Talk:Marriage/Archive 10

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Archive 5 Archive 8 Archive 9 Archive 10 Archive 11 Archive 12 Archive 15

Neutrality needed

I edited out the "between individuals" part of the lead sentence because this is a violation of Wikipedia standards of neutrality in that not all marriages are between individuals. Some marriages are between objects or abstract ideas, as the relationship between science and religion is often called a marriage. Whereas science and religion are not individuals and many other entities besides are not individuals which can be part of a marriage, this small clause will be omitted. The two modifiers "social" and "legal" should also be omitted in accordance with this same principle. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fffdsajkl1000432 (talkcontribs) 16:44, 17 November 2009 (UTC) This user is a sockpuppet has and has been blocked indefinitely.dαlus Contribs 22:41, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

When marriage is used in those contexts it's a metaphor (or possibly just a different definition, I'm not an english major). While I agree your changes make sense if that was the kind of marriage this article is about, I don't think thats the case. This is the type of marriage that's a social and legal contract between individuals that creates kinship, so thats really the only appropriate first sentance.Cathardic (talk) 17:17, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
I also agree with Ffdsajkl because there is no such article about those other types of marriages and hence this article should be inclusive of those as well. If this article does not have information on those types as of now then that is no matter. Just because this article has nothing on Amborigine marriages in Papua New Guinea does not mean that this article does not also include those marriages. (talk) 17:26, 17 November 2009 (UTC) (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
For proof of the revision, I have this definition from marriage- any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of words and music in a hit song. While Wikipedia is not a dictionary, the lead sentence should still be neutral and not reflect partial claims towards humanity to the exclusion of everything else. (talk) 17:33, 17 November 2009 (UTC) (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
And why leave kinship then? Surely there can't be kinship between abstract ideas? We should just eliminate the whole first sentance... or just eliminate you, because you're a sock of the blocked user Ffdsajkl101.Cathardic (talk) 17:43, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
How am I Ffdsajkl101 when clearly we have different account names and IP addresses? I may be new, but I thought it was a breach of Wikipedia protocol to use invectives against other users. Anyway, we leave kinship because even marriages between abstract ideas embody this sense of a familial (if metaphoric) relationship between the two. Give me an example of a marriage where this is not present. (talk) 17:50, 17 November 2009 (UTC) (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
So, to get this straight, you want us to trust that you are not a sock of Ffd, when this article has been so far disrupted by now three socks, making the same edits as you, talking the same way as you, and using the same arguments as you. Right. Secondly, given this past report, it is quite obvious you are Ffd, as the IP listed in that report, and found to be him, is (talk · contribs). An IP that geolocates to the exact same location as your current IP, sticking to the same range. Please, do not pass us off as stupid. It is quite clear you are him, and because of your flagrant disgard for the rules here, I am going to request that this page, and the article is protected indefinitely from users like you.— dαlus Contribs 22:57, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

This article is about the social context of marriage as we know it. If you feel a need to create an article on various other terms associated with it, then see and read WP:DAB. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 22:11, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

"...failed to recognize polygyny and polyandry..."

Hey all, I just noticed a little blurb that stood out as a bit WP:OR. In this diff, someone added this bit: "[in Webster's 1806 dictionary], marriage was defined as "the act of joining man and woman..." although this failed to recognize other types of marriages, such as Polygyny, Polyandry, etc" There is no reference supporting that statement, and indeed, you could think of "joining man and woman" to allow for bigamy. Seeing that this is a thorny article, I haven't touched it, but want some input. Thanks, WordyGirl90 23:31, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Great question, the reason I added it was due to the etymological and historical evolution of the term 'marriage.' The Webster's definition is roughly 200 years old, the term marriage is roughly 700-800 years and excluded several other types of marriages, such as polygamy (which isn't WP:OR, we know these marriages existed). I think it's an important balance because Wikipedia is not a dictionary, I could have removed the definition (on the basis that it could've been cherrypicked and thus violating WP:NPOV) but I decided to add balance. Also, as editors we have to understand the context of the sources. It's not as if this definition was the first to ever describe marriage (it defined it 600 years after it's inception), after all Noah Webster did claim that education was "useless without the Bible", that could very well have had a profound impact on the earlier editions of Websters. That's not to say that the Webster's of today isn't a legitimate source, it's just it purposely excluded the various forms of marriage during it's inception. We don't quote what an anthropologist says when he was six as opposed to when he was sixty, right? The reason we ignore the former is because it hasn't been established. If we're going to quote a source we should quote it on what it says, not what it said. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 00:20, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your response, but my original complaint still stands that we don't have evidence that Webster's old definition does, indeed, fail to include polygamy. Does anyone else wish to chime in? --WordyGirl90 19:59, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
It defined the word 'polygamy' but not under 'marriage', so it kind of did 'fail to include' those other definitions. I'm actually for removing the whole thing because it focuses on just a single dictionary written at those particular times. - Linestarz (talk) 10:46, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree with WordyGirl, there is nothing in the source that indicates the definition does not include polygamy. Several legal and anthropological definitions are of the form "one man and one woman" or "two persons"; that excludes group marriage, but not automatically polyandry and polygamy, where the spouses can be viewed as party to several marriages (each between two persons) simultaneously.--Trystan (talk) 04:54, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Section break

How about "Marriage is an agreement (or contract?) to form (or create?) a family relationship."? (talk) 04:39, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

While I personally like your inclusion of the word "family", I really don't think there's any problem with the first sentence. As discussed above, there isn't an issue with what the first sentence says, there is an issue (or non-issue) with what it doesn't say (presumably that marriage is between a man and a woman... as god intends... and that my beloved state of Massachusetts should burn in heck).Cathardic (talk) 20:08, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Wiktionary defines kinship as "relation or connection by blood, marriage or adoption." So if family being defined as "a group of people related by blood, marriage, law, or custom," isn't that more accurate than kinship? That would help with the polygamy concept, I would think. I also wonder if sexual relationship should be in there, as living together includes a sexual relationship but is missing the agreement to form a family, and dating or being engaged to be married excludes a sexual relationship while exploring the possibility of marriage. How about "Marriage is an agreement to create a family relationship and includes a sexual relationship"? Thank you, (talk) 00:39, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely not, a sexual relationship is not part of the definition of marriage. It's one of the "usually"-ies. You would then have to include "an arrangement for the purpose of minimizing taxation", "an arrangement for sheltering assets from legal threat of seizure", "a means of creating legal guardianship for infirm persons" and "a method to ensure that one person may not be compelled to testify in a court of law against another" - all of which can be motivations for marriage and none of which involve having sex.
Also, Wiktionary is not a reliable source, since I can go change the definition of marriage to "my firend Alison is teh cool" right now. However, the sources on which Wiktionary itself draws may be informative. Franamax (talk) 01:16, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I inserted a section header because this conversation seems to be about the lead, not the specific section I was bringing up above. WordyGirl90 02:04, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I think I get it. What comes after creating a kinship is up to the people involved in the marriage.Thanks. (talk) 21:29, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Removing the De Quincey quote

I have removed the quote from Confessions of an English Opium Eater as it was taken out of context and misrepresented De Quincey's statement. The passage is not a general statement about marriage; it is an observation about a specific marriage (emphasis on the portion actually quoted in the article):

All the eight persons had the advantage of youth; and the three young female servants were under the spell of fascination, such as could rarely be counted upon, from a spectacle held up hourly before their eyes, that spectacle which of all others is the most touching to womanly sensibilities, and which any one of these servants might hope, without presumption, to realize for herself - the spectacle, I mean, of a happy marriage union between two persons, who lived in harmony so absolute with each other, as to be independent of the world outside. (See here)

I question De Quincey's authority to speak in general on the nature of marriage, but in context it's plain that he has no such intent here. Mangoe (talk) 22:31, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

HistoryGuys latest edits

Again the last set of edits have removed the sources meaning by removing their clear meaning about children in the context of male-female unions. The changes to the history section transposes quotes from different books. And the removal of referenced text stating that "it belongs in another section" and then not moving it there comes off as an excuse to remove it because "I don't like it" Hardyplants (talk) 03:10, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

If I'm doing what you're accusing me of then why haven't I removed the Webster's definition? Or the Notes and Queries definition? And why did I replace the Edvard Westermarck with what he currently see's it as (that is from man and woman to men and women)? You can't just quote one part of his sentence and then finish it off with your POV, sorry, refer to WP:NOR. You also said: "And the removal of referenced text stating that "it belongs in another section" and then not moving it there comes off as an excuse to remove it because "I don't like it"" - - excuse me, my job isn't to move something into another section simply because I know it doesn't belong in that particular section. It's the same when you believe something requires a citation, it isn't YOUR JOB to add one, such tags exist for a reason. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 03:55, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

The quote is not in the book you put it under, that edit again messed up the material by moving things around and disjointing them from the sources used in the references ( this make wikipedia look bad when reference do not support the text they are connected to. The other text belongs in the history section as it was/is the historical foundation of the legal system of most of the English speaking countries of the world. Hardyplants (talk) 04:04, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

