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:
“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”
—Bible: Hebrew Deuteronomy 24:5.
“Loach: What happened to your nose, Gittes? Somebody slam a bedroom window on it?
J.J. Gittes: Nope, your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick.”
—Robert Towne (b. 1936)
“Gentlemen, no one objects to the husband being the head of the wife as Christ was the head of the churchto crucify himself; what we object to is his crucifying his wife.”
—Susan B. Anthony (18201906)