Pairbonding and Marriage
In the Realms, marriage is an abstract concept; the terms 'husband' and 'wife' do not exist, replaced by the all-encompassing term of 'pairbond' for all humanoid cultures. True pairbonding is seen as a bond of love between soulmates - a twining of the golden threads of connection tying a pair together for as long as such love exists. Most often, a pairbond is formed over time - often multiple months or years - as love grows between two individuals. Often romanticized as 'true love' in popular tales and stories, it is never formed over short periods of time and does not stem from simple infatuation. This may happen between individuals of any gender, and is also possible between multiple races.
Breaking a pairbond is a very rare, and often incredibly painful ordeal - there are a number of sources that say to attempt such is to court death, and the broken pair is often left heavily depressed no matter their reasons for splitting. Though a broken pairbond may be repaired, it is an arduous ordeal, and may not succeed. The effects of a break may be covered under 'severance and death' below.
False pairbonds, or arranged pairbonds, are less common but do exist. They lack the mental bond and deep love a true pairbond has, and may take many years to evolve into a proper pairbond of any significance. Should a false pairbond fail and the couple separate, there is no mental backlash or broken-bonded pain.
In Evylon, the Halgians and the elves have specific pairbonding rituals. A true pairbond needs no ceremony, though some cultures may hold something at the couple's request; this is most prolific among the Halgian people and the elves (linked below). Other cultures or individual couples may hold a small ceremony, often an exchange of gifts, with wedding jewelry being the most common. Some may have another preside over the ceremony, and tie a ribbon about the hands of the pairbonded.
Most often, and in most cultures, a pairbond is only between two individuals. However, very rarely, multiple pairbonds - called 'poly pairbonds' - may be established between three or more individuals, so long as the bond is similarly strong. This is often frowned upon, and is treated with shock; as it is so very rare, most do not know how to react. This does not apply to animalistic species that take multiple mates, or false pairbonds.
pairbonding in animalistic species
Animalistic species - such as dragons, gryphons, and wolves - may also pairbond, and many do for lifelong partners. However, very few are called 'pairbonded', and are instead known simply as mates. As there is no terminology to differentiate a pairbonded couple from one that has yet to form such a bond, it can be difficult to ascertain if an animalistic couple is true-bonded or not. Most do not even acknowledge the terminology.
severance/death of a pairbond
The abrupt severance of a pairbond is devastating; often, it can be both physically and mentally debilitating for varying periods of time. When the bond is suddenly, violently severed, the threads of the mind may snap back and damage one's mind, and in many cases the damage done may be irreparable. Recovery from this break can be many years long, and the pain may linger for many years more.
The death of a pairbond may have a similar effect, depending on how sudden such a death is. Death from old age may be nearly painless for the surviving member; death from known and expected illness carries none of the horrific agony associated with unexpected and rapid death. After recovery, individuals may pairbond again - if they find another in which the same love may be fostered and true-bonded.