A wife is a female lifetime partner in a continuing marital relationship. A wife may also be referred to as a spouse. The term continues to be applied to a woman who has separated from her husband and ceases to be applied to such a woman only when her marriage has come to an end following a legally recognised divorce or the death of her spouse. The rights and obligations of the wife in relation to her husband and others, and her status in the community and in law, varies between cultures and has varied over time. In a heterosexual relationship, a woman's spouse is her husband.
The term is most commonly applied to a woman in a legally sanctioned marriage, and not to a woman in another cohabitation relationship such as a concubine, mistress etc. However, a woman in a so-called common law marriage may describe herself as a common law wife, de facto wife, or simply a wife; but sometimes the female is described as "girlfriend" or "partner". Those seeking to advance gender neutrality may refer to both marriage partners as "spouses", and many countries are rewording their statute law by replacing "wife" and "husband" with "spouse". Also, in a polygamous marriage, each woman is described as a wife.
Famous quotes containing the word wife:
“English people apparently queue up as a sort of hobby. A family man might pass a mild autumn evening by taking the wife and kids to stand in the cinema queue for a while and then leading them over for a few minutes in the sweetshop queue and then, as a special treat for the kids, saying Perhaps weve time to have a look at the Number Thirty-One bus queue before we turn in.”
—Calvin Trillin (b. 1940)
“My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
Youd care to join us? In a pigs arse, friend.”
—Philip Larkin (19221986)
“Your wife would give you little thanks for that
If she were by to hear you make the offer.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)