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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
To meet Wikipedia's quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup.
Please discuss this issue on the talk page, or replace this tag with a more specific message. Editing help is available.
This article has been tagged since May 2006.
Youth conversing with suitors
Young men courting a youth in a garden. From the Haft Awrang of Jami, in the chapter "A Father Advises His Son About Love". Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.Dating redirects here; for other uses, see Dating (disambiguation).
Courtship or dating is the process of selecting and attracting a mate for companionship, sex, marriage and sexual reproduction.

1 Dating and alternative courtship customs
1.1 Dating
2 Courtship rituals
3 Structured courtship
4 Commercial dating services
4.1 History of commercial dating services
5 Courtship in the animal kingdom
6 See also

Dating and alternative courtship customs
Courtship usually involves one or more of the following methods:
Face-to-face dating
Internet meetings, also known as virtual dating
Online chat
Phone conversations
The giving of gifts, such as flowers

Dating is part of courtship. It is the pre-scheduled, usually exclusive meetings of two people with mutual interest in one another, to communicate with and to understand each other better via joint participation in social activities during time away from work or school. In Western societies, a date is an occasion when one socializes with a potential lover or spouse. In this sense, the purpose of a date is for the people dating to become acquainted and decide whether they want to have a relationship.
During dating, people often explore the following traits in one another:
Character and integrity
Religious views
Political views
Family, cultural and social background
Gaps between age and distance
Direction and stages of personal growth
Financial arrangement
Ways of communication
Views on sex, marriage and child-bearing
Usually, if the two parties discover that they have poor or low compatibility, it signals the end of the relationship.
Some recommend that couples continue to have one-to-one exclusive dating with each other after marriage and child-birth, so as to maintain feelings of intimacy.
Dating may be the term describing the relationship of two people attending a date, but other terms are often used. These terms can imply different degrees of commitment and monogamy, but with some ambiguity. In the mid-20th century, United States teenagers commonly dated or "went out" with multiple people before "going steady" with just one, but the term "going out" later came to imply an exclusive relationship. Other terms include "seeing" one another and "pseudo-dating" where the time is spent together, but the prospect of actual romantic relationship may be understood by one or both parties but is never explicitly discussed.

Courtship rituals
During courtship, a person usually displays his or her quality aspects, whether material, such as in the form of gifts, or emotional, such as personality and sensitivity. The use of perfume and cologne may be used as well.
A person usually attempts to create a romantic environment through surroundings or speech (such as love songs or poems) as well.
The display of sexual prowness is sometimes shown.

Structured courtship
In many traditional societies, courtship is a highly structured activity, with well-known rules. In many cultures, courtship is made redundant, or eliminated altogether, by the practice of arranged marriages, where partners are chosen for young people, typically by their parents. In some societies, the parents or community choose potential partners, and then allow limited dating to determine whether the parties are suited.
In Japan, there is a type of courtship called Omiai. Parents will hire a matchmaker to provide pictures and résumés of potential mates, and if the couple agrees, there will be a formal meeting with the matchmaker and often parents in attendance. The matchmaker and parents will often exert pressure on the couple to decide whether they want to marry or not after only a few dates.

Commercial dating services

History of commercial dating services
Though most people meet their dates at social organizations, in their daily life, or are introduced through friends or relatives, commercial dating agencies emerged strongly, but discreetly, in the Western world after World War II, mostly catering for the 25–44 age group. Newspaper and magazine personal ads also became common.

In the last five years, mate-finding and courtship have seen changes due to online dating services. Telecommunications and computer technologies have developed rapidly since around 1995, allowing daters the use of home telephones with answering machines – mobile phones – and web-based systems to find prospective partners. "Pre-dates" can take place by telephone or online via instant messaging, e-mail, or even video communication. A disadvantage is that, with no initial personal interview by a traditional dating agency head, Internet daters are free to exaggerate or lie about their characteristics.
While the growing popularity of the Internet took some time, now one in five singles is said to look for love on the Web, which has led to a dramatic shift in dating patterns. Research in the United Kingdom suggests that as of 2004 there were around 150 agencies there, and the market was growing at around 20 percent a year due to, first, the very low entry barriers to setting up a dating site, and secondly, the rising number of single people. However, even academic researchers find it impossible to find precise figures about crucial statistics, such as the ratio of active daters to the large number of inactive members whom the agency will often wrongly claim as potential partners, and the overall ratio of men to women in an agency's membership. Academic research on traditional pre-Internet agencies suggests that most agencies have far more men than women in their membership.
Traditionally, in many societies (including Western societies), men were expected to fill the role of the pursuer. However, the anonymity of the Internet (as well as other factors) has allowed women to take on that role online. A recent study indicated that "women pay to contact men as often as the reverse, which is quite different from behavior in telephone-based dating system[s]" (from Wired magazine).
The trend of singles making a Web connection continues to increase, as the percentage of North American singles who have tried Internet dating has grown from two percent in 1999 to over ten percent today (from Canadian Business, February 2002). More than half of online consumers (53%) know someone who has started a friendship or relationship online, and three-quarters of 18-to-24-year-old online consumers (74%) say they do. There is also some academic evidence that the 18–25 age group has significantly taken up online dating. This growing trend is reflected in the surging popularity of online communities such as Friendster, Facebook, and MySpace, sites which are not directly geared toward dating, but many users nonetheless use to find potential dates or research a new acquaintance to check for availability and compatibility.
There is still plenty of room for traditional matchmakers to thrive, however, and only time will tell which industry wins out in the end.

Courtship in the animal kingdom
Many non-human animal species have mate-selection rituals also referred to as courtship. Animal courtship may involve complicated dances or touching; vocalizations; or displays of beauty or fighting prowess. Most animal courtship occurs out of sight of humans, so it is often the least documented of animal behaviors. Animals whose courtship rituals are well studied include the bowerbird, whose male builds a "bower" of collected objects, and the mantis, whose female has been observed to cannibalize her mate during mating.

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Single (relationship)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In relationships, a single person is one that is not married, or, more broadly, that they are not in an exclusive romantic relationship. A single man is often referred to as a bachelor and a single woman as a bachelorette, or, using the traditional term, a spinster.
People who are single typically engage in dating to find a partner or spouse. Not all single people actively seek out a relationship, however, as some are content to wait for the 'right' person to enter their life, while others do not seek relations at all.
Loneliness, however, can occur for many single people who look for but cannot find anyone they might wish to date, especially for those suffering the loss of companionship following divorce. Critics of this viewpoint point out that while single people may feel lonely, cohabiting and married people also experience loneliness. Some single people, however, regard and appreciate solitude as an opportunity. Many single people who live alone have pets for companionship.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view.
Please improve the article or discuss the issue on the talk page.
For other uses, see Wedding (disambiguation).
Nubian wedding with some international modern touches, near Aswan, Egypt
Preparing for the photographs, at a wedding in Thornbury Castle, EnglandA wedding is a civil or religious ceremony at which the beginning of a marriage is celebrated.

Contents [hide]
1 Customs
1.1 General customs
1.2 French customs
2 Music
2.1 Western weddings
3 Variants
4 See also
4.1 Events related to weddings
4.2 Types of weddings
4.3 Wedding traditions
4.4 Clothing
4.5 Food
4.6 Participants
4.7 Related travel


General customs
Wedding ceremonies may contain any number of different elements, however most contain wedding vows of some kind and a proclamation of marriage, usually by the officiant.
Other elements may include music, poetry, prayer, scripture, or other traditions. In most societies a number of traditions or customs have emerged around the wedding ceremony, many of which have lost their original symbolic meaning in the modern world. Other wedding traditions are relatively recent. Some elements of the Western wedding ceremony symbolize the bride's departure from her father's control and entry into a new family with her husband. In modern Western weddings, this symbolism is largely vestigial, since husband and wife are of equal power and status. Recently in some cultures, same-sex weddings have begun to be celebrated
The Western custom of the bride wearing a white wedding dress, came to symbolize purity in the Victorian era (despite popular misconception and the hackneyed jokes of situation comedies the white dress did not actually indicate virginity, which was symbolized by a face veil). Within the "white wedding" tradition, a white dress and veil would not have been considered appropriate in the second or third wedding of a widow or divorcee. The specific conventions of Western weddings largely from a Protestant and Catholic viewpoint, are discussed at "White wedding."