With the recent edits, the Anthropological definitions section has become inaccurate in several ways. It now cites a definition to The History of Human Marriage that isn't found there. Instead, the definition given is taken from The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization. It then says Westermarck abandoned this second definition, which we have no evidence of. Finally, the article linked in footnote 14 is just an excerpt from the book already cited in footnote 13.
The definition Westermarck did abandon, which was in the earlier version of the article, is indeed found in the The History of Human Marriage. That definition was notable enough to attract considerable attention and Westermarck explicitly revisited it, explicitly saying "I defined marriage as..." I think that makes it notable enough for inclusion. Remember, we're looking for notable definitions here, not correct ones. The fact that he later abandoned it is not reason to exclude it.
The Future of Marriage definition is certainly a candidate for inclusion as well, but there is no basis for removing the earlier one.--Trystan (talk) 04:41, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Just as an added question, I don't understand this edit. I summarized the following text:
As for the origin of the institution of marriage, I consider it probable that it has developed out of a primeval habit. It was, I believe, even in primitive times, the habit for a woman and a woman (or several women) to live together, to have sexual relations with one another, and to rear their offspring in common, the man being the protector and supporter of his family and the man being his helpmate and the nurse of their children. This habit was sanctioned by custom, and afterwards by law, and was thus transformed into a social institution. In order to trace marriage in its legal sense to its ultimate source, we must therefore try to find out the origin of the habit from which it sprang.
as Edvard Westermarck proposed that "the institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval habit" of mating and child rearing that was subsequently sanctioned by custom and then by law. How does that constitute original research?--Trystan (talk) 04:47, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
It constitutes OR because looking at his full text it goes far beyond mating and child rearing, as the source I'm looking at are his actual books, not summarizations of them. It goes along the lines of "The institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval habit, p. 27 sq. — The relations between the sexes and parental care among the Inverte- brata, p. 28. — Among Fishes, p. 29. — Among Reptiles, ibid. — Among Birds, p. 29 sq. — Among the lower Mammals, p. 30 sq." etc etc, why not summarize the points with what he's said in his book, taking everything into context? -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 05:27, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
This is a bogus justification for your change - look at this source again - the old text was a correct. [1]. Hardyplants (talk) 06:27, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Since when do fish and birds get married? why would we summarize those sections in an article about marriage? Hardyplants (talk) 06:16, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
That's exactly the point I'm making, that is the full context of Westermarck's definition and all the sudden it sounds weird and strange doesn't it? Which goes back to the original point I'm making, you can't just summarize his definition for him as to how you see fit. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 06:26, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Historyguys "correction" did not fix anything, it still leaves in a false and confused reference trail, conflating two different sources that are 15 years apart. It also has not resolved incompleteness of the text, because it does not explain the former definition he "rejected"/corrected. Hardyplants (talk) 06:10, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
You're very good at saying "you're wrong" but you're not very good at proving it, so tell me exactly what is wrong with it? Westermarck defined his idea of marriage, then reverted it. So what I did, like any other editor, is quote what *he* believes marriage to be (and I quote the latest work he's done, not select something in the middle). Then I referenced the idea that he did, in fact, change his idea of what marriage once and had admitted that no definition could fit all. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 06:28, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Ok, your still not getting the problem, your quote has a reference to his older definition, so people that go and check the source will find different text. The edit and the "fixs" just made a mess of the references and the text leaves a lot of questions. Hardyplants (talk) 06:37, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

The text should be something like this

"In his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female, lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring,"[12] but after criticisms he recognized that this definition was imprecise, not taking into account that not all people that have children are married or that all married people have children; he later defined marriage to be "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognised by custom or law".[13]"

This text does not leaves the reader wondering what his older definition was (which was very influential) and his later definition, and why he changed. Hardyplants (talk) 06:49, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

First of all, what proof do you have that Westermarck's definition was "influential"? What does that even mean? Also, your summary doesn't accurately reflect his change, ie: "These rights and duties vary among different peoples and cannot, therefore, all be included in a general definition; but there must, of course, be something that they have in common. Marriage always implies the right of sexual intercourse: society holds such intercourse allowable in the case of husband and wife, and, generally speaking, regards it as their duty to gratify in some measure the other partner's desire. But the right to sexual inter-course is not necessarily exclusive: there are polyandrous, polygynous, and group-marriages, and even where monogamy is the only legal form of marriage, adultery committed by the husband is not always recognised as a ground for dissolving the union." -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 13:28, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
It looks like maybe you missed the fact that its not my summary, but yours unchanged word for word as you made it; so you are agreeing that you edit was a poor one and should be reverted? Hardyplants (talk) 04:05, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
the original edit by historyguy was wrong, but I cant see what's wrong with the current one, or am I wrong? - Linestarz (talk) 06:05, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Most critically, the definition given is from The Future of Marriage, but the cite (Footnote 12) is to the earlier work The History of Marriage. As well, footnotes 13 & 14 are the same source, with 13 being the cite to the original book and 14 being a URL to an excerpt of it. More as a matter of opinion, it seems needlessly cryptic to mention the abandonment of the History of Marriage definition without saying what that definition was.
As HistoryGuy says, Westermarck "change[d] his idea of what marriage once and had admitted that no definition could fit all." That was essentially what I was trying to get across. Westermarck does give a definition in The Future of Marriage (the definition currently in the article incorrectly cited to The History of Marriage), but he doesn't really put it forward as a universal definition, he just says it may commonly be defined that way and that is the meaning he will use throughout the book. This makes sense in context, since he just finished backtracking from his earlier definition. This is a summary section covering a lot of ground in a few paragraphs, so I thought it made the most sense to include his earlier definition which had received a lot of attention in the form of criticism, and simply state that he himself abandoned it. Without too much editorializing, I think that supports the general theme of the section, that no attempts to pin down a specific definition have met with widespread acceptance.
In any case, I'll leave it to other editors to sort out. Take care.--Trystan (talk) 06:32, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that mentioning the abandonment of the earlier book made no sense, but it was there before I originally edited anything. I didn't want to remove it explicitly because editors then may get the idea that I'm trying to push a POV, so I left it as is while updating to his current definition and linking to his earlier one. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 23:55, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
I've made one last attempt to correct the glaring error of citing the Future of Marriage definition to the History of Marriage, and to remove the unneccesary duplicate citation to the text of Future of Marriage'.--Trystan (talk) 18:48, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I'll leave it as is, really isn't that important. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 21:40, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Kinship and Affinity (law)

The lede currently links to kinship which is appropriate and accurate from an anthropology perspective. But it is apparently confusing to biologists not familiar with how anthropologists use the term. The Affinity (law) article follows the anthropology usage. That article also makes clear the subtle point that the kinship created is between the marriage participants and their in-laws, not between the marriage participants themselves. (People aren't "spouses-in-law", they are just plain spouses.) Would it improve the article to work this into it somewhere? Or is it too much detail? (sdsds - talk) 01:04, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Not at all. I think the kinship wording would be less problematic if it were clearer about exactly what sort of kinship is created. Mangoe (talk) 18:19, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

The use of the word kinship in this article is completely incorrect. The English teachers in my school use this webpage to teach kids why they shouldn't use wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:40, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

last time, lede edit

This is hopefully the last time I will have to address this issue. All I want to do is change "individuals" to "men and women" which can include marriages that are not between a man and a woman-polygamy, polyandry, polygyny, polyamory, or whatever else. I see no reason why "individuals" has to be kept when "men and women" can resolve all our problems by hinting at the core complementary aspect that is a part of a marriage and by being as broad and as inclusive as possible. What is the problem with this? (talk) 04:22, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

"Individuals" covers all types of marriages as well, so if that's what you're shooting for, why would that be problematic? There are marriages out there that only involve one gender, "men and women" implies that it always involves both. Seraphimblade Talk to me 04:49, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
That is the point. We need to at least allude to the complementary nature of marriage somewhat. In history, there have been polygamous and monogamous societies so we account for all those. Marriages, however, that do not have "both" sexes in them represent a very very small percent of all marriages in history and across cultures and there are separate articles dedicated to them--in fact a section in this very article. We need not overgeneralize the lede sentence to the point where it becomes meaningless. (talk) 04:59, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Why is "individuals" meaningless? It is the narrowest definition that is also factually correct. - Vianello (Talk) 05:44, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
User has been blocked for vandelism -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 14:29, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh my goodness! How come everyone is so big on making the lede sentence as vague as possible? What is with that? I looked through the archives and there have been plenty of people who have been shot down just because they want to tell the truth about marriage including someone in this section who was shot down and destroyed and not even given an adequate response as to why "men and women" should not be in the lede sentence. There is a separate article for "same-sex marriage" and a separate section in this article and most lexicons maintain that same-sex marriage is like "marriage" but between two people of the same sex. Why is this controversial? No where in the whole intro is it mentioned this most basic fact about marriage with the result that people are led to believe that marriage is not complementary in nature and is just some sort of legal document or public declaration of love. Why should we not include this in the intro and why should all of it be left out? (talk) 22:04, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh my goodness! because! that's how Wikipedia works! How many times are you going to get blocked before you understand this concept? A Consensus is achieved through active contributions and alternations via several editors, not because some random IP whines in the discussion every 3 days. It's not only that your edits are factually incorrect, it's the idea that you "think" your right which is the problem. Do you know how many edits I'd like to have made to this article yet I adhere to WP:CONSENSUS despite what *I* think. This is what's led to the accuracy and improvements in so many articles on Wikipedia, maybe you should understand that first before vandalizing articles with your POV. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 03:57, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

WP:OR on Webster

The claim about what Webster meant in the phrase "the act of joining man and woman" is opinion. One might expect that he saw monogamy as normative (that is, morally obligated), but it does not seem to me that the phrase requires the interpretation of the word as excluding polygamy. Webster certainly knew of such practices, as they appear in the bible in a number of quite familiar stories. An interpretation of his definition that doesn't leave room for Jacob, Leah, and Rachel isn't likely to reflect his own usage.

