I recently saw in a movie, "Jeremiah Johnson" (the one from 1972, with Robert Redford), in which Johnson marries a woman unintentionally by sipping from a bowl that she offered. The tribe considered this as evidence that he accepted the woman as his wife.

Has one been able marry unintentionally in any society?

Is it at all likely that such event happened, based on any records of such an event that may exist?

Or is it valid to assume, that such thing likely not happened, because cultures take the ceremony of marriage seriously?

Would such cultures normally recognize and excuse such an error?

P.S. I am not a native English speaker; I want to explicitly declare, that I do not intend to offend anyone. If I do, I beg your pardon.

  • 1
    This question is on the margin; superficially it is a question about law and anthropology. Furthermore, I suspect the answer is "no, no society would normally permit marriage without intent." Closing the question would be easy, but I think it would be interesting to use this question to explore historical and cultural assumptions about marriage and contracts. The simple answers will involve regal proxy marriage, but I suspect we can find some more interesting examples relevant to the underlying question. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 10 '17 at 1:52
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    You might like to look at the Wikipedia article on the bedtrick, where one party (usually the woman) is substituted for the man's intended wife/lover and he finds himself married to the "wrong" woman - see Leah and Jacob in Genesis. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_trick?wprov=sfla1 – TheHonRose Mar 10 '17 at 2:12
  • I made this more of a history question by putting things into the past tense. – Tom Au Mar 10 '17 at 21:39