The key difference between spouse and partner is that a spouse is a married person, husband or wife, while a partner is not legally married but maintains a domestic partnership or a romantic relationship with another.
When you are talking about dating or relationships, you can use the word partner to refer to your other half. But when you get married, you can use the word spouse to refer to your husband and wife. The relationship between spouses and partners is somewhat different in terms of commitment, obligations, and acceptance in society, especially in traditional societies.
Who is a Spouse?
Spouse is the term we use to refer to the other half or the significant other in a marriage, typically the husband or the wife. Spouses are bound to each other by civil marriage or customary marriage, which is based on the country or the area in which they are living. They enjoy the rights and duties given by the law of the country. Usually, around the world, people find their spouse through love marriages or arranged marriages.
In most of the countries in the world, people who are 18 years and above can get married, thereby entering legally into marriage life. However, in some countries, the situation is different where even children under 15 are allowed to get married with their parents’ consent. If two people get married, they become husband and wife, making them the spouse of the one they are married to. Through marriage, different roles are automatically assigned to the husband and the wife for their contribution in bringing up a family. These roles mostly depend on their culture and traditions. In society, people who are married are allowed to have children if they prefer it, and those children are considered legitimate.
Who is a Partner?
Unlike the word ‘spouse’, the term partner has a wide range of meanings. Partners are people who share common interests, and partnerships can be formed based on monetary considerations as well. However, in this context, partners are mainly considered as people who are not married yet maintain a romantic or sexual relationship with each other. They may live together without marrying. The relationship may be long-term or short-term. Yet the word ‘partner’ can be used for married couples as well.
In a relationship, being partners does not signify any level of commitment or seriousness like being a spouse. One may or may not be serious in his or her commitment towards the other if they associate with each other as partners. The word partner is also free from any gender roles; therefore, both are considered equal with an equal set of duties free from any obligations or pressures from the society. Partners can have children if they want to; however, such situations sometimes create problems especially, in instances where religion, culture, and traditions are considered. The term partner is gender-neutral and can be used to refer to couples of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships as well.
What is the Difference Between Spouse and Partner?
A spouse is a person who is legally married and can be called a husband or a wife. They share different types of household duties assigned to them by culture and traditions. Their relationship is long-term based on commitment. A partner, meanwhile is not married and free from obligations. A partner’s relationship with his/her other half may or may not be serious or committed. It may either be long-term or short-term. Thus, this is the key difference between spouse and partner.
Moreover, partners usually share common interests and maintain a romantic or a sexual relationship with each other and live together. They are considered equal and do not have specific duties assigned to them, unlike in marriage life. However, both spouses and partners can raise children, but in traditional societies, the children of a married couple are more socially accepted and recognized than those of the other.
The following table summarizes the difference between spouse and partner in tabular form.
Summary – Spouse vs Partner
The key difference between spouse and partner is marriage. A spouse is a person who is married and enjoys a long-term relationship based on a commitment with his/her significant other. Meanwhile, a partner is not a married person. A partner’s relationship with his/her other half may be or may not be serious and long-term. Usually, in relationships, partners maintain romantic, sexual relationships and live together.
1. “What Is Partner? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” SearchITChannel, TechTarget, 16 Oct. 2007.