Marital unity

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Marital unity is the principle at common law in England and the United States that man and wife are one in the eyes of the law. For example, anything said between a man and wife was privileged and beyond the reach of the law, just as statements by someone to his attorney are privileged. Either spouse could object in court to an attempt to obtain hurtful testimony from the other spouse.

Over time the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have weakened the principle of marital unity, although there do remain some protections for the husband-wife relationship.

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