Weddings in modern China combine both traditional elements and elements influenced by the West. The actual civil ceremony consists of registering the marriage with the local registrar is brief and done without much ceremony. The wedding reception, however, is elaborate and complex. The one prominent element of modern Chinese weddings is the Chinese wedding album.
A wedding is often followed or accompanied by a wedding reception, at which an elaborate wedding cake is served. Western traditions include toasting the bride and groom, the newlyweds having the first dance, and cutting the cake. The bride throws her bouquet to the assembled group of all unmarried women in attendance, and the woman who catches it is supposedly going to be the next to wed. A fairly recent egalitarian equivalent has the groom throwing the bride's garter to the assembled unmarried men; the man who catches it is supposedly the next to wed.

German Wood Wedding FiguresCustoms vary and in multicultural ceremonies. The customs may be varied, mixed or totally created to suit the personalities and interests of the couple. Again, such ceremonies are more common when performed by Civil Celebrants, as in Australia.
A long-standing modern tradition is for brides to wear or carry "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" during the service. It is considered good luck to do so. Often times the bride attempts to have one item that meets all of these qualifications, such as a borrowed blue handerchief which is "new to her" but loaned by her grandmother (thus making it old.)

French customs
Many times in smaller French towns, the groom will meet his fiancée at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the chapel where the ceremony is being held. As the couple proceeds to the chapel, children will stretch long white ribbons across the road which the bride will cut as she passes.
At the chapel, the bride and groom are seated on two red velvet chairs underneath a silk canopy they called a carre. Laurel leaves may be scattered across their paths when they exit the chapel. Sometimes small coins are also tossed for the children to gather.
At the reception, the couple customarily uses a toasting cup, called a Coupe de Marriage. The origin of giving toast actually began in France, when they literally dropped a small piece of toast into the couple's wine (to ensure a healthy life). They lifted their glass to "a toast", as is common in Western culture today.
Some couples choose to serve a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. The dessert is a pyramid of crème-filled pastry puffs, drizzled with a caramel glaze.
At a more boisterous wedding, tradition involves continuing the celebration until very late at night. After the reception, those invited to the wedding will gather outside the newlyweds' window and bang pots and pans. They are then invited into the house for some more drinks in the couple's honor, after which the couple is finally allowed to be alone for their first night together as husband and wife.
Another practice that is becoming more common at wedding celebrations is "beheading" a bottle of champagne with a sabre made for the occasion. It was started as a way for the Hussards (under Napoleon's command) to celebrate victories and exhibit their horseback skills: they would "behead" the top off a bottle of champagne while on horseback. Legend has it that the skilled horsemen would ride at a full gallop while brave women held up bottles of champagne. The sabre must strike the neck of the bottle at exactly the right angle (champagne bottles have over 100 pounds of pressure per square inch).

This practice spread throughout France as a way to celebrate special occasions. Now decorative replicas of these special sabres can be purches from artisans in Thiers, France (the French capital of cutlery).


Western weddings
Music often played at western weddings includes:
The "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, often used as the processional and commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride" - Note: Richard Wagner is said to have been Anti-Semitic, and as a result, the Bridal Chorus is often not used at Jewish weddings.
Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D is often used as an alternative processional.
The "Wedding March" from Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, often used as a recessional.
The "Toccata" from Charles-Marie Widor's Symphony for Organ No. 5, also used as a recessional.
Segments of the Ode To Joy, the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, sometimes make appearances at weddings; its message of unity is suitable for the occasion.
A wedding carriage in Bristol, England[edit]
A double wedding is a single ceremony where two fiancee couples rendezvous for two separate weddings. Typically, a fiancee with a sibling might plan a double wedding with that sibling.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Love (disambiguation).

A cartoonish version of the heart, a frequent modern symbol of love.Love is a condition or phenomenon of emotional primacy, or absolute value. Love generally includes an emotion of intense attraction to either another person, a place, or thing; and may also include the aspect of caring for or finding identification with those objects, including self love. Love can describe an intense feeling of affection, an emotion or an emotional state. In ordinary use, it usually refers to interpersonal love, an experience usually felt by a person for another person. Love is commonly considered impossible to describe.
Dictionaries tend to define love as deep affection or fondness.[1] In colloquial use, according to polled opinion, the most favoured definitions of love include the words:[2]

life - someone or something for which you would give your life.
care - someone or something about which you care more than yourself.
friendship - favoured interpersonal associations or relationships.
union - a synergistic connection, as in the perfect union of two souls.
family - people related via common ancestry, religion, or race, etc.
bond - the information shared between two personalities, experienced simultaneously.
The concept of love, however, is subject to debate. Some deny the existence of love, calling it a recently invented abstraction. Moreover, approximately 13 percent of cultures reportedly have no word for love.[3] Others maintain that love exists but is undefinable; being a quantity which is spiritual, metaphysical, or philosophical in nature. Love is one of the most common themes in art.

1 Overview
2 Types
3 Scientific views
4 Cultural views
5 Religious views
6 See also
6.1 Human love
6.2 Other types of love (philias)
7 References

Love has several different meanings in the English language, from something that gives a little pleasure ("I loved that meal") to something that one would die for (patriotism, pair-bonding). And in contrast to the definition at the top, frequently people use the verb "love" to indicate want or desire for themselves as opposed to for another. For example: "I love ice cream," or even "I love her/him," does not refer to desiring wellness for ice cream, and it may not refer to desiring wellness for her/him, but rather to the desire for ice cream or for her/him felt by the speaker. The word also frequently indicates elevated appreciation or admiration: "I love that artist."
Love might best be defined as acting intentionally, in sympathetic response to others to promote overall well-being. Or to put it simply, "love responds intentionally to promote well-being" (Thomas Jay Oord). Love promotes overall flourishing, but often focuses on those close at hand.

Cultural differences make any universal definition of love difficult to establish. See the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Expressions of love may include the love for a soul or mind, the love of laws and organizations, love for a body, love for nature, love of food, love of money, love for learning, love of power, love of fame, love for the respect of others, et cetera. Different people place varying degrees of importance on the kinds of love they receive. Love is essentially an abstract concept, easier to experience than to explain. Many believe, as stated originally by Virgil, that "Love conquers all", or as stated by The Beatles, "all you need is love". Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of 'absolute value', as opposed to 'relative value'. One Definition of Love is this: That in which is a chosen necessity in ones life to possess to have and to hold to cherish even to loosing of one's own life and health and wealth and even the denial of ones own will in all that does not go against Love.[citation needed]

Courtly love – a late medieval conventionalized code prescribing certain conduct and emotions for ladies and their lovers.
Erotic love – desire characterized by a focus on sexual desires.
Familial love – affection brokered through kinship connections, intertwined with concepts of attachment and bonding.
Free love – sexual relations according to choice and unrestricted by marriage.
Platonic love – a close relationship in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated.
Puppy love – romantic affection felt between or as though between adolescents.
Religious love – devotion to one’s deity or theology.
Romantic love – affection characterized by a mix of emotional and sexual desire.
Unrequited love – affection and desire not reciprocated or returned.