But this is all somewhat beside the point. A more serious problem, at least from the point of view of WP:V, is that there's no citation for this interpretation. It's a little questionable to refer to his definition even in pointing out the novelty of same-sex marriage; we really need a citation for that too. Mangoe (talk) 12:31, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree on the point about it not necessarily excluding polygamy. There are anthropological definitions of the same format (such as Notes and Queries' "union between a man and a woman") that are specifically formulated to include polygamy. It's long since been deleted, but we used to have a nice little legal definitions section that outlined the British common law definition used in many countries around the world. It adds "to the exclusion of all others" to outlaw polygamy, because legally just saying "the union of a man and a woman" isn't considered to exclude polygamous or potentially polygamous marriages. Regardless, the default WP position is not to argue the merits of who is right, but to remove a challenged claim unless a reliable source can be found to justify it.--Trystan (talk) 19:07, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
The terms "man" and "woman" are singular, it isn't OR to reference its exclusion of polygamous marriages as most people reading such a definition would not interpret it that way. Why are we using a premature version of Webster's anyway that defined a word 600 years after it's inception? I thought I'd save a lot of arguments by simply leaving it at that and appended it to remove confusion (because let's be frank here, the average reader will see 'joining of man and woman' and interpret it as monogamous). -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 21:49, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
We have no way of knowing what most people would think on reading the definition. As for why the definition is included at all, I do not know. If it was part of a broader survey of dictionary definitions it would make sense, but on its own, it just seems random.--Trystan (talk) 00:05, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm inclined to take the whole section out, save for the anthropological material. Mangoe (talk) 14:32, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
The Confucious quote is one no one's had a problem with, but the dictionary definition is something I don't mind leaving in as long as we have many versions and varieties there. Nonetheless I havent seen many articles on here with several dictionary definitions together. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 20:39, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

I've edited the phrase to be a concrete statement, rather than sounding like interpretation. It now reads "...although this dictionary entry did not explicitly recognize other types of marriages, such as polygyny and polyandry". The copy of the 1806 dictionary supports this statement. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 05:01, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

When you say "other types of marriage" -- other than what? If the definition doesn't entail monogamy (as WordyGirl, Mangoe, and myself have pointed out), how can polygamy be an "other type of marriage"?--Trystan (talk) 05:21, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Then how would you word it? By removing the word other? "...although this dictionary entry did not explicitly recognize some types of marriages such as polygyny and polyandry." Or perhaps "...did not explicitly recognize less common types of marriages such as polygyny and polyandry."? Pick what you like; I feel that the dictionary's failure to explicitly recognize controversial forms of marriage is worth noting. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 05:57, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I've changed it to read "...did not explicitly recognize controversial forms of marriage...". I assume that it's safe to say that polygyny and polygamy are controversial. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 06:04, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I think my problem is really with the underlying point, rather than the wording. If "the act of joining man and woman" is meant to describe both monogamous and polygamous marriages, there wouldn't be any particular reason to explicitly mention polygamy. It doesn't explicitly mention monogamy either. Attaching significance to the failure to mention polygamy - without a reliable source to back up that interpretation - crosses into original research, IMO.
The current OED, for example, doesn't explicitly mention polygyny or polyandry, but does explicitly mention same-sex marriage and group marriage. This is presumably because polygyny and polyandry are considered to be covered by the general definition, while the other forms are not. Based solely on that, and without a reliable source to back up the claim, I would be very hesitant to suggest that the OED definition is deficient, as we are suggesting with Webster's.--Trystan (talk) 06:50, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Man and Woman are singular and it is assumed monogamous. Say for instance I told you "I'm married to a man", you wouldn't ask me how many, you'd assume there was one, correct? -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 22:38, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I've also changed the word "controversial" to "other types" using the same sentence currently in the article. I don't see how these other terms were controversial, though I can see why they were different. Though if the other editors feel controversial is a better use, then I can't really complain, what do you guys think? -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 22:41, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
The reason I originally replaced "other" with "controversial" was due to the concern "other than what?" which is not stated in the sentence. That non-monogamous marriages were and are controversial seems obvious to me; this is illustrated by Polygamy#Legal situation, which states: "Most western countries do not recognize polygamous marriages, and consider bigamy a crime." ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 05:12, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Universally, it should be listed as a man and a woman, as this is the most obvious and direct definiton. Individuals sounds very sterile and has historically been this way for 6,000 years.OscarMilde (talk) 05:33, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

STOP with your homophobic edits! It's old and tired! CTJF83 GoUSA 05:46, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Forgetting that, he's just dead wrong. Webster defines marriage by whatever definition was common at the time the book was published. Legally speaking, marriage is whatever the law defines it to be. Meanwhile, there have been "spiritual" same-sex marriages for a long time. The law is starting to catch up. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:50, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Concur, just because there are a few people that are anti-gay, doesn't mean Wikipedia needs to be CTJF83 GoUSA 05:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
"A" man and "a" woman is also factually incorrect, as for example some prominent Bible figures who had multiple wives. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps then "between multiple individuals?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by OscarMilde (talkcontribs) 06:15, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

"Individuals" is inherently multiple, being a plural. Even if it weren't, one could not have something between one individual, as "between" implies at least two things to be between. - Nat Gertler (talk) 07:03, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree on the individuals definition by Nat, although based on this edit [2] and claim of consensus, I doubt this discussion is helping to clear things up for OM. Dayewalker (talk) 07:08, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Inaccuracy, edits

This sentence is totally wrong: "Beginning in the 1500s it was unlawful for a woman younger than 20 years of age to marry." Even today you can be married at age 16 in most European nations. In the 1500s, the age of consent in England was lowered from 12 to 10.

The age of consent in the State of the Vatican City remains age 12. [1] [2]

I'm editing the sentence "From age, to race, to sexual orientation, to gender, to social status, restrictions are placed on marriage..." to include consanguinity, which is an important restriction, and to remove "sexual orientation," because restrictions based on "gender" have enough overlap to make a second term unnecessary.

Is it true, as this statement implies, that a marriage would cease to be recognized if one partner had a sex change? This may or may not be true in some States of the USA but it is clearly not universally true. Unless this can be confirmed internationally then restrictions on gender and restrictions on sexual orientation would not be identical. --Tediouspedant (talk) 00:03, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

The sentence "The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allows states to ignore same-sex unions from other states" is true based on the wording of the law, but arguably wrong overall because even before DOMA, states could already pass laws against recognizing marriages from other states as they chose. (See here.) I will add a qualification. Khin2718 (talk) 16:33, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Note: I deleted a bunch of material under Marriage law that was redundant. Please do not restore this material; it is now covered under the section "Marriage restrictions." Khin2718 (talk) 18:11, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Getting rid of most of definitions

I've removed everything but the anthropological from the "definitions" section because it seems pretty clear that we can't agree on what it all means. It might make sense to re-add the material about S-S recognition in modern dictionaries down in that part of the article, but the endless backing-and-forthing about Webster is a strong sign that the material isn't in there for a good reason. I just don't think his very brief phrase supports the detail of analysis that it is being made to bear, and without that analysis there's no real reason to include the passage; given the persistent disagreement I do not think we can attach any real reliability to what is really being used not as an overall definition of marriage, but to make a particular point about social mores which anyone familiar with Genesis can reasonably doubt that Webster specifically intended. At any rate, this is the wrong place in the article for it; better to go directly to the anthropologists. Mangoe (talk) 05:17, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Well said. Though I initially reverted your section blanking, I do tend to agree with your line of thought here. I restored the Confucius quote to the section in a quote box, sans the parenthetical clarifier. The statement seems non-controversial, and relevant to the section. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 06:36, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

US-centric sections

I just axed the Statistics section because it was all US-centric, giving the US undue weight in this general article (if anyone's actively working on Marriage in the United States, they may want to see if the figures would be of use there). At least two other sections have this concern. The "Societal Concerns" section is simply a (controversial) head of the "Institute for American Values" discussing his interpretation of US statistics, causing undue weight both on the basis of the single view and on the US focus. The Controversy section looks at the same-sex marriage issue solely through US eyes; it could use fewer specifics on the US situation and more on the worldwide situations, where various countries are instituting or considering same-sex marriage, generally with at least some local controversy. - Nat Gertler (talk) 05:38, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Group marriage

I am not necessarily opposed to including group marriage, but I did find out that it was extremely rare. One guy found it in only one out of 250 societies surveyed, and I don't think it's legally recognized anywhere. It seems possible that recognizing this is not a "significant" view per WP:NPOV. I am making this section to hear opinions on that. In the lede, "individuals" could be changed to "two individuals" depending on what we decide. Khin2718 (talk) 00:18, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm missing what advantage is gained by changing the definition from one that works under all the conditions to one that creates exceptions for group marriage and arguably polygamy. This is particularly true because I don't seen anything problematic that the existing definition would seem to include that the "two individuals" defintion would exclude, so adding the "two" would not actually make things more precise. - Nat Gertler (talk) 00:29, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Nat. Gay marriage is rare too, but I hope you wouldn't advocate it's removal too. CTJF83 chat 05:51, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Ok, but just to point out a distinction between those two topics, gay marriage is legally recognized somewhere. Even if some practice was recognized in only one country, I would say it is definitely significant, but if in no country, that seems more questionable. Khin2718 (talk) 06:44, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Do you by chance have any reference it isn't recognized anywhere? All I know is those lovely mormons who I love so much who participate in it. CTJF83 chat 07:40, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
In this case, what I mean by group marriage is where more than one man and more than one woman are all married to each other. In mere polygyny, say, you can still view a marriage as between only two people, it's just that the man has many marriages.
I actually don't know for sure if that's legally recognized anywhere, but it seems highly dubious. Khin2718 (talk) 08:14, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
While some definitions definitely do include polygyny and polyandry while referring to two individuals, the later anthropologists we cite in the article tend to favour referring to multiple individuals, such as "a woman and one or more other persons." I don't know whether this is simply a trivial semantic difference or if reflects some underlying point about how polygamous marriages work in various cultures.--Trystan (talk) 18:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
I think this is true and it seems to advise against changing the lede. But in fact the point you make itself is probably worth noting elsewhere. Does each wife in, say, a polygynous union have her own marriage or do they all share one big marriage? If sources differ it might be worth contrasting them. Khin2718 (talk) 00:53, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Hypothetically even if group marriage were completely fictional (it's not -- real group marriages do exist) that would not exclude it from being covered in this article. The well-known form of group marriage called line marriage probably only exists within the science fiction novel, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and derivative utopian works. Yet our article would be improved by a mention of this concept, because doing so would shed valuable light on the functions of real-world marriages! (sdsds - talk) 02:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)


I have a question about the phrase in the first paragraph of the article stating that "the marital structure created is known as wedlock." As I understand it, wedlock is primarily the "state" or "condition" of being marriage. What is meant here by "structure"? A quick search of the Oxford English Dictionary also shows that wedlock is now an archaic term in common parlance -- that is outside of some legal contexts (and in fiction of course). Anyway I thought I would bring this up because the current phrasing makes it seem like it is a common term with a technical meaning distinguishing it from "marriage", "matrimony" and other synonyms through further specificity. I apparently cannot make any changes to this myself.Griswaldo (talk) 14:21, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

