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Can someone please tell me if 連れ添う which I have read that it also means "to marry", "becoming man and wife", "to become a couple" has another kind of nuance compared to the typical word 結婚 ? Because I haven't many resources to get a better understanding, can I assume that 連れ添う can be used to describe a couple, as in, they love each other and live together but not necessarily being married (they didn't have an official wedding ceremony).
There is this character, a woman, in a manga that said: 長く連れ添ったわ.
She said this about the man she stayed with for many years until he passed away. I also want to add that the woman is a vampire who lived for hundreds of years and I do question if she actually married the man.
That's why I believe that she said 連れ添う, to emphasize that she just stayed faithfully by the man's side for a long time and she didn't have to become his wife or anything. Please tell me your opinions!

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The original meaning of 連れ添う is simply "to accompany". Sometimes it can refer to something totally unrelated to marriage. For example, 連れ添って歩く usually just means "to walk next to each other." 連れ添い is often interchangeable with mere 付き添い, depending on the context. This means you can safely use 連れ添う with someone who are not legally a husband and a wife.

When 連れ添う means something related to marriage (or de facto marriage), it's closer to "to live together as a couple" rather than "to become a husband and a wife". It describes a continuous action, but not a change of state. By contrast, 結婚する is often described as an instant state-change (aka punctual) verb like 知る.

  • 彼は結婚している。 He is married.
  • 彼は連れ添っている。 (weird)
  • 彼は妻と長年結婚してきた。 (weird)
  • 彼は妻と長年連れ添ってきた。 He has been with his wife for a long time.

Finally, 結婚する is a matter-of-factly, plain verb. 連れ添う is more literary or romantic, and implies the spiritual bond between the two.

  • Thank you! "連れ添う is more literary or romantic, focusing on the spiritual bond between the two", this is what I was thinking about, just like you said! This really helps me out to explain something about the characters! – Alice B. Rabbit Sep 21 '17 at 12:24

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