Scientific views
Main article: Love (scientific views)
Throughout history, predominately, philosophy and religion have speculated the most into the phenomenon of love. In the last century, the science of psychology has written a great deal on the subject. Recently, however, the sciences of evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, neuroscience, and biology have begun to take centre stage in discussion as to the nature and function of love.
Biological models of sex tend to see it as a mammalian drive, just like hunger or thirst. Psychology sees love as more of a social and cultural phenomenon. Famous psychologist Sternberg explains that love has three different components. Intimacy is a form where two people can share secrets and various details of their personal life. Intimacy is usually shown in friendships and romantic love affairs. Commitment on the other hand is the expectation that the relationship is going to last forever. This factor of love is shown in empty love (ex. when two people stay together for the sake of their children). The last and most common form of love is simply sex, or passion. Passionate love is shown in infatuation love, as well as romantic love. There are probably elements of truth in both views — certainly love is influenced by hormones (such as oxytocin) and pheromones, and how people think and behave in love is influenced by one’s conceptions of love. Hence, from time immemorial, science, from naturalistic poetry to MRI neurochemistry, has debated the nature of love.

Cultural views
Main article: Love (cultural views)
Although there exist numerous cross-cultural unified similarities as to the nature and definition of love, as in there being a thread of commitment, tenderness, and passion common to all human existence, there are differences. For example, in India, with arranged marriages commonplace, it is believed that love is not a necessary ingredient in the initial stages of marriage – it is something that can be created during the marriage; whereas in the United States, by comparison, love is seen as a necessary prerequisite to marriage.

Religious views
Main article: Love (religious views)
Whether religious love can be expressed in similar terms to interpersonal love is a matter for philosophical debate. Religious 'love' might be considered a euphemistic term, more closely describing feelings of deference or acquiescence. Most religions use the term love to express the devotion the follower has to their deity, who may be a living guru or religious teacher, as in the Bhakti traditions of Asia. This love can be expressed by prayer, service, good deeds, and personal sacrifice. Reciprocally, the followers may believe that the deity loves the followers and all of creation. Some traditions encourage the development of passionate love in the believer for the deity.

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Intimate relationship
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship with a great deal of physical and/or emotional intimacy. It is usually characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment. Sexuality may or may not be involved.

Main article: Love
Love is an important factor in intimate relationships. Research has established that love is more than just liking a lot, and is distinct from sexual attraction. Typically, love in relationships is divided into two types: passionate and companionate. Passionate love is intense longing, and is often accompanied by physiological arousal (shortness of breath, rapid heart rate). Companionate love is affection and a feeling of intimacy not accompanied by physiological arousal.
Anthropological research has shown some variations in intimate relationships. In the Mediterranean, the idea of passionate love is frequently present, whereas in Sub-Saharan Africa there is a lesser amount. Chinese couples tend to value companionate love over passionate love, whereas with American couples the reverse is true.
Different cultures have different conceptions of love. In Japan, there is the concept of amae, acting in ways to induce another to take care of you (as a parent would) secure in the knowledge that they will. In China, there is a type of romantic love called gan qing, which reflects the tenor of a social relationship between two people or two organizations. In Korea, jung(?) is a personal connection, or feeling of connected fates.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Family law
Entering into marriage
Prenuptial agreement  · Marriage
Common-law marriage
Same-sex marriage
Legal states similar to marriage
Cohabitation  · Civil union
Domestic partnership
Registered partnership
Dissolution of marriage
Annulment  · Divorce  · Alimony
Issues affecting children
Paternity  · Legitimacy  · Adoption
Legal guardian  · Ward
Emancipation of minors
Parental responsibility
Contact (including Visitation)
Residence in English law
Custody  · Child support
Areas of possible legal concern
Spousal abuse  · Child abuse
Child abduction
Adultery  · Bigamy  · Incest
Conflict of Laws Issues
Marriage  · Nullity  · Divorce
A marriage is a committed relationship between or among individuals, recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants. This dual nature, a binding legal contract plus a moral promise, makes marriage difficult to characterize.
In Western societies, marriage has traditionally been understood as a monogamous union between a man (husband) and a woman (wife), while in other parts of the world polygamy has been a common form of marriage. Usually this has taken the form of polygyny (a man having several wives) but a very few societies have permitted polyandry (a woman having several husbands). [1]

1 Definitions
2 Recognition
3 Types of marriages
3.1 Western world
3.2 Eastern world
3.3 Polygamy, monogamy, and polyandry
3.3.1 Variations
3.3.2 Christian insistence on monogamy
3.3.3 Contemporary Western societies
3.4 Forced marriages
3.5 Unique practices
4 Marriage restrictions
5 Weddings
6 Termination
7 Rights and obligations relating to marriage
8 Marriage and religion
9 Marriage and economics
10 Romantic marriage and pragmatic marriage
10.1 Pragmatic marriage
10.2 Pragmatic marriage contrasted to romantic marriage
11 Same-sex marriage
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Jurisdictions accepting same-sex marriage
11.3 Controversy
12 Criticisms of the institution of marriage
12.1 Overview
12.2 Feminist concerns
12.3 Antiquated traditions
12.4 Masculinist concerns

Example of an American marriage licensePrecise definitions vary historically and between and within cultures: modern understanding emphasizes the legitimacy of sexual relations in marriage, yet the universal and unique attribute of marriage is the creation of affinal ties (in-laws). Traditionally, societies encourage one to marry "out" far enough to strengthen the ties, but "close" enough so that the in-laws are "one of us" or "our kind". One exception to this rule is found in the marriage of royalty, who strengthen their aid through concentration of wealth rather than through affinal ties. Even in this case, the individual was often encouraged to marry "within" close family limits. (Further discussion and reference: Marvin Harris, late Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University)
Marriage remains important as the socially sanctioned bond in a sexual relationship. Marriage is usually understood as a male-female relationship designed to produce children and successfully socialize them. Historically, most societies have allowed some form of polygamy. The West is a major exception. Europe and the United States have defined themselves as monogamous cultures. This was in part a Germanic cultural tradition, a requirement of Christianity (after the sixth century AD), and a mandate of Roman Law. However, Roman Law supported prostitution, concubinage, sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex, and sexual access to slaves. The Christian West formally banned these practices.
Globally, most existing societies no longer allow polygamy as a form of marriage. For example, China shifted from allowing polygamy to supporting only monogamy in the 1953 Marriage act after the Communist revolution. Most African and Islamic societies continue to allow polygamy (around 2.0 billion people). Probably, less than 3% of all Muslim marriages are polygamous. It is increasingly expensive in an Urban setting, but more useful in rural areas where children are a future source of agricultural labor. Most of the world's population now live in societies where polygamy is less common and marriages are overwhelmingly monogamous.

Since the later decades of the 20th century many traditional assumptions about the nature and purpose of marriage and family have been challenged, in particular by gay rights advocacy groups, who disagree with the notion that marriage should be exclusively heterosexual. Some people also argue that marriage may be an unnecessary legal fiction. This follows from an overall shift in Western ideas and practices of family; since WWII, the West has seen a dramatic increase in divorce (6% to over 40% of first marriages), cohabitation without marriage, a growing unmarried population, children born outside of marriage (5% to over 33% of births), and an increase in adultery (8% to over 40%). A system of somewhat serial monogamy has de facto emerged.
In modern times, the term marriage is generally reserved for a union that is formally recognized by the state (although some people disagree). The phrase legally married can be used to emphasize this point. In the United States there are two methods of receiving state recognition of a marriage: common law marriage and obtaining a marriage license. The majority of US states do not recognize common law marriage. Many localities do support various types of domestic partnerships.
Since the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), marriage or holy matrimony has been a sacrament when practiced by Christians. (Marriages between non-Christians are regarded by the Catholic Church as "good and natural marriages.") Having always regarded it, in practical terms as a relationship between a man and a woman, in the 12th century that the Church (the Catholic Church ), as well as other Orthodoxies, formally defined marriage as such. (In Catholicism the Sacrament of Matrimony (Marriage) is between three people: God, the man and the woman). The Protestant Reformation reformulated marriage as a life-long covenant. Marriage of some kind is found in most societies, and typically married people form a nuclear household, which is often subsequently extended biologically, through children. In the West the nuclear family emerged after 1100. Most non-Western societies have a broader definition of family that includes an extended family network. Alternatively, people may choose to be "childfree". Finally, they may be childless due to infertility, and possibly seek treatment or consider adoption. The term wedlock is a synonym for marriage, and is mainly used in the phrase "out of wedlock" to describe a child born of parents who were not married (see illegitimacy).
In some societies, there is a growing debate about the form(s) that marriage should take. Two of the most hotly-debated variants are discussed below: same-sex marriage - legal, by 2005, in some countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada (and the US states of Massachusetts and Hawaii) - and polygamy.