The term "wedlock" is not that outside of common parlance, although it seems mainly to exist in the negative ("out of wedlock"). There seems to be a subtle distinction in proper use between it and marriage, with "marriage" being the unification and "wedlock" being the unified result (similar to, say, the difference between "mixed" and "mixture".) There is an argument to be made for removing the term from the lede altogether. - Nat Gertler (talk) 19:09, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I am still not sure what "structure" is supposed to mean exactly. The closest definition I can find in the Oxford English Dictionary for wedlock that jives with what is described just above is definition #2: "The condition of being married; marriage as a state of life or as an institution; matrimonial relationship. Now only in literary or legal use" and particularly a sub definition to definition #2 "c. In particularized sense: A matrimonial union; a married life." Apparently the OED thinks it is important to stress that it is only used in literary or legal use, which supports the idea that it is no longer common. Of course the OED also mentions that when it is used it is in the "out of wedlock", as you suggest: "b. born in (or under), out of wedlock: said distinctively of legitimate or illegitimate offspring. Now the most frequent use of the n." The much less detailed dictionary, Merriam Webster, has only one definition: "the state of being married," and it then goes on to define out of wedlock: "with the natural parents not legally married to each other." If one has a look at the many current definitions and usages of marriage itself (in the OED or another dictionary) one would see all of the previous usages of wedlock covered by them (which the exception of the specific phrase "out of wedlock"). I would use the mixture analogy in support of what the OED suggests. My impression of at least current American English usage is that what results from two people getting married is simply a marriage (much like what results from two ingredients being mixed is a mixture). It might make sense only to mention the term in the "out of wedlock" usage with while explaining that "wedlock" was commonly used to refer to instances of the matrimonial relationship itself in the past. Does that make sense?Griswaldo (talk) 23:17, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure in what sense the OED is using "literary"; it is certainly used a lot in the written form, and Google points me to hundreds of recent news stories using it... most commonly in out-of-wedlock, but with a fair amount of "in wedlock" as well (often - but not always - again referring to the status of offspring). It has more news hits than "matrimony". Having said that, I am again unconvinced that the term deserves any place in the opening paragraphs. - Nat Gertler (talk) 03:19, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Can we remove it? I'm fairly certain the OED means literary in the sense of 'English literature" -- poetry, novels, short fiction, etc.. Antiquated terms are not uncommon in literature either to reflect the language of a certain period or for aesthetic purposes. But you are right that the OED does not call "out of wedlock" antiquated, though my take is exactly that the word is used in common parlance only within that phrase. Though I could be reading the definitions incorrectly.Griswaldo (talk) 21:04, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Fine by me. - Nat Gertler (talk) 22:08, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Evolution of Marriage: Clear historical trends ignored

The History section fails to outline several clear historical trends in the evolution of the institution of marriage - in particular in the gradual evolution of the western tradition from its early Judaic roots to modern times. This may possibly be a consequence of theological censorship by some contributors wishing to present the institution as an ancient and fixed tradition. Four historical trends in particular deserve attention:

a) From a property transaction between two families to a contract between two marriage partners: According to the earliest biblical records marriage was a property transaction between a father of one or more women or girls and the family of a man of his choosing. The women or girls were "given away" by the father in exchange for a dowry of 20 shekels of silver and ownership was transferred from the father to the husband. In later times fathers increasingly began to take into consideration the wishes of the daughters, then daughters began to suggest husbands to their fathers and ultimately fathers lost the legal right to prevent their daughters marrying a partner of their own choosing. Meanwhile the dowry, originally the heart of the transaction, became merely symbolic and eventually disappeared altogether.
b) From a hierarchical relationship to a relationship between equals: In the earliest biblical records wives were clearly the property of husbands. Virtually identical property laws applied to both wives and slaves. Both could be bought, both could be beaten violently as long as they survived. Both were inherited by the oldest brother on the death of the husband. Whilst many of these traditions died out centuries ago, the duty of the woman to "serve and obey" the husband continued almost up to present times. The unequal relationship implicit in polygamy has given way to the more egalitarian model of monogamy. Legally, the concept that rape and violence within marriage is a crime has only gained recognition in western nations in recent decades - as has the legal recognition that both partners are equal owners of shared property and have equal financial rights.
c) From a functional reproductive duty to a relationship based upon mutual love: In the earliest records marriages were arranged for life by a father and his family to carry on the family name and to increase the size and power of his family and tribe. Women, as property, served a primarily reproductive function. Wealthy men could buy several wives and had a right to divorce wives who proved to be barren and unproductive. In later times marriage has become far less functional, the aspirations of parents and family elders has played a declining role and marriages are increasingly seen as ceremonies to mark the mutual love of two individuals. When love ceases to be present in the relationship the right of either partner to divorce is now generally respected.
d) From a relationship restricted to specific social categories to one based solely upon the informed and mutual consent of any two adults: There is a clear historic trend over several centuries to progressively remove social barriers to marriage based upon tribe, social class, race, religion and gender. This transition occurred in parallel with the emergence of the concepts of individual human rights and equality irrespective of social class, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The emergence of these rights was accompanied by a growing respect for the wishes of the partners themselves, which increasingly took priority over the wishes of their families, their government and their religious institutions. Compulsory arranged marriages and child marriages have progressively disappeared. The modern concept of marriage is based upon the understanding that it requires the full consent of both partners and that any two partners old enough to consent to marriage are entitled to marry. --Tediouspedant (talk) 18:44, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
And your list of reliable sources and suggestions for specific changes or improvements is...? Franamax (talk) 01:11, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
How about these three for a start: --Tediouspedant (talk) 16:59, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Witte, John, Jr. (1997). From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664255434
Yalom, Marilyn. (2002). A History of the Wife. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0060931566
Coontz, Stephanie. (2005). Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. Viking. ISBN 067003407X --Tediouspedant (talk) 16:59, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Are you sure those books make the arguments you have made above. Witte's historical narrative does not start in biblical times but in 13th Century Europe. The title is also misleading because he clearly shows how the contractual nature of marriage has been part of the Christian theological and legal tradition since at least the 13th Century (probably much earlier). It simply was not the focal point that it is today. Witte also shows how secular and religious elements are part of the entire trajectory of Western marriage, and remain so today. In other words, our current legal understandings of marriage in the West are not simply a product of a secular Enlightenment project but of Christian thought. In his last chapter Witte is also not all that cheery about the transformation of marriage in late modernity. Other problems involve the fact that Witte's historical data is almost exclusively taken from the development of doctrine and theology, and (as he explicitly states) not from what can be surmised about the practice of marriage itself. What exactly did you propose this book supports of the above? Personally I think there is no denying the fact that the institution of Western marriage has changed drastically over the years. Maybe if you show how a specific piece of information is supported by a source that is a better starting point? Just a suggestion.Griswaldo (talk) 21:49, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Yalom & Coontz certainly make these claims. I have only read abstracts of Witte's claims so would be happy to remove him as a source for my claims. My claims accord with the dominant interpretation of social trends during the times of Renaissance Humanism (ref: Jacob Burckhardt The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy ) and the Age of Enlightenment (refs Ernst Cassirer Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel A Revolution of the Mind - Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy) and with the more recent general history of the Civil Rights movement (ref A. C. Grayling Towards The Light and Feminism. I invite other contributors to add references as I don't have time but agree that these would certainly be welcome. None of the critics of my interpretation have cited any sources to challenge my position. --Tediouspedant (talk) 13:33, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I apologize for being a broken record but I think the thing to do is to actually show how these sources make such claims. I am unsure of what you mean when you say that your "claims accord with the dominant interpretation of social trends during the times of Renaissance Humanism". Do you mean that your claims about the development of marriage accord with the claims made *by* Enlightenment Era thinkers *about* pre-Enlightenment history? Or do you mean that they accord with how contemporary historians view social trends during the Age of Enlightenment? Please help me understand what you mean in this regard. Enlightenment thinkers would not be reliable sources for history because of how dated they are. Also, your claims encompass a period of time far greater than the Age of Enlightenment so the second option clearly confuses me as well. Of course the main point here is that I think people need verification from these sources not just a claim that they support you. As you can see Witte doesn't support your sweeping claims.Griswaldo (talk) 20:51, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Marriage originated long before Christianity existed (or Judaism for that matter). Western marriage is nothing more than an adaptation of marriages that had already existed around the world, and since this article talks about marriage entirely (and not a microcosm) I wouldn't understand the need for these additions. Also, you mention several things like "Meanwhile the dowry, originally the heart of the transaction, became merely symbolic and eventually disappeared altogether." - despite this not being sourced, even if included would be a great way to point out how marriage (and it's definition) have changed hundreds of times throughout history. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 19:29, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
The trends I describe not only apply to the four continents of the western world and their Judaeo-Christian roots (hardly a "microcosm") but are also substantially true in relation to India and China and to anywhere where the concepts of personal freedom and individual human rights have emerged. Yes, marriage originated long before Christianity and Judaism existed but those ancient forms of marriage still fit the trends that I have described. --Tediouspedant (talk) 12:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
How far back in history can you source a marriage? You'll see my point to this question after you answer. -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 19:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Long-term pairings are observed in other primates and must have occurred in our own primate ancestors. In many primates the dominant male obtains and defends a permanent harem of fertile females. This kind of arrangement was and is observed in most surviving neolithic tribal societies and will have occurred in similar forms in our own neolithic ancestors. This is clearly the root of the patriarchal inter-family polygamous tribal transaction found throughout most early civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China - as well as in the Old Testament tradition from which the Judaic, Christian and Islamic forms developed. --Tediouspedant (talk) 19:34, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
one problem that I have with the above analyses is that you make the mistake of assuming that what the biblical texts describe in way of interpersonal interactions are some type of proscribed way of doing something. But it fails to take in to account that these are cultural norms, long established, that predate the encounters recorded with in the biblical texts. The bible does not establish these interactions as the way to do things but records what occurred, generally after the fact. Keep in mind that historical events occur generally long after cultural norms are established, 99% of history occurs within an already established cultural meliue and only a very small number of historical events establish new cultural directions. Hardyplants (talk) 23:13, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree with this analysis. I did not claim that the Bible established these traditions (which were probably long-established and very widespread), but merely that they provide clear confirmation that these were the norm at that time, that we know that they are no longer the norm in the western world and that between then and now there has been a process of evolution of the concept of marriage. Critics of my claims, who state that I cite no sources, ignore the fact that the Bible itself is our principal source of information about that time and place and that, whilst there is evidence to question many claims in the Bible, no one seriously challenges the view that it's books give a fairly accurate overview of social customs at the times they were written. --Tediouspedant (talk) 13:18, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I really think you ought to consider the suggestion I made above about clearly showing how important sources discuss these topics. I see a lot of assumptions and generalizations being made here that I would not myself make. On the other hand I'm sure that many of the people here would be swayed by some of them should they have the backing of experts in the field. Good luck.Griswaldo (talk) 19:59, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Just like Griswaldo mentioned, you don't source anything but rather "assume." Nonetheless, if we assumed everything is true we can clearly see the origins are unknown, when historians (or anthropologists) say "probably came about from..." they purposely leave it open-ended in order to legitimize their claims without assuming certitude, which is the honest way of evaluating something like marriage. The part of your post I disagree with is the "as well as in the Old Testament tradition from which the Judaic, Christian and Islamic forms developed.", this is clearly incorrect as the timescale and evolution of these religions is so far after the marriage roots (as we know them) that they don't apply. One other thing, if we were to assume that marriage was the root developed for the sake of propagation then we must ask ourselves why monogamy (or even consent laws for that matter) would have been necessary. If the goal was to simply have children then impregnating those who've just hit puberty and doing so as much as possible would have been it's purpose, far be it from the concept we have today -- Historyguy1965 (talk) 21:23, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
You have missed the essence of all the trends I have described. The trends are all FROM a purely functional biological institution in which individuals (especially females) are subservient to the authority of the elders and to the needs of the primate troop or neolithic or bronze age tribe (including the Old Testament tribes and their equivalents in India & China and other emerging civilizations) TO a contract that respects and serves the needs of the couple themselves, that recognizes their rights and that treats them as free and equal. Developments in this direction can be observed throughout the period from say 500BC to the present, but the most significant changes probably relate to the rise of Renaissance Humanism and to the subsequent Age of Enlightenment that championed the ideas of the Rights of Man; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; Liberty, Equality & Fraternity. --Tediouspedant (talk) 21:46, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Renaissance Humanism and the subsequent Age of Enlightenment was a a step backwords for female rights especial in marriage, since those espousing such enlightenment views idolized Ancient Greek and Roman ways. Woman had more privilages in the Middle Ages than they did after the Enlightenment. Hardyplants (talk) 22:32, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Hardyplants - Read the major Age of Enlightenment text "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (especially the bits on marriage) by Mary Wollstonecraft, which was published in 1790, a year before Thomas Paine's "The Rights of Man". Christian Conservatives may still argue that wives had more rights when they were kept in the kitchen than they now have in the workplace and in government - but this is clearly a minority view, especially among women. --Tediouspedant (talk) 14:23, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Tediouspedant why compare apples to turnips, the notion that the development of ideas has some type of linear progression is a figment of 19th century (enlightenment) ideals. The reality is that ideas and cultural expressions changed over time because of many different influences. The Church had both positive and negative effects on marriage rights and any of its actions are of course a result of cultural tensions it responded too within the time frame it was acting in. So what point are you trying to make by comparing current womans rights verses what was true 500 or 1000 years ago? Any direct comparison in regards to simplistic cause and effect is not proper historical analysis. Compared to today, womans right were terrible during the middle ages, during the classical period and after the Renaissance, But in each period they differed but they also were not static during each period ether. Hardyplants (talk) 22:50, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that the contemporary notion that "women (do or do not) belong in the kitchen" has any meaning whatsoever to a social history of the European Middle Ages. By today's standards (which are ludicrous to apply in this manner of course) I'm sure women in the Middle Ages had less "rights" than they do today. But how many "rights" did a vast majority of men in the middle ages have? I'm sure women of nobility had a lot more "rights" than men of the peasantry. Using post-Enlightenment notions of human rights to compare a pre-Enlightenment era of European history to this one is unproductive at best. My point is not to defend any political position here, but to point out that this is not a productive conversation. None of this matters of course if expert sources of history are utilized. Tediouspendant, once again I would suggest that you refer to such sources because I'm not sure this very generalized discussion is getting anywhere.Griswaldo (talk) 17:51, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

