What is Marriage?

What is Marriage?

Marriage can be defined and explained in diverse ways, and by different entities, based on cultural, religious, and personal factors.Marriage is the legal union between a man and woman, who have accepted to live together as husband and wife. More professionally, a generally accepted and encompassing definition of marriage is the following: a formal union and social and legal contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally. One can see the contractual marriage agreement  as a situation where the couple has legal obligations to each other throughout their lives or until they decide to divorce. Being married also gives legitimacy to sexual relations within the marriage. Traditionally, marriage is often viewed as having a key role in the preservation of morals and civilization.

Several professionals and notable authors sees marriage as;

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife- Franz Schubert

Neither man nor woman is perfect or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage or family, no ward or stake is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths- Sheri L. Dew

Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day- Barbara De Angelis

The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife-Barbara De Angelis

Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays- Henny Youngman


Types of marriage


This  is the type of marriage which allows a man to marry only one wife. It is a common type of marriage in Nigeria, especially among Christians.The relationship in this type of marriage is always very healthy and strong.


This is a type of marriage that allows a man to marry more than one wife. A family that is formed as a result of this type of marriage is also referred to as a polygamous family.

Marriage practices

Marriage practices refer to the lawful ways marriage are organised or conducted in Nigeria.

Christian/church marriage

A Christian or church marriage is practiced by Christians. This type of marriage is conducted in the church. The deride and bride groom take their vows and are afterwards pronounced as husband and wife by the officiating priest. A Christian marriage allows a man to marry only one wife.

Islamic marriage

An Islamic marriage is conducted in a mosque. It is presided over by an imam. Some of the holy Qu’ran is read and prayers said for the couple. The imam advice then on husband and wife this type of a marriage allows a man to marry as many as four wives. Provided he can take care of each of them in the same way.

Court Marriage

A court marriage is also called an ordinance marriage. It is performed in a local government registry. It is presided over by a local government official or court registrar. Court marriage is based on the marriage laws of the country. Divorce in this kind of a marriage cannot be easily obtained, and must be according to the laws of the country.

Traditional Marriage

Traditional marriage s based on the laws and cultural practices of the land.

It involves members of the extended family of the bride and bridegroom, as well as their friends and other well wishers participating in the traditional marriage rites as approved to pay the bride price or bride wealth to the parents of the bride, as well as present other item as requested. In a traditional marriage, a man can marry more than one wife.

Objects Used in Marriage Practices

Marriage practices entail the use of different objects. Here are some of them:

Kola nut-This is a symbol of peace, unity and continuity, and it is used commonly in traditional marriage ceremonies.

Wine-Wine, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic is used in all forms of marriage

Food-The guests who attend a marriage, ceremony are well entertained with an assortment of drinks and food.

Wedding dresses

In conducting a marriage, different dresses are required for a church wedding, for instance, a wedding gown is necessary. In a traditional marriage, the cultural attire of the people is worn.

Money-Money is a vital aspect in any marriage. It is used to buy marriage items as well as to pay the bride price.

Wedding rings-A wedding ring is a symbol of  perfect unionism between both parties. The man and the woman rings are exchanged between the bridegroom and bride during the marriage ceremony.Typically this the the culture and tradition of every marriage ceremony

The bible-The bible is used in a church or Christian marriage for taking the marriage vows.

The Quaran-In an Islamic marriage, the Quaran is used to perform and seal the marriage union.

Importance of marriage

People get married for the following reasons:

  1. Marriage unites individuals and families
  2. To ensure the continuity of the family in raising children
  3. To promote morals and social discipline
  4. To put a check on sexual behaviour and relationships
  5. To fulfill the demands of our cultures and religion


Religion is the belief in the existence and worship of a supreme being, called God. Religion is an important part of culture. In Nigeria there are different religions, as in other parts of the world.

The different religions in Nigeria

Traditional religion is the worship of gods or goddesses according to the cultural beliefs of the people. For example, traditional worshipers in shrines, and they use objects like cowries, animals, food items, kolanuts, herbs, etc, to practice their religion.

Christian religion

Christianity is practiced by Christians. They worship in the church on Sundays. It involves the use of the bible, hymn book, rosary, anointing oil, communion, etc, for singing, praying and dancing in praise of the Lord Almighty and Jesus Christ His Sons. The evangelist, a reverend or a priest.

Islamic religion

Islamic religion is practiced by Muslims. They believe in Allah (GOD) and his messenger Mohammed. The Muslims worship in the mosque, usually on Fridays at the Jumat service. It is also required in Islam, among other things that the adherents pray five times daily, using the tesbih, i.e, prayer beads. Imams usually preside over a Muslim prayer service.

Good ways of practicing religion

To practice religion, there are certain attitudes we need to develop, such as the following

Faithfulness-All religions preach that one should be faithful to God and trust in Hom alone.

Honesty-We are expected to be truthful, honest and reliable at all times prayer-fullness and thankfulness

Practicing religion requires praying to God, as a way of communicating our needs as well as thanking Him for everything He has given us.


This means showing kindness and sharing what we have with others. All religions teach us to be kind, especially to the needy.

Love and forgiveness

The need to care, tolerate, accept and forgive others is encourage by all religions as a way of showing love to people.

Review questions

  1. What is marriage?
  2. Name the different types of marriage
  3. Describe an Islamic marriage
  4. Mention five object used in a marriage ceremonies
  5. Describe a traditional marriage you have witnessed


  1. Find out from the parents what kind of marriage they adopted\
  2. Form groups of monogamous marriage families in class and introduce each members to the class
  3. Find out from your teacher about some other objects that are used in traditional marriage ceremonies
  4. Find out about some more marriage practices common in your community
  5. How is a traditional marriage performed in your culture? Find out from your parents