The participants in a marriage usually seek social recognition for their relationship, and many societies require official approval of a religious or civil body. Sociologists thus distinguish between a marriage ceremony conducted under the auspices of a religion and a state-authorized civil marriage.
In many jurisdictions the civil marriage ceremony may take place during the religious marriage ceremony, although they are theoretically distinct. In most American states, the marriage may be officiated by a priest, minister, or religious authority, and in such a case the religious authority acts simultaneously as an agent of the state. In some countries such as France, Germany and Russia, it is necessary to be married by the state before having a religious ceremony. Some states allow civil marriages in circumstances which are not allowed by many religions, such as same-sex marriages or civil unions, and marriage may also be created by the operation of the law alone as in common-law marriage, which is a judicial recognition that two people living as domestic partners are entitled to the effects of marriage. Conversely, there are examples of people who have a religious ceremony that is not recognized by the civil authorities. Examples include widows who stand to lose a pension if they remarry and so undergo a marriage in the eyes of God, homosexual couples, some sects which recognize polygamy, retired couples who would lose pension benefits if legally married, Muslim men who wish to engage in polygamy that is condoned in some situations under Islam, and immigrants who do not wish to alert the immigration authorities that they are married either to a spouse they are leaving behind or because the complexity of immigration laws may make it difficult for spouses to visit on a tourist visa.

In Europe it has traditionally been the churches' office to make marriages official by registering them. Hence, it was a significant step towards a clear separation of church and state and also an intended and effective weakening of the Christian churches' role in Germany, when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduced the Zivilehe (civil marriage) in 1875. This law made the declaration of the marriage before an official clerk of the civil administration (both spouses affirming their will to marry) the procedure to make a marriage legally valid and effective, and reduced the clerical marriage to a mere private ceremony.

Types of marriages
The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture, and can change over time.

Western world
In the Americas and Europe, in the 21st century, legally recognized marriages are formally presumed to be monogamous (although some pockets of society still accept polygamy socially, if not legally, and some couples choose to enter into open marriages). In these countries, divorce is relatively simple and socially accepted. In the West, the prevailing view toward marriage today is that it is based on a legal covenant recognizing emotional attachment between the partners and entered into voluntarily.
In the West, marriage has evolved from a life-time covenant that can only be broken by fault or death to a contract that can be broken by either party at will. Other shifts in Western marriage since World War I include:
Unlike in the 19th century, women, not men, get child custody more than 80% of the time,
Both spouses have a formal duty of spousal support in the event of divorce (no longer just the husband),
Out of wedlock children have the same rights of support as legitimate children,
In most countries, rape within marriage is considered illegal and can be punished,
Spouses may no longer physically discipline or abuse their partner, husband nor wife and
In some jurisdictions, property acquired since marriage is not owned by the title-holder. This property is considered marital and to be divided among the spouses by community property law or equitable distribution via the courts.
Eastern world

Nubian wedding with some international modern touches, near Aswan, EgyptSome societies permit polygamy, in which a man could have multiple wives; even in such societies however, most men have only one. In such societies, having multiple wives is generally considered a sign of wealth and power. The status of multiple wives has varied from one society to another.

In the Muslim world, marriage is sanctioned between a man and a woman, but there are verses in chapter 4 of the Qur'an which state that in certain conditions a man is allowed up to four wives. In Muslim societies, the different wives are considered equal and must be treated as such. In Indonesia, the largest Muslim majority state, marriage is allowed between a man and a woman who profess the same faith, while atheists are not allowed to marry.
In Imperial China, formal marriage was sanctioned only between a man and a woman, although among the upper classes, the primary wife was an arranged marriage with an elaborate formal ceremony while concubines could be taken on later with minimal ceremony. After the rise of Communism, only strictly monogamous marital relationships are permitted, although divorce is a relatively simple process.

Polygamy, monogamy, and polyandry

Polyandry (a woman having multiple husbands) occurs very rarely in a few isolated tribal societies with limited resources. These societies include some bands of the Canadian Inuit, although the practice has declined sharply in the 20th century due to the change from tribal religion to the Moravian religion. Additionally, the Spartans were notable for practicing polyandry. Spartan polyandry often took the form of adelphic polyandry (where the husbands are all biological brothers).
Societies which permit group marriage are extremely rare, but have existed in utopian societies such as the Oneida Community.
Today, many married people practice various forms of consensual nonmonogamy, including polyamory and swinging. These people have agreements with their spouses that permit other intimate relationships or sexual partners. Therefore, the concept of marriage need not necessarily hinge on sexual or emotional monogamy.

Christian insistence on monogamy
In the Christian tradition, a "one man one woman" model for the Christian marriage was advocated by Saint Augustine (354-439 AD) with his published letter The Good of Marriage. To discourage polygamy, he wrote it "was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce. For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there then was, when, even when wives bear children, it was allowed, in order to a more numerous posterity, to marry other wives in addition, which now is certainly not lawful." (chapter 15, paragraph 17) Sermons from St. Augustine's letters were popular and influential. In 534 AD Roman Emperor Justinian criminalized all but monogamous man/woman sex within the confines of marriage. The Justinian Code was the basis of European law for 1,000 years.
Christianity has continued to insist on monogamy as an essential of marriage.

Contemporary Western societies
In 21st century Western societies, bigamy is illegal and sexual relations outside marriage are generally frowned-upon, though there is a minority view accepting (or even advocating) open marriage.

However, divorce and remarriage are relatively easy to undertake in these societies. This has led to a practice called serial monogamy. "Serial monogamy" involves entering into successive marriages over time. Serial monogamy is also sometimes used to refer to cases where the couples cohabitate without getting married.

Forced marriages
Some traditional cultures still practice marriage by abduction, a form of forced marriage in which a woman who is kidnapped and raped by a man is regarded as his wife. This practice is limited to a few traditional cultures in a small number of countries, and is generally regarded as abhorrent by other cultures.

