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In the case of the death of the other spouse, the term used is widow.
The social status of such women varies by culture, but in some places, they may be subject to potentially harmful practices, such as widow inheritance or levirate marriage; or divorced women may be socially stigmatized.
In many cultures, with marriage it is generally expected that a woman will take her husband's surname, though that is not universal.
A married woman may indicate her marital status in a number of ways: in Western culture a married woman would commonly wear a wedding ring but in other cultures other markers of marital status may be used.
In Middle English it had the form wif, and in Old English wīf, "woman or wife".
It is related to Modern German Weib (woman, female), and Danish viv (wife, usually poetic) and may derive ultimately from the Indo-European root ghwībh- "shame; pudenda" (cf.
For some, this is a controversial practice, due to its tie to the historical doctrine of coverture and to the historically subordinated roles of wives.Among the last European countries to establish full gender equality in marriage were Switzerland, in the 1980s.In various marriage laws around the world, however, the husband continues to have authority; for instance the Civil Code of Iran states at Article 1105: "In relations between husband and wife; the position of the head of the family is the exclusive right of the husband".Others argue that today this is merely a harmless tradition that should be accepted as a free choice.Some jurisdictions consider this practice as discriminatory and contrary to women's rights, and have restricted or banned it; for example, since 1983, when Greece adopted a new marriage law which guaranteed gender equality between the spouses, Traditionally, and still in many cultures, the role of a wife was closely tied to that of a mother, by a strong expectation that a wife ought to bear children, while, conversely, an unmarried woman should not have a child out of wedlock.