definition of spouse

A spouse is one of the two members of a couple. To be more precise, it is the legal term used to refer to each individual in the marriage institution. The spouses establish a civil or religious bond, which is reflected in a ceremony in which both commit to respect and support each other.

Etymologically, the term spouse comes from the Latin coniux, coniugis that expresses union and that curiously comes from the word iugum, that is, yoke. Another equally striking aspect is the frequent confusion between spouse and spouse, although this second word is considered a vulgarism not accepted by the academy.

In both civil and religious weddings, the spouses who formalize their union assume a series of rights and obligations that depend on the cultural tradition of each country.

When the marriage is broken, this legally produces a marital dissolution, which can occur for a number of causes: a divorce decree, a judicial separation sentence or a declaration of nullity of the marriage itself.

In recent years the institution of marriage has undergone a significant change, since the union in marriage between a man and a woman has incorporated a variant in some countries: same-sex marriage. This legal novelty has implications for language, since the concept of marriage is no longer an exclusive bond between a man and a woman.

Main duties between spouses

Although each cultural tradition establishes its own duties according to legislation, in the Western world there are a series of obligations that are consolidated:

- Apart from the mutual support and respect already mentioned, fidelity is considered an essential aspect in the couple. However, adultery as a criminal figure has been disappearing in most laws.

- From a legal perspective, the members of the couple must ensure the common interest, so they must not act against the family they have formed.

- In relation to coexistence, each spouse agrees to share daily responsibilities, as well as caring for the children jointly.

- Regarding the assets that they share, there are different modalities on the matrimonial regime: in community of assets and earnings, separation of assets, participation regime or endowment regime, popularly known as the dowry. In relation to common property, some marriages reach a prior agreement on the conditions that both parties agree on, which is known as matrimonial agreements.