Unique practices
Some parts of India follow a custom in which the groom is required to marry with an auspicious plant called Tulsi before a second marriage to overcome inauspicious predictions about the health of the husband. However, the relationship is not consummated and does not affect their ability to remarry later. One should note that this is not a norm found across the entire Indian sub-continent.
In the state of Kerala, India, the Nambudiri Brahmin caste traditionally practices henogamy, in which only the eldest son in each family is permitted to marry.
In Mormonism, a couple may seal their marriage "for time and for all eternity" through a "sealing" ceremony conducted within the LDS temple. The couple is then believed to be bound to each other in marriage throughout eternity if they live according to their covenants made in the ceremony. Mormonism also allows living persons to act as proxies in the sealing ceremony to "seal" a marriage between ancestors who have been dead for at least one year and who were married during their lifetime. According to LDS theology, it is then up to the deceased individuals to accept or reject this sealing in the spirit world before their eventual resurrection. A living person can also be sealed to his or her deceased spouse, with another person (of the same sex as the deceased) acting as proxy for that deceased individual.
Other unusual variations include marriage between a living human and a ghost (Taiwan), a living human and a recently-deceased human with whom they were emotionally involved (France), and between a human being and God (Catholic and Orthodox monasticism). Again, these lack the social meaning of ordinary marriage and belong rather to the realm of religion or (in the case of weddings of dogs to other dogs, Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy, and the like) pure spectacle.
One society that traditionally did without marriage entirely was that of the Na of Yunnan province in southern China. According to anthropologist Cia Hua, sexual liaisons among the Na took place in the form of "visits" initiated by either men or women, each of whom might have two or three partners each at any given time (and as many as two hundred throughout a lifetime). The nonexistence of fathers in the Na family unit was consistent with their practice of matrilineality and matrilocality, in which siblings and their offspring lived with their maternal relatives. In recent years, the Chinese state has encouraged the Na to acculturate to the monogamous marriage norms of greater China. Such programs have included land grants to monogamous Na families, conscription (in the 1970s, couples were rounded up in villages ten or twenty at a time and issued marriage licenses), legislation declaring frequent sexual partners married and outlawing "visits", and the withholding of food rations from children who could not identify their fathers. Many of these measures were relaxed in favor of educational approaches after Deng Xiaoping came into power in 1981.

Marriage restrictions
Societies have always placed restrictions on marriage to relatives, though the degree of prohibited relationship varies widely. In almost all societies, marriage between brothers and sisters is forbidden, with Ancient Egyptian, Hawaiian, and Inca royalty being the rare exceptions. In many societies, marriage between some first cousins is preferred, while at the other extreme, the medieval Catholic church prohibited marriage even between distant cousins. The present day Catholic Church still maintains a standard of required distance (in both consanguinity and affinity) for marriage.
In many societies, various rights are allotted only to married individuals .
In Indian Hindu community, especially in the Brahmin caste, marrying a person of the same Gotra is prohibited, since persons belonging to the same Gothra are said to have identical patrilineal descension. In ancient India when Gurukul was in existence, the shishyas (the pupils) were advised against marrying any of Guru's children as shishyas were considered Guru's children and it would be considered marriage among siblings (though there were exceptions like Arjuna's son Abhimanyu marrying Uttra, the dance student of Arjuna in Mahabharata).
Many societies have also adopted other restrictions on whom one can marry, such as prohibitions on marrying persons with the same surname, or persons with the same sacred animal. One example is South Korea. Even today, it is generally considered taboo for a man to marry a woman if they both have the same last name. A large percentage of the total South Korean population have the surname "Kim" (an estimated 20%).
Anthropologists refer to these sorts of restrictions as exogamy. One exception to this pattern is in ancient Egypt, where marriage between brothers and sisters was permitted in the royal family -- as it was also permitted in Hawaii and among the Inca; this privilege was denied commoners and may have served to concentrate wealth and power in one family (See also incest). The consequence of the incest-taboo is exogamy, the requirement to marry someone from another group. Anthropologists have thus pointed out that the incest taboo may serve to promote social solidarity.
Societies have also at times required marriage from within a certain group. Anthropologists refer to these restrictions as endogamy. An example of such restrictions would be a requirement to marry someone from the same tribe. Racist laws adopted by some societies in the past, such as Nazi-era Germany, apartheid-era South Africa and most of the southern United States and Utah prior to 1967, which prohibited marriage between persons of different races (miscegenation) could also be considered examples of endogamy.
Cultures that practiced slavery might admit that slave marriages formed but grant them no legal status. This was the practice under the Roman empire, so that in the Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas, the freewoman Perpetua could be described as "a married matron" but Felicitas as the "fellow-servant" of Revocatus -- even though the Christians regarded, religiously, such marriages as binding. Likewise, slave marriages in the United States were not binding, so that many contrabands escaping slavery during the American Civil War sought official status for their marriages. Among the rights distinguishing serfdom from slavery was the right to enter a legally recognizable marriage.

The ceremony in which a marriage is enacted and announced to the community is called a wedding. A wedding in which a couple marry in the "eyes of the law" is called a civil marriage. Religions also facilitate weddings, in the "eyes of God." In many European and some Latin American countries, where someone chooses a religious ceremony, they must also hold that ceremony separate from the civil ceremony. Certain countries, like Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands even legally demand that the civil marriage has to take place before any religious marriage. In some countries, notably the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Spain both ceremonies can be held together; the officiant at the religious and community ceremony also serves as an agent of the state to enact the civil marriage. That does not mean that the state is "recognizing" religious marriages; the "civil" ceremony just takes place at the same time as the religious ceremony. Often this involves simply signing a register during the religious ceremony. If that civil element of the full ceremony is left out for any reason, in the eyes of the law no marriage took place, irrespective of the holding of the religious ceremony.
Whilst some countries, such as Australia, permit marriages to be held in private and at any location, others, including England, require that the civil ceremony be conducted in a place specially sanctioned by law (ie. a church or registry office), and be open to the public. An exception can be made in the case of marriage by special emergency license, which is normally granted only when one of the parties is terminally ill. Rules about where and when persons can marry vary from place to place. Some regulations require that one of the parties reside in the locality of the registry office. Because of Australia's very relaxed rules on marriage, many famous people, including Michael Jackson, have opted to marry in Australia, so as to have a private ceremony.
The way in which a marriage is enacted has changed over time, as has the institution of marriage itself. In Europe during the Middle Ages, marriage was enacted by the couple promising verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or other witnesses was not required if circumstances prevented it. This promise was known as the "verbum". If made in the present tense ("I marry you", it was unquestionably binding; if made in the future tense ("I will marry you"), it would, by itself constitute a betrothal, but if the couple proceeded to have sexual relations, the union was a marriage. As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state; by the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had heavy state involvement in marriage. As part of the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church added a requirement of witnesses to the promise, which under normal circumstances had to include the priest.

Many societies provide for the termination of marriage through divorce. Marriages can also be annulled or cancelled, which is a legal proceeding that establishes that a marriage was invalid from its beginning.

Rights and obligations relating to marriage
Typically, marriage is the institution through which people join together their lives in emotional and economic ways through forming a household. It often confers rights and obligations with respect to raising children, holding property, sexual behavior, kinship ties, tribal membership, relationship to society, inheritance, emotional intimacy, and love.
Marriage sometimes: establishes the legal father of a woman's child; establishes the legal mother of a man's child; gives the husband or his family control over the wife's sexual services, labor, and/or property; gives the wife or her family control over the husband's sexual services, labor, and/or property; establishes a joint fund of property for the benefit of children; establishes a relationship between the families of the husband and wife. No society does all of these; no one of these is universal (see Edmund Leach's article in "Marriage, Family, and Residence," edited by Paul Bohannan and John Middleton).

Marriage has traditionally been a prerequisite for starting a family, which usually serves as the building block of a community and society. Thus, marriage not only serves the interests of the two individuals, but also the interests of their children and the society of which they are a part.

In most of the world's major religions, marriage is traditionally a prerequisite for sexual intercourse: unmarried people are not supposed to have sex, which is then called fornication and is socially discouraged or even criminalized. In practice, most societies have tacitly accepted sex between unmarried people if they marry as soon as pregnancy occurs (see shotgun wedding). Sex with a married person other than one's spouse, called adultery, is even less acceptable and has also often been criminalized, especially in the case of a person who is a representative of the government (e.g. president, prime minister, political representative, public-school teacher, military officer).

