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A wife is a female partner in a continuing marital relationship.
The term continues to be applied to a woman who has separated from her partner, and ceases to be applied to such a woman only when her marriage has come to an end, following a legally recognized divorce or the death of her spouse. On the death of her partner, a wife is referred to as a widow, but not after she is divorced from her partner.
The rights and obligations of a wife in relation to her partner and her status in the community and in law vary between cultures and have varied over time.