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The related word "matrimony" derives from the Old French word matremoine, which appears around 1300 CE and ultimately derives from Latin mātrimōnium, which combines the two concepts: mater meaning "mother" and the suffix -monium signifying "action, state, or condition".
In The History of Human Marriage (1922), 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." In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognized by custom or law".
Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, and various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, and who can enter into, a valid religious marriage.
Some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own, and require a separate civil marriage for official purposes.
When a marriage is performed with religious content under the auspices of a religious institution it is a religious marriage.
Religious marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before that religion.
Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce or annulment.
In some areas, child marriages and polygamy may occur in spite of national laws against the practice.
Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns of the infringement of women's rights, or the infringement of children's rights (both female and male children), and because of international law.
In other countries, such as Australia, while only civil marriage is recognised, the Marriage Act allows for a civil marriage and religious marriage to be performed simultaneously by a clergyperson of a recognized religion if he or she is also legally recognized as a wedding officiants (though it is illegal to purport to solemnize religious marriages which would have been unlawful under civil law, such as polygamous marriages or child marriages).
Conversely, civil marriage does not exist in some countries governed by a religious legal system, such as Saudi Arabia, where marriages contracted abroad might not be recognized if they were contracted contrary to Saudi interpretations of Islamic religious law.
These changes included giving wives legal identities of their own, abolishing the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives, giving wives property rights, liberalizing divorce laws, providing wives with reproductive rights of their own, and requiring a wife's consent when sexual relations occur.
These changes have occurred primarily in Western countries.