Marriage and religion
Main article: Religious aspects of marriage
Many religions have extensive teachings regarding marriage. Most Christian churches give some form of blessing to a marriage; the wedding ceremony typically includes some sort of pledge by the community to support the couple's relationship. In the Roman Catholic Church "Holy Matrimony" is considered to be one of the seven sacraments when performed by Christians, in this case one that a priest bestows upon the couple in front of members of the community as witnesses during a "Nuptial Mass". In the Eastern Orthodox church, it is one of the Mysteries, and is seen as an ordination and a martyrdom. In marriage, Christians see a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. In Judaism, marriage is viewed as a coming together of two families, therefore prolonging the religion and cultural heritage of the Jewish people. Islam also recommends marriage highly; among other things, it helps in the pursuit of spiritual perfection. The Bahá'í Faith sees marriage as a foundation of the structure of society, and considers it both a physical and spiritual bond that endures into the afterlife. Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. By contrast, Buddhism does not encourage or discourage marriage, although it does teach how one might live a happily married life.
Protestants believe that marriage is a lifetime commitment and should not be entered into lightly. God created the institution of marriage when He gave the first woman to the first man. Marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman. The Bible states in Genesis 2:24 (ESV), “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Different religions have different beliefs as regards the breakup of marriage.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church does not permit divorce, because in its eyes, a marriage is forged by God. The Church states that what God joins together, humans cannot sunder. As a result, although acknowledging civil divorce may be required to protect one spouse or the children, people who get a civil divorce are still considered married in the eyes of the Catholic Church, which does not allow them to remarry, even if the state they live in allows a civil re-marriage. The Catholic Church recognizes marriages between non-baptized people as "good and natural marriages" and even in the event that one partner is baptized, does not allow their being divorced if the non-baptized person is willing to live peaceably with the Christian. However, if the non-baptized person refused to live with the Christian, or to do so peaceably -- as, for instance, interfering with the Christian's practice of religion -- the marriage can be broken. Currently, under some circumstances, Catholics can be permitted an annulment. With a nullity, religions and the state often apply different rules, meaning that a couple, for example, could receive a divorce from the state and not have their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church because the state disagrees with the church over whether an annulment could be granted in a particular case. This produces a situation of Catholics getting Church annulments simultaneously with state divorces, allowing the ex-partners to marry other people in the eyes of both the Church and the State.

Islam does allow divorce; however, there is a verse stated in the Qur'an describing divorce as the least desirable act allowed between people. The general rule is for a man to allow his wife to stay until the end of her menstrual period or for 3 months if she so wishes after the divorce. During this period they would be divorced in that they would simply be living under the same roof but not functioning as man and wife. The Qur'an scholars suggest that the main point is to prevent any decisions by the woman from being affected by hormonal fluctuations as well as to allow any heated arguments or differences to be resolved in a civil manner before the marriage is completely terminated. However, there is no obligation on the woman to stay, if she so wishes she may leave. The man is also obligated to give his wife a gift or monetary sum equivalent to at least half her mahr (gift or monetary sum which is given to the wife at the commencement of the marriage). Specific conditions as to how a divorce is conducted also apply if a woman is pregnant, or has given birth just prior to the divorce.
refer Qur'an 2:228-232, 236, 237, 241 and 65:1-7. See also 4:35.
Marriages are typically entered into with a vow that explicitly limits the duration of the marriage with the statement "till death do you part". However, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have a distinctive view of marriage called Celestial marriage, wherein they believe that individuals that are worthy can enter into a marriage relationship that can endure beyond death. This is documented in their Proclamation On The Family.

Marriage and economics
The economics of marriage have changed over time. Historically, in many cultures the family of the bride had to provide a dowry to pay a man for marrying their daughter. In other cultures, the family of the groom had to pay a bride price to the bride's family for the right to marry the daughter. In some cultures, dowries and bride prices are still demanded today. In both cases, the financial transaction takes place between the groom (or his family) and the bride's family; the bride has no part in the transaction and often no choice in whether to participate in the marriage.
In some cultures, dowries were not unconditional gifts; if the groom had other children, they could not inherit the dowry, which had to go to the bride's children, and which, in the event of her childlessness, had to return to her family -- sometimes not until the groom's death, or his remarriage; often the bride was entitled to inherit at least as much as her dowry from her husband's estate.
Morning gifts, which might also be arranged by the bride's father rather than the bride, were given to the bride herself; the name derives from the custom, in Germanic tribes, of giving them the morning after the wedding night. She might or might not have control of this morning gift during the lifetime of her husband, but when widowed, is entitled to it. If the amount of her inheritance is settled by law rather than agreement, it may be called dower. Depending on legal systems and the exact arrangement, she may not be entitled to dispose of it after her death, and may lose the property if she remarries.
Morning gifts were preserved for many centuries in morganatic marriage, a union where the wife's inferior social status was held to prohibit her children from inheriting a noble's titles or estates. The morning gift would be to support the wife and children.

In many modern legal systems, two people who marry have the choice between keeping their property separate or combining their property. In the latter case, called community property, when the marriage ends by divorce each owns half; if one partner dies the surviving partner owns half and for the other half inheritance rules apply.
In some legal systems, the partners in a marriage are "jointly liable" for the debts of the marriage. This has a basis in a traditional legal notion called the "Doctrine of Necessities" whereby a husband was responsible to provide necessary things for his wife. Where this is the case, one partner may be sued to collect a debt for which they did not expressly contract. Critics of this practice note that debt collection agencies can abuse this claiming an unreasonably wide range of debts to be expenses of the marriage. The cost of defense and the burden of proof is then placed on the non-contracting party to prove that the expense is not a debt of the family.
The respective maintenance obligations, during and eventually after a marriage, are regulated in most jurisdictions; see alimony.
Some have attempted to analyze the institution of marriage using economic theory; for example, anarcho-capitalist economist David Friedman has written a lengthy and controversial study of marriage as a market transaction (the market for husbands and wives) [2].

Romantic marriage and pragmatic marriage

Pragmatic marriage
Main article: Arranged Marriage
A pragmatic (or 'arranged') marriage that is facilitated by formal procedures of family or group politics. A responsible authority sets up or encourages the marriage. The authority could be parents, family, a religious figure or a consensus. The former two often start the process with informal pressure, social pressure, whilst the latter two often start the process with a formal system or statement. In both cases, the authority has a compelling veto over the marriage, and this system is socially supported by the rest of community so that to deny it is extreme and drastic. Once declared, an engagement is implicit, which follows through with a formal marriage ceremony.
Arranged and 'pragmatic' marriages are typical of dowry-based inheritance systems. Women in these societies inherit male wealth at the time of marriage, causing the parents to have a particular interest in their daughters' marriages. These same societies demanded pre-marital chastity and kept a high degree of separation of the sexes until marriage. Modern Western marriage expectations and traditions are derived from this system of dowry-based marriage.

Pragmatic marriage contrasted to romantic marriage
Cultures that aspire to create relationships after couples marry are those with institutionalized practices of pragmatic marriage. Cultures that come to think that marriages should only be tried once a short-term compatibility already exists adopt romantic marriages.
Those who believe in romantic marriage will often criticize pragmatic marriage, considering it is oppressive, inhuman, sexist, or immoral. Defenders of pragmatic marriage disagree, often pointing to cultures where the success rate of pragmatic marriages is seen to be high, and holding that nearly all couples learn to love and care for each other very deeply.
Those who uphold pragmatic marriage frequently state that it is traditional, that it upholds social morals, that it is good for the families involved. They also have some traditional criticisms of romantic marriage, saying that it is short-term, overly based on sexual lust, or immoral. Defenders of romantic marriage would hold that it is preferable to achieve an emotional bond before entering into a lifelong commitment.

Same-sex marriage
Main article: Same-sex marriage

Same-sex unions have been recorded in the history of a number of cultures, but marriages or socially-accepted unions between same-sex partners were rare or nonexistent in other cultures. Same-sex marriage remains infrequent worldwide, especially as it is not offered in most countries. As tolerance of homosexuality has become more widespread in Western cultures, some governments allow and/or sanction marriage between same-sex couples.