It would be great if the article could make the assertion (and defend it with reliable sources) that some aspects of how society treats marriage have changed over time. It would be important to avoid making the claim that marriage has "progressed" or "evolved (forward)." "Changed" is as much as can be defended in a relatively unbiased way. But also please avoid making the claim that marriage itself has changed, which would be controversial, as some assert the nature of marriage is "eternal", whereas changes in behaviors related to marriage should be relatively easy to document. Beware the borderline of "attitudes towards marriage" -- claims of changes in these should be well-sourced. (sdsds - talk) 22:30, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

We should not avoid making the claim that marriage has changed, any more than we should avoid making the claim that the Earth's age isn't measured in the mere thousands of years. Accuracy should not be sacrificed for belief. - Nat Gertler (talk) 23:31, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I suspect a hidden agenda of religious dogma from those opposing any mention of social progress and the evolution of marriage. I suspect that they would have similar reasons for opposing mention of biological evolution - namely that the characteristics of species and the nature of marriage were both defined by God and fixed for all eternity. This article should focus on objective historical trends and not sacrifice this to dogma. --Tediouspedant (talk) 23:46, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Marriage itself has clearly changed, and it has also clearly changed as in institution within the world's major religions, including Christianity. To deny this is to deny history in the face of scholarly consensus. On the other hand putting a positive value on this change is not something that an encyclopedia should do, and no, taking that perspective does not mean having a "hidden agenda of religious dogma". It means taking a detached scholarly perspective on an institution with a lot of historical and cross-cultural variability.Griswaldo (talk) 00:12, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Um, well: "No." Using myself as an example, I have no hidden agenda of religious dogma. I know my ancestors were apes, but that doesn't prevent me from being a humanist and possibly a romantic as well. Marriage really might be an eternal link between two souls -- and its nature may be eternal as well. Who are we to claim authoritative knowledge otherwise? Science will not tell us much about that, and true science does not claim to tell us about that either. There are those who dogmatically deny the existence of the human soul. But luckily their viewpoint is not policy on enWiki! (sdsds - talk) 04:37, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Age of consent

I notice that Hardyplants removed the comment on age of consent in early Britain. His point that this is not marriage is correct, but the problem is that we have no information about historical minimum ages for marriage currently on this page. So I propose we keep this sentence because it provides a useful related detail for readers on a subject that is currently missing, and replace it if we can find more specific information.
Khin2718 19:44, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

As you were adding this comment, I was deleting those sentences. I could see no relevancy - no claim of relevancy is even made. Additionally, it may be misleading, as they may read it as the age of being able to consent to marriage, which is a different age (and while I cannot speak to England at the time, married xouples have at other times and places been exempt from statuatory rape considerations.) - Nat Gertler (talk) 19:55, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Your point that readers may interpret this, wrongly, as the minimum age for marriage seems possibly correct. However it would be good if someone could actually find some information about that subject, particularly in Western societies. Perhaps it would be easier for Rome or the 19th century.
Khin2718 20:11, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I found the information for Roman girls, at least.
Khin2718 22:03, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
"Age of Consent" is a meaningless concept in relationship to pre-modern society. Marriage in most pre-modern societies was not a contract between a man and a woman but between a man and the woman's father or family. The woman or girl had no say in the matter therefore her age and her ability to make decisions was of no relevance. In many pre-modern societies the only significant age was the onset of puberty - because an unproductive marriage was of no practical value to either family. It is only with the emergence of the concept of marriage as a contract between two equals partners, based upon love and mutual consent, rather than upon the demands of parents or families, that the question of the age at which a partner can legitimately consent to marriage has become important. --Tediouspedant (talk) 12:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Please also note that you are interpreting "age of consent" to refer to only requiring the consent of the individuals being married. The fact that in ancient Roman marriage the consent of others was also required doesn't mean that they didn't have age minimums and that these are not informative to readers.Griswaldo (talk) 20:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
What are you basing this on? In writing about the Roman Catholic "sacramental" tradition marriage, in the very book you referenced above, John Witte states that even in this tradition marriage was governed by the mutual consent of husband and wife -- see pp. 25-26. He goes on to state that this principle was a general principle of contract in Medieval canon and civil law. I'll quote him: "Marriage contracts entered into by force, fear or fraud, or through inducement of parents, masters or feudal or manorial lords were thus not binding." (26) As I mentioned above Witte's project is much more of an intellectual (rather than a social) history of marriage, but nevertheless the very fact that canon and civil law de-legitimized forced marriage of any type clearly calls into question your claim about pre-modern marriage. What is needed here are sources that back your claims up.Griswaldo (talk) 19:49, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I have found another source that asserts quite clearly that by the end of the 13th century parental consent was unnecessary for a marriage to be deemed valid. Along with this comes the repudiation of "coerced marriage" -- Reid, Charles J (1991) "The Cannonistic Contribution to the Western Rights Tradition," Boston College Review of Law 33:37-92 (see pp. 73-80). In other words, as early as the 1200s (as Witte also attests to) we have in the European tradition contractual marriage between two freely choosing individuals (at least in the letter of the law). Prior to this, however, consent of parents to some degree or another does seem to have been a requirement. Reid also mentions the age of 12, which was added to the article, in relation to Rome. Apparently prior to 12 girls could be betrothed but could not marry, and both required the consent of their fathers. Reid mentions a book that could be of use, P.E. Corbett's The Roman Law of Marriage (1930). Hope that helps.Griswaldo (talk) 20:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Do we really need that obtrusive pp-semi template on the front page? I didn't want to start a new section to ask, but really.
Khin2718 19:59, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

re Controversial Views section

This section is muddled and focusses upon one contemporary culturally specific controversy - namely same-sex marriage in the USA. My attempts to correct and widen this have repeatedly been removed. That specific controversy is just one of many controversies relating to marriage that have arisen around the world over the centuries as the institution of marriage has 'changed' over time (I won't say 'evolved' in deference to those traditionalists who see all social change as a decline from the golden age). As marriage has 'changed' from its most traditional forms to its most contemporary forms there has always been division between the liberals backing these changes and conservatives opposing them. The controversies have included:

1. Ongoing removal of traditional social restrictions on who can marry who - including inter-denominational and interfaith restrictions, tribal and racial restrictions, class and caste restrictions and also gender restrictions.
2. Ongoing transfer of the power to decide who marries and who does not marry from fathers, families and tribal elders to the partners themselves. This can also be seen as a change from traditional arranged marriage to contemporary consensual marriage.
3. Ongoing removal or abolition of aspects of marriage or types of marriage that were arranged or non-consensual. This would include child-brides, marriage of very close relatives, polygamy, inheritance of brides by the brother of a deceased husband, payment of dowries to the father of the bride etc.

