Marital rights is a term that refers to the entitlements of a husband and of a wife. In Christian-based marriages, a husband has the right to have sex with his wife and to act as head of the household. A wife also has marital rights although they have not been discussed in as much detail. The term marital rights is generally used to address entitlements husband and wife have over one another, such as their authority over one another's body.
Marriage is often referred to as a contract. If historical examples are studied, it may become apparent how similar marriage was to a business arrangement. In many present day cultures, this similarity still exists. Throughout history, the union of a man and woman has often been surrounded by material exchanges and the negotiation of entitlements of the parties.
Once a man marries a woman, he is generally entitled to a minimum of two things. The first of his marital rights entitles him to have sex with his wife. The frequency and the timing can be subject to dispute. The need for procreation is believed to be the original reasoning for granting this entitlement to men.
In some instances, men's exercise of this right has led to marital rape. Marital rape is now widely condemned, and it is a crime in some countries. In other countries, there still are no charges to be brought for what is known as marital rape.
The second of a man's marital rights is the authority to control the affairs of his household. This right is believed to be based on the superior status that the Bible grants to men. It is further believed that such an arrangement was needed to ensure cooperation. In many societies, life is structured so that power struggles could be chaotic and problematic. They could lead to serious problems, such as the starvation of a tribe.
Though the concept of having marital rights still exists in many Christian cultures, it generally doesn't play as prominent of a role as in times past. This may or may not be the case in other societies adhering to an Abrahamic religion.
Marital rights in Islamic belief, for example, are similar to marital rights in Christian belief. Islamic marriages also grant men the rights to have sex with their wives and to be leaders of their families. Just like in Christianity, husband and wife in Islam are forbidden from having sexual relations outside of matrimony.