Jurisdictions accepting same-sex marriage
Some countries recognize same-sex marriage, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Spain; in the United States same-sex marriage is legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. South Africa will soon have same-sex marriage.
"Registered Partnership"/"Civil Union" is operative in Denmark (including Greenland but excluding the Faeroe Islands), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Andorra, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Czech Republic and the American states of Vermont, Connecticut and California, the Australian states of Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory and some regions of Italy.
"Domestic Partnership", which give less rights than a "Civil Union"/"Registered Partnership" is operative in Hungary, Portugal, Croatia and Slovenia and in the American states of Maine, New Jersey and District of Columbia and in the Australian states of Western Australia and Queensland.
The State of Hawaii has "reciprocal beneficiaries relationship," which is a limited interpersonal status for same-sex couples. Vermont also has "reciprocal beneficiaries relationship," but this is a very different interpersonal status from the Hawaiian form. The District of Columbia also has a form of domestic partnership for same-sex couples. Legal challenges to marriage restrictions may soon expand the recognition of same-sex marriages to Washington, New York, and other states.

These developments have created a political backlash, most notably in Great Britain, where the Church of England has officially in a great discussion banned blessings of gay couples and in the United States, where several states have specifically outlawed same-sex marriage, often by popular referenda.
Most opinion polls in the United States indicate a majority oppose same-sex marriage [3][4]. Some polls report that a majority support civil unions[5], but other polls state majority favoring no legal recognition of homosexual couples[6].
At the United States federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, has created a federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, as well as allowing one state not to recognize a same sex marriage recognized by another state. Arguments have been made that the DOMA conflicts with the United States Constitution, and could conceivably be overturned on this basis. To ensure this does not happen, some, including President George W. Bush, support amending the Federal Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages.

The city of San Francisco in 2004 began sanctioning same-sex marriages despite them being explicitly illegal in California. The Supreme Court of California declared that the unions were null and void. In 2005, a bill AB19, changing California law to let same-sex couples marry, was passed by both houses of the California State Legislature and then vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. See same-sex marriage in California for more information.

Criticisms of the institution of marriage

Some commentators have been critical of marriage, sometimes condemning individual local practices and sometimes even the entire institution. A good many of the criticisms are developed from a feminist viewpoint that claims marriage can be particularly disadvantageous to women. However, there are other viewpoints from which marriage in its usual forms is problematic.

Feminist concerns
In many areas of the world, when a woman was in her early teens her father arranged a marriage for her in return for a bride price, sometimes to a man twice her age who was a stranger to her. Her older husband then became her guardian and she could be cut off almost completely from her family. The woman had little or no say in the marriage negotiations, which might even have occurred without her knowledge.
Some traditions allowed a woman who failed to bear a son to be given back to her father. This reflected the importance of bearing children and extending the family to succeeding generations.
Often both parties are expected to be virgins before their marriage, but in many cultures women were more strictly held to this standard. One old tradition in Europe, which survived into the twentieth century in rural Greece, was for this to be proven by hanging the bloody bed sheet from the wedding night from the side of the house. Similarly, sexual fidelity is very often expected in marriage, but sometimes the expectations and penalties for women have been harsher than those for men.
In some traditions marriage could be a traumatic, unpleasant turn of events for a girl. "The Lot of Women" written in Athens in the mid 5th century BC laments this situation:
Young women, in my opinion, have the sweetest existence known to mortals in their father's homes, for their innocence always keeps children safe and happy. But when we reach puberty and can understand, we are thrust out and sold away from our ancestral gods and from our parents. Some go to strange men's homes, others to foreigner's, some to joyless houses, some to hostile. And all this once the first night has yoked us to our husband we are forced to praise and say that all is well.
On the other hand, marriage has often served to assure the woman of her husband's continued support and enabled her to focus more attention on the raising of her children. This security has typically been greater when and where divorce has been more difficult to obtain.

Antiquated traditions
The remnants of older, arguably antiquated, ideas can be found in today's ceremonies and traditional practices. For example, women may be symbolically "given away" by their fathers. Some brides vow to "love and obey" their husbands and some bridegrooms vow to "care for" their wives. A groom might remove his bride's garter, a symbol of her virginity, as a public representation of his claim on her sexuality. Brides toss their bouquets towards a group of single women, who compete to catch the bouquet; the woman who catches the bouquet is believed to have the good fortune to be the next woman to get married.
One very common tradition is that of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold of their house. Investigating the origin of this tradition around 100 AD, Plutarch postulated three different possibilities. The first was that the act of picking up the bride was a symbolic re-enactment of the Rape of the Sabines. Another was that it symbolized the bride's reluctance to surrender her virginity, which she did only under duress. And the last suggested marital faithfulness - having been carried into the house by her husband she would only leave it the same way. This of course was in the context of a patriarchal culture in which it was said that a woman should only leave her house when she was so old that people would not ask whose wife she was, but whose mother. It has also been said to originate from a Roman belief that it was bad luck for a bride to stumble while entering her new home.
These traditions, though often attacked by critics and scholars, nevertheless remain a treasured part of many ceremonies, cherished by both bride and groom.

Masculinist concerns
Some commentators argue that marriage and divorce now operate in Western societies in ways that are unfair to men. [7] The divorce rate is very high, now half that of the marriage rate, [8] but only 15 per cent of men are awarded custody. This is unchanged since 1994 (cf. p. 1), and [9] annual support payments increasing 18% to $40 billion paid by 7.8 million separated parents, 6.6 million are fathers with [10] cash incentives of up to $4.1 billion available to states that create support and arrearage orders, and then collect (cf. 6B, 6C, & 6D), it may help to explain the conclusion of a [11] recent marriage report by Rutgers University. "Continuing decline of the marriage rate accompanied by an increase in the number of cohabiting couples; a small increase in the percentage of children living in fragile families and born out of wedlock; and a sharp increase among teenage boys in their acceptance of unwed childbearing and a slight decrease in agreement among teenagers, especially girls, that "living together before getting married is a good idea." says 2004 Social Health of Marriage in America. Marriage strike behavior although not explicit.
Further, during a litigated divorce child custody, paternity, alimony, child support, fathers' rights, and allegations of domestic violence create additional concerns, especially with divorce attorneys rates up to $300.00 per hour.
[12] 85% of orders of protections are awarded to females, 7% of petitions denied. Since the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act of 1995, [13] more than $1 billion spent to police and prosecutors. Divorce attorneys practice leveraging this assault charge into an order of protection to get a spouse, usually the man, out of the home, physically separating him from children and his property.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about biological sexes — male, female, etc. For alternate uses, such as the activity of sexual intercourse, see Sex (disambiguation)
Look up Sex in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.‹The template Portal has been proposed for deletion here.›     Sexuality Portal
Sex refers to the male and female duality of biology and reproduction. The somewhat similar term gender has more to do with identity than biology. The concept is confined to organisms that reproduce sexually.
The female sex is defined as the one which produces the larger gamete (i.e., reproductive cell) and which typically bears the offspring. The category of sex reflects the biological reproductive function, rather than sexuality or other behaviors. In some animals, sex may be assigned to specific structures rather than the entire organism as some species, such as earthworms, are normally hermaphroditic.

1 Sex in non-animal species
2 Sex among humans
2.1 Discordance
2.1.1 Biological varieties of discordance
2.1.2 Psychological, behavioral, and cultural varieties of discordance
2.2 Social and legal considerations
3 See also
4 External links and further reading

Sex in non-animal species
Main article: Plant sexuality
Plants are generally hermaphrodites, but this terminology is quickly complicated by variations in the degree of sexuality. As with animals, there are only two types of gametes. These are generally called male and female based on their relative sizes and motility. In flowering plants, flowers bear the gametes. In some cases, flowers may contain only one type of gamete, while in others they may contain both.
In other varieties of multicellular life (e.g. the fungi division, Basidiomycota), sexual characteristics can be much more complex, and may involve many more than two sexes. For details on the sexual characteristics of fungi, see: Hypha and Plasmogamy.