Whatever our own views are on marriage - whether liberal or conservative - can we not agree that these all are or have been areas of controversy for at least come sectors of society (including cultural minorities) throughout the world? --Tediouspedant (talk) 19:36, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Improving and broadening the section is certainly welcome, but we need to find reliable sources to base the revisions on. World-wide marriage practice is and has been incredibly diverse, making identifying the main historical trends extremely complex. We can't do so ourselves without veering into original research. It's not that I personally disagree with the trends you have identified, but the relevant question is: "What broad trends do anthropologists identify in marriage historically across cultures?"
I would actually be in favour of removing the "Contemporary views on marriage" section entirely. Most of the content of the "Controversial views" subsection more naturally fits in the "Marriage restrictions" subsection earlier in the article, where the restrictions in various times and cultures can be described without filtering everything through the lens of our modern same-sex marriage controversy. Sourced discussion of trends and controversies in arranged marriages is more appropriate for "Selection of a partner," and so on.--Trystan (talk) 20:11, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Question about the use of sources

The following text appears in the entry since a recent addition:

Advocates of same-faith marriage and same-race marriage may criticize the legalization of interfaith marriage[3] and interracial marriage,[4] respectively.

My first concern has to do with the appropriateness of quoting the bible directly in the manner of the first reference. I was under the impression that use of primary sources that necessitate interpretation by the reader was not allowed here. If that piece of biblical texts is used as justification don't we need a scholarly secondary source that tells us this? My other concern is with the second source. Let me state that the content in question here seems completely uncontroversial, but there is no page number provided with the source, which, by the way is an edited volume of several different essays written by different authors. Is this acceptable here at Wikipedia? It concerns me because the editor who added this source has been making a lot of suggestions for changes to the entry without once directly verifying that a reliable source supports his/her claims. I do not necessarily disagree with all of those claims, but I thought that the modus operandi here was to make sure they are supported by sources and to verify this with page numbers and if needed actual text from those sources. Am I wrong about that? Could a page number be given for the above so that it can be verified? Thanks.Griswaldo (talk) 15:34, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

The first citation problem seems borderline, the text itself seems quite clear, but so much of Bible interpretation is contextual and argued, that a secondary source would be a lot stronger. I agree with your concern here. I'd worry less myself about the second citation, but I'd still prefer a page number if at all possible. --Joe Decker (talk) 05:31, 25 March 2010 (UTC)


"In Sunni Islam, marriage must take place in the presence of witnesses, with the consent of the bride and the consent of both spouses (including the girl)."

What does this sentence even mean? Can anyone figure it out, please? I think the phrase about "including the girl" might mean "consent of the bride" and in that case is only redundant. Also does "both spouses" mean the same as "consent of the bride" plus "and groom"? Am I hopelessly confused or does this make more sense:

"In Sunni Islam, marriage must take place in the presence of witnesses, and must have the consent of both the bride and the groom."

Anyone? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Black Jam Block (talkcontribs) 00:59, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


This seems to be missing a lot of international information about same sex marriage, and I found it pretty surprising that nothing about apartheid-era South Africa's marriage restrictions were listed. It reads as a pretty US-oriented piece. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:41, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't like US centric perspectives in Wikipedia, but I fail to see the problem here. Yes, a lot more information could be added by enthusiastic editors, but I'm not sure what you had in mind, and what direction you thought it would take the article. Can you elaborate please? HiLo48 (talk) 05:26, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Actually, one problem I did discover while trying to identify the issue is that the article has two sub-sections called Same-sex marriage. That certainly doesn't help. HiLo48 (talk) 05:28, 17 April 2010 (UTC)


Can you create a link to [3] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marriage1011111 (talkcontribs) 02:01, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Nope. Seems to be primarily an ad page, accompanied with some essay material, hard to see anything of import for the article. --Nat Gertler (talk) 03:54, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Western bias

A western bias is understandable, given the general audience of the article. Nevertheless, unless the article is specifically about Western marriage, it ought to be framed inclusively i.e. to account for the full variety of marriages that have been documented.

This is an idea of what I mean. I acknowledge immediately that I am excluding common beliefs in the West. That does not make what follows wrong. I think the question is, do we add specific western (or "modern") beliefs to the following, or should we have a subsequent section that focuses specifically on the West and on modernity?

Marriage is the socially sanctioned union that reproduces the family. It may do this biologically, through children, and/or socially, through forming a household. It is found in all societies, but in widely varying forms.
According to anthropologist Edmund Leach, 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. In no society does marriage fulfill all of these functions; no one of these is universal.[5]
The most common type of marriage is the union of one or more men with one or more women. Marriage is usually heterosexual and entails exclusive rights and duties of sexual performance, but there are instructive exceptions. Different societies have different norms concerning the ideal or prefered marriage. In most societies, the ideal was polygynous, where a man could have multiple wives, but even there, the majority of men had only one for economic, social, or political reasons. There were also many societies with a monogamous ideal, where a person could be married to only one person at once, and very few polyandrous, where a woman could have multiple husbands. No society is known to permit both polygyny and polyandry. Because of recent expansion of monogamous Europeans, monogamy is much more popular than it was ever before.

This is quite general but it is meant as I said to be inclusive. Much of the current contents of the article is about marriage in specific societies, or the modern Western norm. I do not think any of that should be thrown out, but I don't think the article should be on that alone. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:56, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

The reproduction issue is at the heart of the same-sex marriage debate. It is not possible for them to reproduce, therefore they are by definition recreational rather than procreational. However, 80 year olds sometimes marry, and it's not possible for them to reproduce either. In any case, you've opened an interesting can of worms with this much broader definition. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:05, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that is why the definition says "biologically or socially." I think same-sex partners would agree that in getting married they have formed a new family and often it cements their household. I think you are mixing up the function of marriage with a view of sex. Same-sex partners may indeed have sex recreationally. Or perhaps one person is doing it to help the other feel better at the end of the day. Sadly, there are some couples in which one person forces him/herself on the other, on occassion. Meedless to say, this is entirely true of most heterosexual couples too. However, this article is on mariage, and the opening is about marriage, not sex. Marriage is an institution in every known society and in many of them it is linked to sexual reproduction but I think most social scientists would agree that in most it is a major form of social reproduction. I don't see how this excludes gay marriage but maybe I misunderstood you. I am glad you think this is worth discussing, though. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:21, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

That first sentence is awkward and problematic. Reproduces what family? Family is created without marriage; a mother with a child is a family even if there is no recognized father. Reproduces is an awkward and misleading term in this context. The existing first sentence is preferable. I see no cases that the new first sentence would cover that are not covered by the existing first sentence. --Nat Gertler (talk) 00:21, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
Nat, what if the sentence read "Marriage is a socially sanctioned human union that usually produces a family. It is found in all societies, but in widely varying forms." I am sympathetic to Slrubenstein's version but I think some of the issues you raise are good ones. It is Western modernity that problematizes the proposed version the most. We consider the modern family to be very fluid in how it is comprised and inclusive therefore of less common configurations -- e.g. two mated individuals only (married or not), a single parent with children, etc. Marriage itself is also seen by some as only a legal institution that could actually result in no family at all -- e.g. a contractual agreement between a non-citizen and a citizen that results in the non-citizen's legal residency (of course this may not be considered marriage in the eyes of the law). Anyway How about the proposed changes I just made? We don't need to mention children or the household because we've already linked to family which usually includes both or at least one.Griswaldo (talk) 12:22, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

There are two other things I should be clear about. What I wrote emphasizes norm (ideal) over practice. It also presents the sociological view of marriage, not the personal experience or perspective. In any society, there are norms and then exceptions. The normative family may ve one man with four wives; most actually families coule be monogamous. The norm could be a husband and a wife anc childrent; in practice some people may be single parents, or coules could be childless. Perhaps the article should explain this distinction. I am certainly not objecting to discussing exceptions or providing statistics to indicate the actual distribution of family types in any society - I am just saying that the norms or ideals are also important and need to be presented. Similarly, I am in no way objecting to providing an account of how individual experience or perceive marriage - I am just saying that the sociological perspective - the social functions of marriage and its place in a larger social structure - should also be included.

