Rape within marriage is not always recognized as a problem; in fact, it is not always recognized as being possible. Many legal systems exclude the wife of the offender as a victim of rape, since marriage by definition includes sexual relationships. When a man married a women, he received the right to have sexual intercourse with her under any conditions he chose. If he was not married and raped a women, he had only to marry her afterwards to make adequate reparation in society's eyes. The crime of rape was seen as a crime of honour: only the victim's honour was damaged, and that could be restored by marriage.
Forced sexual relations between spouses have alarming implications, however. Many women continue to live in a brutalized relationship because of their uncertain economic future should they leave their husbands, or due to a fear of the negative attitude commonly held about a woman whose partnership has disintegrated. Although it is usually both partners who contribute to the failure of a relationship, it is most often the man who uses physical aggression and thus turns a tense or broken relationship into a violent one.