Sex among humans
See Human sexuality for information about sexual activities (having sex, making love), sexual sensation, sexual gratification, and sexual intimacy between human beings
In humans, sex is conventionally perceived as a dichotomous state or identity for most biological and social purposes, such that a person can only be female or male. However, when the criteria generally used to define femaleness and maleness are examined more closely, it becomes apparent that the assignment or determination of 'sex' occurs at multiple levels. Environmental, biological, social, psychological and other factors are all believed to have some role in this process, and the complex interaction of these factors is expressed in the diversity of biological and psychosocial 'states' or levels found amongst the human population. A significant fraction of the human population simply does not correspond exclusively to either 'female' or 'male' with regard to every level of definition expressed in the following table. This discordance is discussed in more detail below.
This table outlines the major levels at which society currently recognizes a difference between human females and males. Some criteria are dichotomous and some, such as body size, exhibit sexual dimorphism (i.e. characteristics which are statistically more likely to be found in one sex than the other). Some of the levels are more amenable to scientific study or measurement than others; some are "imputed" or assigned to individuals by the society of which they are members (e.g. whether human males must wear trousers is a result of social norms); and some seem to be generated within each individual as a subjective identity or drive.
"Primary" sexual characteristics are typically present at birth and directly involved in reproduction. "Secondary" sexual characteristics typically develop later in life (usually during puberty) and are not directly involved in reproduction.
Level of definition Female Male
Biological levels (Sex)
Primary sex characteristics (Sex)
Usual sex chromosomes XX in humans XY in humans
Usual gonads ovaries testes
Usual predominant sex hormones Estrogen, progesterone testosterone
Usual anatomy of internal genitalia clitoral crura, vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes corpora cavernosa, urethra, prostate, seminal vesicles
Usual anatomy of external genitalia glans clitoris, labia, vulva, clitoral hood, perineal urethra glans penis, scrotum, phallus, foreskin fused perineum
Secondary sex characteristics (Sex)
Image:Anne14.jpg| Usually Breasts, menstrual cycle, development of "hourglass" body form (i.e., 8), relatively shorter in height, relatively more body fat Facial and body hair, development of "triangular" body form (i.e., ?), relatively taller, relatively less body fat, relatively lower voice
Usually both sexes Pubic hair, underarm hair
Psychosocial levels (Gender)
Usual Assigned sex "It's a girl" "It's a boy"
Usual Gender of rearing "You are a girl" "You are a boy"
Usual Gender identity "I am a girl/woman" "I am a boy/man"
Usual Gender role "feminine" social behavior "masculine" social behavior
Usual sexual orientation androphilic gynephilic
The relationship between the various levels of biological sexual differentiation is fairly well understood. Many of the biological levels are said to cause, or at least shape, the next level. For example, in most people, the presence of a Y chromosome causes the gonads to become testes, which produce hormones that cause the internal and external genitalia to become male, which in turn lead parents to assign 'male' as the sex of their child (assigned sex), and raise the child as a boy (gender of rearing). However, the degree to which biological and environmental factors contribute to the psychosocial aspects of sexual differentiation, and even the interrelationships between the various psychosocial aspects of differentiation, is less well understood (see the nature versus nurture debate).
As indicated above, the levels of this paradigm imply a certain level of 'discordance' amongst the human population, as a result of diversity amongst humans.
Some discordances are purely biological, such as when the sex of the chromosomes (genetic sex) does not match the sex of the external genitalia (anatomic sex). This type of discordance is fairly well understood and is described briefly in the next section, and more fully in the article on intersex.
Discordances between the biological and psychosocial levels, such as when the gender identity does not match the anatomic sex, or between the various psychosocial levels, such as when the gender role does not match the gender identity, are even more common, but less well understood, generally speaking. These levels of definition and discordance are described below and in individual articles.
Understanding of discordance is important for several reasons. We can learn much about the processes of sexual differentiation, both biological and psychosocial, from people with biological discordances. Some of the levels of discordance have enormous significance to the lives of those affected and their relationships with society. In some cases, the causes of the discordances have acquired controversial political significance. Societies vary on the values placed on some discordances. In the last several decades, the public consensus of many Western societies has come to view some discordances as less undesirable and more tolerable than much of the rest of the world, although this view may exhibit a certain level of cultural imperialism.
Biological varieties of discordance
Human variability occurs in all the levels by which sex and gender are defined. Discordance at the biological levels is often referred to as an intersex condition. For example, some women may have an XY karyotype (chromosomal constellation); these women usually have a condition known as Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Some boys may have a rudimentary uterus, or an extra X chromosome (Klinefelter's syndrome). In a small subset of boys and girls with intersex conditions, the external genitalia may be undervirilized or overvirilized. If the degree of virilization is "in-between", the genitalia are described as "ambiguous". Many people with intersex conditions do not have ambiguous genitalia. However, for these people, the relationships between biological factors (such as hormones i.e. progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone), environmental factors, and the psychosocial levels of sexual identity, such as gender identity and sexual orientation, have proven to be complex, with numerous exceptions to proposed theoretical systems. For example, there have been cases of people with male genetic/chromosomal sex, but with female external
Psychological, behavioral, and cultural varieties of discordance
In contrast to the small percentage of people with biological discordances of sex, a fairly large proportion of human beings may be "discordant" in one or more behavioral or psychological dimensions. The vast majority of these people who are discordant in some aspect of psyche or behavior do not have any detectable biological intersex condition, although some recent studies point towards biological factors in at least some of those conditions. Human societies respond to, or accommodate, these behavioral and psychological discordances in many different ways, ranging from suppression and denial of difference to acknowledging various forms of "third sex".
It may be significant that some societies identify youths with atypical behavioral characteristics and, instead of giving them corrective therapy or punishing them, socialize them in such a way that their individual characteristics let them provide a needed and/or useful function for the society in a recognized and respected role (e.g. individuals who take on the role or customs of shaman, medicine man or tong-ki).
Pictograms of men and women are often used to indicate the respective toilets designated for each sex. An example of this in the article pictogram shows the man with broader shoulders (sex dimorphism) and the woman in clothing that is, in the western world, rarely worn by men, and which functions as a gender signal. (Presumably these "male human" and "female human" pictograms are not used in countries where men wear dress-like clothing.) In many current societies, it is considered improper for a person of one sex to misrepresent himself or herself as a member of the opposite sex by donning gender-specific clothing of that sex, thereby practicing transvestism or cross-dressing. Such behavior receives severe social and/or legal sanctions in some cultures, whilst being tolerated or even celebrated in others.
See also berdache, hijra, xanith and transgender.
Such complex situations have led some scientists to argue that the two sexes are cultural constructions. Some people have sought to define their sexuality and sexual identity in non-polar terms, in the belief that the simple division of all humans into "males" and "females" does not fit their individual conditions. A proponent of this movement away from polar oppositions, Anne Fausto-Sterling, once suggested we recognize five sexes: male, female, merm (male pseudohermaphrodite), ferm (female pseudohermaphrodite) and herm (true hermaphrodite). Although this theory was quickly rejected by many as a bizarre flouting of human nature and social reality, inimical to the interests of those whom she was attempting to champion, it expresses the difficulty and imperfection of the current social responses to these variations.

Social and legal considerations
Forms of legal or social distinction or discrimination based on sex include sex segregation and sexism. Notably, some businesses, public institutions, and laws may provide privileges and services for one sex and not another, or they may require different sexes to be physically separated. Recently, western societies have moved towards greater sexual equality.
In gender theory, the term "heteronormativity" refers to the idea that human beings fall into two distinct and complementary categories, male and female; that sexual and marital relations are normal only when between two people of different genders; and that each gender has certain natural roles in life.

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