The word "marriage" derives from Middle English mariage, which first appears in 1250–1300 CE.This in turn is derived from Old French, marier (to marry), and ultimately Latin, marītāre, meaning to provide with a husband or wife and marītāri meaning to get married.Marriage can be recognized by a state, an organization, a religious authority, a tribal group, a local community, or peers. When a marriage is performed and carried out by a government institution in accordance with the marriage laws of the jurisdiction, without religious content, it is a civil marriage.Civil marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before the state.The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions, but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and 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.For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.as such, they could not own or inherit property, or represent themselves legally (see for example coverture).
Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce or annulment.
The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved, and any offspring they may produce or adopt.
In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and a diminishing number of these permit polygyny, child marriages, and forced marriages.
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 of the infringement of women's rights, or the infringement of children's rights (both female and male children), and because of international law.