago

Digital marriage - A marriage that occurs within a computer or video game.

Forced marriage - A marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without his/her consent or against his/her will.

Human-animal marriage - A marriage between a human and a non-human animal.

Mutta marriage - A marriage for pleasure between a Shia man and a Shia woman or a woman who believes in the same.

open marriage - A marriage in which the partners agree that each is free to engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without regarding this as sexual infidelity.

sexless marriage - A marriage in which no sex is had between the two partners.

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almost 6 years ago

For Hannah's question, I think the girl cannot elloped cause she is under age.

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almost 6 years ago

I have a friend whose 16 and she's a senior in high school. She's in love with this guy who is 20. If the parent wont allow her to marry him, can she get elloped? I told her to wait but she's immpatient and insatiable. I need an answer, please?

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over 6 years ago

think dat we must respect wat others do and i agree with all the types oof marriage

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over 6 years ago

I've heard that common law marriage is no longer recognized in PA; Is this true? Is there a certain number of years that one needs to live together for you to be considered married?



We have been living together now for 6 years. August 28 of "2008"; iT WILL BE 7 YEARS!



SINCERELY, DEBORAH RICHARD

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about 7 years ago

no, you cannot marry more than one person no matter in which two, different states. The divorce must be finalized before he can legally marry you. I do believe, though, that there are certain time restraints to that. I would consult a divorce lawyer. Sorry that isn't much, but good luck.

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about 7 years ago

I have a thouth,i suspect that my (boyfriend/husband) because i have been living with him for almost five years and we are not married yet, is still married in mexico and hasnt got divorce, thats why he doesnt want to marry me, can he get married in twice in different states or not? Please i hope i can get an answer. Thank you.