Anthropologists have suggested that marriage systems are basically communication systems, and geographers have attempted to relate marriage patterns to an evolving market system. Whether the marriage is between a couple belonging to groups of equal status or between a woman of lower and a man of higher status groups, an elaborate code governs the behaviour of all participants. Marriage is undoubtedly the most significant event in the life of a rural girl and affects her wellbeing for the greater part of her existence, particularly in east and south Asia. A survey of the ethnographic material organized by Lebar, Hickey and Musgrave reveals that, for the majority of the tribal peoples of southeast Asia, marriage is based on free choice; premarital sex is not usually frowned upon. In patrilineal societies where inheritance of property, particularly lands is an important issue, marriage is expected to be enduring and the views of the partners have consequently been of lesser concern.