Wife - Related Terminology

Related Terminology

A woman on her wedding day is usually described as a bride, even after the wedding ceremony, while being described as a wife is also appropriate after the wedding. Historically, her male partner was known as the bridegroom during the wedding, and within the marriage is called her husband. Traditionally, the bride or her family may have brought her husband a dowry, or the husband or his family may have needed to pay a bride price to the family of his bride, or both were exchanged between the families; the dowry not only supported the establishment of a household, but also served as a condition that if the husband committed grave offenses upon his wife, the dowry had to be returned to the wife or her family; for the time of the marriage, they were made inalienable by the husband. A former wife whose spouse is deceased is a widow, and may be left with a dower (often a third or a half of his estate) to support her as dowager. A wife may, in some cultures and times, share the title of her husband, without having gained that title by her own right.

Wife refers especially to the institutionalized form in relation to the spouse and offspring, unlike mother, a term that puts a woman into the context of her children. Also compare the similar sounding midwife, a person assisting in childbirth ("Mother midnight" emphasizes to a midwife's power over life and death). In some societies, especially historically, a concubine was a woman who was in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented relationship with a man who could not be married to her, often because of a difference in social status.

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