The word "marriage" derives from Middle English mariage, which first appears in 1250–1300 CE.
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 for women's rights and because of international law.
None of these men had legal rights to the woman's child.
This forced Gough to disregard sexual access as a key element of marriage and to define it in terms of legitimacy of offspring alone: marriage is "a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum." Economic anthropologist Duran Bell has criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy.
For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.
Historically, in most cultures, married women had very few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family's children, the property of the husband; as such, they could not own or inherit property, or represent themselves legally (see for example coverture).
Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union 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 sexual, are acknowledged.
(See Nuer "Ghost marriage") Monogamy is a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse during their lifetime or at any one time (serial monogamy).