Common-law term for the legal status of a married woman. “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing.” In civil practice, her being is merged with that of her husband for many purposes. For example, she may not enter into contracts or lawsuits without his consent, either express or implied, or bear testimony in court. The judge may make limited exceptions, such as giving her the right to contract for a benefit to prevent hardship. Also, if her husband has coerced her to commit a crime, she may be exempt from punishment.