10 Different types of Marriages

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The concept of marriage is not a recent practice. It has been there in our society since ages. In fact we are here because our parents got married to each other. Marriage also known as matrimony is the socially recognized union between two individuals. It is a kind of relationship involving mutual rights and duties where two people are socially approved to establish a family. Hence it is a universally accepted social institution. Now we shall look forward to its broader concept. The types of marriages practiced all around the globe can be varied. Different societies believe in different kind of religious practices for the social recognition of a relationship. However nowadays new forms of marriage are coming up which is perhaps beyond our knowledge. Some might also seem weird to us, but they are legalized in their countries, and people practice it with complete freedom and liberty. No matter what, its main essence remains the same. All we have seen so far is the typical ‘Indian’ wedding with great pomp and show and our understanding of marriage is confined to that. We never look beyond that to explore what is going on in the world around. Well, here we have this list of ten amazing types of marriages which will open up your mind and help you know beyond your communal or societal practices.


common law marriage

This is also known as ‘defacto’ or informal kind of marriage where two people are married to each other on a contract basis. Well, it is actually legalized in many countries and in places where it has not yet been legalized it is known as ‘cohabitation’. Though it might seem very modern and westernized kind of concept, you will be surprised to know that it is one of the oldest forms of marriage which is still in practice. They are generally monogamous in nature, and legal divorces after a particular time period ends the marriage tenure.



We all have heard about the current trend of gay and lesbian marriages. But this is an older version of the same concept practiced generally in the early 19th and 20th century where two women lived together which might or might not be sexual. They were engaged in a relationship and would interact in public as a couple rather than female friends. Thus what we see today is just a modified concept of the same. Boston marriages hold a unique place in history and were mostly practiced by those women who felt they had a better connection with females rather than males. Its origin took place through a novel (Bostonians) written by Henry James in 1886.



Both of them are opposite in meaning, but we have collectively dealt with them since both focus on one aspect and their main theme remains the same. Hypogyny is a kind of marriage practice in which a woman is married to a husband of lower social status, rank or age. Hypergyny on the other hand is a complete vice-versa case where a woman is married to a family of higher social status and is more recognized. It is generally practiced in societies with dowry rituals where the bride’s family pays a heavy sum to match up to the groom’s level. Also,it signifies patriarchy and male dominance in the society.


levirate and sororate

Levirate originates from the word ‘levir’ which means husband’s brother. It is basically a specialized kind of polygamy in which the man marries the widow of his dead brother. Its origin lies in the ancient Hebrew and Christian societies. In places like Southern Sudan it is known as ‘ghost marriage’. Sororate on the other hand means a kind of the marriage system in which the widower marries one of his wife’s sisters. Also,due to infertility and several other factors a sororate marriage was practiced in few societies. One of them is the Maricopa Indians of Arizona.


polygyny and polyandry

Polygyny is a very popular kind of marriage in which a man has more than one wife and there are certain biological, economic and sociological reasons behind the acceptance of this kind of marriage practice. Widely practiced by the Muslims of the Middle East, this marriage system is said to discourage prostitution. Sororal polygyny is one in which the man marries one or more of wife’s sisters. Polyandry which is again a vice versa situation in which a woman has more than one husbands. Though it is much less common but it has happened to occur in many countries where males outnumber females in terms of population and hence such kind of marriage practice becomes a need for the society.



Polyamory can be simply defined as what we call ‘bisexual’ in today’s era. Though it has not been legalized anywhere but is still practiced in certain places. Bisexuality is just one form of polyamory which signifies that it is a wide term. It is a system in which both men and women have more than one sex relational partners. However it is more popular in terms of bisexual people since this helps them express both sides of their sexuality. This is quite complex kind of marriage practice and is hardly accepted socially.


open marriage

This is again a very interesting kind of marriage concept and is also legally practiced. It allows extramarital affairs for both the spouses and both of them have the option of maintaining outside relationships beyond the marriage terms. It can be one sided as well. Swinging is one kind of open marriage. The only difference being swingers are emotionally monogamous and the origin of this kind of marriage practice is dated back to 1960s and 70s. However it is not yet socially accepted because of which people generally hide it from their family and friends. Also there are certain issues like jealousy, legal factors and religious obstacles in context to this kind of marriage.


same sex

Nowadays same sex marriage has been in limelight because of increasing number of gay and lesbian couples. It is monogamous but with people of the same sex. It is gradually being legalized in most of the countries including India where people are allowed to marry someone of the same sex. However such kind of married couples are unable to produce children according to biological patterns, thus they opt for adoption. Well some gays and lesbians are also polyamorous.



It is a very popular and general kind of marriage practice which is widely practiced all around the world, since people consider it the natural way both socially and biologically. Monogamy again is a very wide term which includes several sub components. It can be either love or arranged. Monogamy basically means marriage to one person for a lifetime and is widely in context to opposite sex. It also has subdivisions. Strict monogamy and serial monogamy. The former is a universally recognized form in which a person should not marry more than once whereas serial monogamy is practiced in places like U.S where one is allowed to marry twice, the only condition being that he/she should have one spouse at a time.


after death marriage

A very bizarre form of marriage which is legalized in countries like France where a person is allowed to marry a person of the opposite sex even after his death. Also it is socially accepted due to various reasons. There comes the concept of romantic quotient where a person is so much in love that he decides to marry even after the death of his/her beloved. However the interesting fact is that the bible also talks about this kind of marriage practice which is known as ‘marriage in heaven’ according to biblical terms. This is also one of the rare marriage types but is certainly one of a kind where there is some spiritual bond which connects two people even after death.

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