I began this section by objecting to the Western bias, but I also think that the article has become a melange of sociological versus personal, ideal versus in practice, accounts of marriages and perhaps there is a way to better organize the article, or to a concise way to explain these distinctions. But I think being clear about these distinctions will help avoid a misinterpretation of what I wrote, or guide us in rewriting what I wrote. How can we make clearer what my proposal is meant to discuss, so that it is clear what it is not saying? Slrubenstein | Talk 12:50, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

OK, but just to be clear when I wrote about marriage and family in the modern West I did so from recent perspectives of historians who write about these institutions -- see Pleck, Elizabeth, Celebrating the Family and Gillis, John R. A World of Their Own Making for instance. The reality, at least in the contemporary United States, is that there has been a quantitative increase of "non-traditional" configurations of all kinds, and enough so that historians consider the current era of family life qualitatively different from previous eras precisely because of the plurality of family shapes. Consider the simple fact that the divorce rate keeps getting higher and higher. I agree that focusing too much on what's hot now in American social life is biased, but I think because of this we need to add language like "usually" to "produces a family". That's all.Griswaldo (talk) 13:02, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Granted. I know that in the past decades there has been a great deal of work by historians on changes in Western family and household composition. I do not actually know this work (except for Michel Barrett's Women's Oppression Today which, despite the title, reviews a good deal of important work on the history of the family, and H. Medick and D.W. Sabean's Interest and Emotion which I loved, but read a long time ago and do not remember (I am just mentioning two books I know, I am not questioning the sources you mention). On my part, I do not mean to simplify whatever we mean by the Western or modern family, and I certainly agree we need a section representing work by historians. I don't object to the specific changes in wording you suggest, they certainly would make it even more inclusive. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:04, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Great. I think the reproduction and household line is simply going to cause controversy too. I think, once again that generally speaking you're correct. A survey of ethnographic and historical evidence would surely support these ideas. For instance, with only minor exceptions, marriage without reproduction is a modern Western phenomena par excellence. However, the correlation between marriage and biological reproduction has never been unidirectional. In much of European and American history biological reproduction, at the stage of insemination and pregnancy actually reproduced the institution of marriage! This may not be true for Western aristocrats but it certainly was in the peasantry. Knock uped? OK its time to get married. One could say that traditional family configurations were ensured by the marriage after biological reproduction was well underway. Anyway I'm blabbering too much, but I just don't think the second sentence is necessary. People will link to family and that is enough I think.Griswaldo (talk) 14:36, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I do not reject any of your points, but I think this is where the distinction between the individual's perspective and the social perspective is essential. Sure, from my point of view if I knock someone up and have to get married, "biological reproduction caused the marriage." But from a sociological perspective, the point is that marriage exists as an institution prior to my ever screwing around, let alone getting someone pregnant or having a chile; moreover, even before I do these things there is a social norm that expecting couples should be married. This is why social scientists say that the function of marriage is to organize biological reproduction, or is the principle isntitution through which memebers of a society reproduce themselves biologically. Do you see the distinction? This is very important to sociologists and anthropologists. It does not displace your points, it just provides a different frame for analyzing the experience. I think both perspectives should have equal importance in the article - especially since a great deal of the reliable ssources on marriage analyze it from the perspective I have offered. To be clear, these are not competing or conflicting perspectives, they are compelmentary. Where one applies, so does the other.

Second point, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of social reproduction. No anthropologist or sociologist would limit marriage and the family to biological reproduction in any society (there are many Amazonian societies where biological reproduction is not central to marriage and the family at all). The word "reproduction" can mean many things. A poster or lithograph can be a reproduction, or a vase. Mainstream social theory holds that society consists of institutions, statuses and structures (enduring relations linking institutions, statuses, or one to the other). The persistence of these elements over time depends on social action and it is this kind of social action that "reproduces" society ("society" is not the same thing as "social group." A social group is a group of people. A society is an idea that includes ideas about how people should act and interact, and these forms of action and interaction take visible shape as statuses and institutions). Even in the United States today there are strong economic resons for a couple to get married, so it is no surprise that many civic leaders think it is important to society that people get married. And this is very evident in non-Western societies where marriage fulfills any of the various functions leach specifies. For example, in many agricultural societies or pastoralist societies male lineages ar property-holding entities; these lineages are social institutions and while it is true that through marriage they reproduce biologically, through marriage they also reproduce socially, each marriage reenforces the links between lineages that bind them together into a society. The first line deliberately uses vague language (social reproduction) because this is one of the few constants - I think any other attempt to define marriage would fail in that it would not apply to marriage in several societies. Again, I must emphasize I am writing about the social function. Two people can fall in love, live together, have their own personal rituals - neither sex nor love depend on marriage. Marriage does something more - Leach is giving a list of the kinds of things marriage can do. All of the things on his list, most anthropologists and sociologists believe, also play a role in promoting social solidarity and the continuity of the society. Two people at a wedding might not be aware of this at all, or care. But sociologists and anthropologists are not, as a rule, interested in what these two people are going through, but rather the fact that in their society there are hosts of other couples - with different stories, amorous or not, about why they decided to get married - who participate in the same institution. even people who are divorced (i.e. marriage "failed" them in some way) sometimes believe in marriage so much the remarry, even repeatedly. And then you find the same institution, or one so similar we call it by the same word, in every other human society. These things call (sociologists and anthropologists claim) for a different kind of explanation than "shit, I knocked her up, better get married." Not more true or right, but just as important. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:59, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I am not trying to argue - but I hope that this explanation will either (1) help others improve upon the language I came up with and/or (2) start a discussion of how the article can be restructured so that both of these approaches to studying marriage (sociological vs. personal) are presented in a way that does not confuse readers. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:01, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

It seems to me that you're trying to lead with a view of why marriage is, rather than what marriage is, and also that you're bringing to the opening a fair amount of sociological lingo. Aside from the question of accuracy (it seems to me that in many places and times, marriage was not the creation of a family but of bringing someone into an existing family; to call it the creation is a very nuclear view of family) there's the quetion of the appropriateness. "Marriage" is not just an issue of interest to those studying sociology; it is about as general-interest a topic as there is, and the opening of this article should address it in its basic facts and in basic language. There is room in this article for sourced sociological interpretations of the "ideals" of marriage and the purposes it serves, but right at the opening is not the place. --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:39, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Nat about not letting any one discipline dominate the entry, but I think Slrubenstein is open to that as well. However, I would like to note that the description of the social scientific view of marriage offered just above is problematic. Sociologists do not focus on the specific "social function(s) of marriage" in the manner you describe, which seems rigidly functionalist to me. If you look at basic reference sources in Sociology (like Oxford's Dictionary of Sociology which I happen to have handy access to via my library online) you get this -- "Marriage is traditionally conceived to be a legally recognized relationship, between an adult male and female, that carries certain rights and obligations." I would also like to note that in anthropology the type of functionalist perspective you have reproduced above was de rigueur until 50 years ago perhaps. For instance see the contextual introduction to Nancy Levine's "Alternative Kinship, Marriage, and Reproduction," (2008) Annual Review of Anthropology, in which she identifies the hallmark critiques of Maurice Bloch, Jack Goody, Edmund Leach and Rodney Needham and others. Then she identifies David Schneider as authoring the critiques which were "the most devastating and most productive for future research." --
  • "In his papers and in two influential books, Schneider moved the study of kinship from a focus on function, social structure, rules, and types of societies to a study of culture and meaning, essentially, what kin relationships mean to people (Carsten 2004)."
It clearly doesn't end there either. I'm sure you are aware of Duran Bell's (Current Anthropology 1997) trenchant critique of definitions of marriage, like Leach's, that revolve around establishing legitimacy. I'm not saying Bell is right and Leach was wrong, but forgive me if I don't agree with your rendition of the state of the field. Of course people critiqued Bell for doing what his predecessors were doing, trying to establish a universal definition for a variable institution. If you want to talk Western bias then you might as well give up on the term marriage altogether. You mention "a different kind of explanation than 'shit, I knocked her up, better get married.'" I didn't realize that by using more colloquial language I was going to be misunderstood. My point was that there is not a clear unidirectional relationship like marriage --> biological reproduction or marriage --> family even. Once again that these things are often, if not usually correlated is not questioned by anyone, but what social scientists (and historians!) will evaluate are the particular practices that are entangled with these correlations, because, like the example I cited and you refer to, it can be deceptive to claim that one leads to the other -- your functionalist explanation notwithstanding. Regards.Griswaldo (talk) 18:30, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not a general interest magazine. Our NPOV and V policies require us to present all significant views from reliable sources. And marriage is a social institution, it is not a poem or a personal feeling, it is a social institution. So there should be no surprise that a vast amount of scholarly literature comes from sociology. And my larger point is that this is an article on "marriage," not just my marriage or my parents' marriage, and not just marriage in the US or Europe. If we want an article on marriage in Europe, let's have that article. But an article on "marriage" as such must be inclusive of marriage as it is practices around the world. and that means that a great deal of relevant literature will come from anthropology.

I am not trying to push any agenda other than Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and articles should reflect what we know on a topic - and the thought that scholarly research is an insignificant part of our knowledge about things really to my ears sounds radically unencyclopedic.

