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Historically, in most cultures, married women had very few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family's children, the property of the husband; as such, they could not own or inherit property, or represent themselves legally (see for example coverture).
In Europe, the United States, and other places in the developed world, beginning in the late 19th century and lasting through the 21st century, marriage has undergone gradual legal changes, aimed at improving the rights of the wife.
Some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own, and require a separate civil marriage for official purposes.
Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, and various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, and who can enter into, a valid religious marriage.
In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity.
When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes.
Gwyneth, 41, and Brad, 43, were most recently seen enjoying a romantic dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in Culver City, California – the same eatery where they stopped by for a meal last month. Chris and Gwyneth released a joint statement on the actress' lifestyle website Goop, announcing that they were "consciously uncoupling".
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow stated their priority was their two children "It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate," it said.