I agree with you that the organization of the article is an open topic. But the introduction must be inclusive, if this is meant to be about marriage in general. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:57, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

"and the thought that scholarly research is an insignificant part of our knowledge about things really to my ears sounds radically unencyclopedic." Then you may want to have those ears checked, because that's not what anyone has been saying. But you're leading off with a lot of sociobabble in an article where the basics should be readable without such. Marriage does not reproduce anything. It creates a family, or a familial relationship (a kinship), as recognized socially, legally, and/or religiously. Marriage does not reproduce the family biologically; marriage is a social construct and does not have a biology. People reproduce biologically through sex. "The most common type of marriage is the union of one or more men with one or more women" seems specifically to exclude the heterosexual relationship under the guise of inclusiveness; while there is polyandry in plenty of cultures, at least my readings suggest that in most of those, a marriage does not have more than one woman, but rather a man that has three wives has three marriages. The variable is less in the number of people involved in a marriage and more in the exclusivity of the status. --Nat Gertler (talk) 18:56, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

"The most common type of marriage is the union of one or more men with one or more women" cannot possibly exclude heterosexual monogamy since it includes one man and one woman. You say a man who is married to thre women has three marriages only ecause you have defined marriage as a relationship between two individuals. The point is, several societies do that, and many societies do not. I can find a verifiable source if that is what you are asking for. This is not about what I think marriage is nor is it what you think marriage is, it is about how social scientists define marriage. You seem to wnt to exclude all kinds of marriage other than the one you believe in, in your attempt at exclusivity. That doesn't wash. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:22, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Sorry for the brain buffer error; I meant "homosexual", not "heterosexual". Basically, your statement about "The most common type" actually covers a range of types, even along the axes which you choose to measure it - every type but the homosexual one. It is a statement that comes across as stating the exclusion, not the inclusion. Is the union of more-than-one woman to more-than-one man so much more common than one man to one man or one woman to woman that the statement needs to be crafted to include it while excluding those others? And no, this article is not about how social scientists define marriage, this is about marriage. If you want an article just on the social scientist view of marriage, I suggest you start one on that topic. "You say a man who is married to thre women has three marriages only ecause you have defined marriage as a relationship between two individuals." No, I say that because it can because the second marriage can often be entered into without the consent or involvement of the first wife, and where divorce is available, it can also be entered into on the same terms, and because the wives will describe themselves as being married to the same man, but not to each other. Polyandry is not the same as group marriage. -Nat Gertler (talk) 21:46, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

That is why I put "most commen" rather than all but if you want to change it to "person" I certainly will not object. Some marraiges are singular, some are group marriages, "one or more" includes both, so it includes the case you describe. You write, "If you want an article just on the social scientist view of marriage," well golly, where did I ever suggest that this article should just be on the social scientist view of marriage? Slrubenstein | Talk 08:33, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

The real issue here is that your proposed text covers every form of marriage therefore making the qualifier "most common" meaningless -- The most common type of marriage is the union of one or more men with one or more women. This sentence covers monogamy, polygyny, polyandry and group marriage. What forms of marriage are not "most common"? The most common form of marriage is monogamous. Cross cultural surveys put together in the mid 20th century may have found polygamy allowable, or even "preferred" in a greater number of distinct socio-cultural groups, but even amongst those groups the actual practice of polygamy was usually much less common than monogamy. Add to this the fact that a vast majority of the world's population currently exists within socio-cultural groups that do not allow polygamy at all. Presently, the actual number of polygamous marriages is tiny, weeny, itsy bitsy ... you get the idea. It is certainly of interest that most cultures seem to have allowed polygamy. Absolutely! But the simply fact is that presently monogamy dominates marriage across the globe. We need to be clear about all this.Griswaldo (talk) 12:30, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

The reason I wrote "most commonly" was because there are marriages between two women - I am not speaking of a homosexual union as is now sought in the US and other countries, but as a legal form found in some societies. But your point is well taken. We could say something like, "Social scientists studying marriage norms around the world have found that marriage is generally understood to mean the union of one or more women with one or more men. In practice, the most common type of marriage is heterosexual and monogamous" or something like that. I put my proposal on this talk page because i know the wording can be improved upon. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:24, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

" I am not speaking of a homosexual union as is now sought in the US and other countries" Why not? Is the west to be excluded? And same-sex marriage is not just sought, it is something that is legally recognized and extant in a number of lands. "Social scientists studying marriage norms around the world have found that marriage is generally understood to mean the union of one or more women with one or more men." Sure... if you add the places where it's recognized to be one man and one woman, the places where it's one man and one-or-more woman, the places where it's one woman and one-or-more men, and the places where it's one-or-more men and one-or-more women. But the only visible reason to combine all of those into a single value is to separate out the various places where it's two-people-regardless-of-gender. --Nat Gertler (talk) 20:50, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

You already made this point. And i already replied. i said, "That is why I put "most common." Do you speak English as your first language? You might want to see how "most common" is ueed. It means most but not all. It is a way of signalling that this description does not include all marriages. Does this mean that othe marriages do not count? Well, only if you do not speak English and do not understand the words. I will explain it to you. It just means the description is incomplete - unavoidable because i do not think one can come up with one complete and inclusive descrption of marriage. My making it clear that this is incomplet, the language signals that soon we will describe forms of mariage not covered by the description. Isn't this normal? If you hear "most cities are like x" don't you then espect a sentence saying "but some cities are like y?" Well, that is just English. Nothing in what i wrote limits the article in any wa from describing other marriages.

Did I formulate this to xclude some marriages? Not delierately. Instead I was paraphrasing some anthropological definitions that describe the norm (meaning normative not average) marriage in most (actually, virtually all) societes. The reason to combine all of those is to see how one might generalize to include all normative forms of marriage. As for marriages that are not normative (and if you think that means wrong or bad, you have a naie view of society) I have already addressed this topic at length. My only goal is to make this lead more inclusive of non-Western societies. What is your goal? Slrubenstein | Talk 21:46, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, you already replied. The reply was not convincing.
Consider the case where we have eight boys - four named Arthur, three named Bert, and one named Charlie. You can say that "boys named Arthur or Charlie" are the most common sort, and be statistically correct - boys named Bert are in the minority. But combining Arthur and Charlie serves no visible point except to exclude Bert, and makes Bert look a particular minority when Bert is far more common than Charlie. Similarly, you have combined an array of different types of marriage under a lump description which serves little visible point but to exclude types without gender requirements while including some types which are rarer. Where are is it that multiple-women-to-multiple-men marriage so normative that it must be included, while ignoring those places where marriage is gender-neutral?
If one wants to show both what is common and what the diversity is, one can say "The most common type of marriage entered into involves one woman married to one other man, with neither having other spouses. However, many societies recognize at least one other format of marriage, whether polygyny (one man having multiple wives), polyandry (one woman having multiple husbands), gay marriage (marriage of either two men or two women), or group marriage (marriage of more than two people with a minimum -but not a maximum - of one of each gender)." The phrasing on the last is because I cannot point to a society that allows homosexual marriages of more than 2 people, but if someone else can, please do.
As for what your motives are, I really don't care. I do care about what gets added to the article. If there's something with a POV spin, it really doesn't matter if the spin is there because of intent, unconscious bias, ignorance, or linguistic clumsiness, it still shouldn't be in the article. --Nat Gertler (talk) 17:01, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Relatedly in our globalized world certain cultural forms simply dominate. While we should be sensitive to "Western bias" it is important not to go so far as to prop up "non-Western" cultural forms when forms associated with "Western" cultures, or more generally industrialized societies, are quantitatively dominant by far. The existence of alternative ways of organizing social life is very interesting but we need to have an accurate picture of global life, vis-a-vis various social institutions, even if that means at some times acquiescing to the "Western" or "Industrialized" hegemony.Griswaldo (talk) 12:38, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

I think there are two issues: what form of marriage is found in most societies and the answer is polygynous. What form of marriage is found among most married partners and the answer is monogamous. We should provide both forms of counting. I can provide a source for the first claim. You are probably right about the second claim but we need a source. Polygynous unions are still the norm in many countries. But I have no objection to a discussion of the spread of monogamy. As you know, though, the current Western norm (the nuclear family, what anthropologists call a conjugal family) only emerged as the norm relatively recently. In any event, the fact remains that this is an article on marriage and until it is retitled "Western marriage" or "Modern marriage" or however you wish to designate it, it cannot be introduced with a western bias. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:24, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Saying that "polygynous unions are still the norm in many countries" is also problematic. Norms are based on convention and not simply on what is or is not allowable or even idealized. Also within a social group polygamy cold be normative under certain conditions but not normative under others. For instance it may be expressedly restricted to people of a certain status, or it may be socially inappropriate for people without such status to practice polygamy. As far as I know the cross-cultural studies mentioned above focus on measures of allowability of some kind of another, but they do not make these finer distinctions. Beyond these distinctions, if it is actually normative to practice polygyny within a certain social group I doubt that this is the case in many "countries" by which one usually means entire nation-states. We need to be specific here. Yes the nuclear or conjugal family is a recent invention and I think we agree on the importance of both cross cultural data and historical narratives in that regard. We just need to make sure we're clear on the differences you mention above. I'm being nit-picky but I just want to ensure sentences like the one I am picking on aren't added because I don't think they're clear. We can add both pieces of information instead. Monogamy is the most prevalent form of marriage today, across the globe, but more distinct socio-cultural groups actually allow form of polygamy.Griswaldo (talk) 13:53, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm not quite clear on exactly what parts of the current lead are being alleged to be not inclusive or Western-biased. It has been intentionally drafted to be inclusive. The opening - "social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship" - is broad enough to cover every form of marriage. With the exception of a sentence explaining English terminology, the rest of the lead includes qualified statements and lists of widely varied options that represent the wide diversity of marriage practice.-Trystan (talk) 17:33, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

What about marriages that are the result of the exchange of women between two lineages? The woman resides with one man, but the union is between groups, not individuals. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:00, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
Which specific tradition are you referring to? All of the sociological definitions we have refer to individuals:
  • "connection between male and female", "relation of one or more men to one or more women" (Westermarck)
  • "union between a man and a woman" (Notes and Queries)
  • "a union between a woman and one or more other persons" (Gough)
  • "relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons" (Leach)
  • "a relationship between one or more men (male or female) in severalty to one or more women" (Bell)
The "union of individuals" phrasing is inclusive of all of those sociological definitions, as well as with the legal and dictionary definitions that have been presented on the talk page and in previous versions of the article.--Trystan (talk) 00:17, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Your own definition does not suit Gough and Leach's definitions. Be that as it may I assume youhave no objection to adding (after whatever definition we use) Leach's catalogue of functions? Slrubenstein | Talk 10:16, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes it does. It says -- "Marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship." It does't say "between one individual and one other individual". Individuals is plural here and the sentence is ambiguous as to whether that means two individuals or twenty, and it is also ambiguous as to what configurations these individuals are in.Griswaldo (talk) 11:09, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

A lineage is not the same things as "individuals" Slrubenstein | Talk 21:14, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Neither the Gough nor the Leach definition listed above says anything about lineage. They refer to a woman (who would be an individual) and persons, who, whatever else they are, are individuals. -Nat Gertler (talk) 22:27, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
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    • ^ Crawley, William (2008-12-12). "Vatican opposes UN Declaration on decriminalisation of homosexuality". BBC. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
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