Courtship and Marriage

Traditional descriptions of Puerto Rican courtship note that a young man interested in a girl had to request a permission of the girl's parents to ask her out socially and was never permitted to be alone with her. They had to be chaperoned at dances and social events. In order to marry, the approval of both sets of parents, in particular the father's, was necessary. These customs have almost disappeared from current Puerto Rican courtships. While curfews and a greater attention to female protection are present, many Puerto Ricans can go out and date without significant supervision. However, females are more closely guarded and supervised than males. Males and females can both choose their partners, but usually families like to be consulted and maintain some form of approval. Many Puerto Ricans continuously migrate to and from the U.S. mainland. This has also pushed for Puerto Rican courtship patterns to resemble many of those found on the U.S. mainland.

There is a great deal of social expectation for both men and women to marry or have a committed relationship with the other sex. If they do not, it is assumed that there is something wrong with them. Marriage and motherhood are seen as essential elements in a Puerto Rican woman's life. Marriage is conceptualized as being of great consequence for Puerto Ricans because of its connections to both a Catholic religious sacrament and family formation. However, it is important to point out that Puerto Ricans have had a long history of informal unions which are considered a form of marriage and can be likened to common-law marriages (Landale & Ogena, 1995). This is in particular true of people in the lower socioeconomic classes.

Sayings such as men "son de la calle" (are of the streets) basically express the sentiment that men should come and go as they please. Men are and should be allowed to socialize outside family settings, and the time they spend out of the home is not monitored. The male spends much time outside the home working, in recreational activities, or in political or extramarital affairs. Men have the privilege and freedom to have an affair while women are expected to tolerate it (Acosta-Belén, 1986). Infidelity on the wife's part is seen as an affront to a man's dignity and honor. Women are considered to be morally or spiritually superior to men, which gives them the capacity to endure all the suffering and abuse inflicted by men. Moreover, a female's love for a male is demonstrated through complete trust and martyrdom. Divorce is seen negatively with the failure of the marriage seen as failures in the marital pair, in particular the wife (Muñoz-Vázquez, 1980). She is faulted for the personal failing of being unable to maintain a marriage. Marriage and divorce among Puerto Ricans have not been adequately studied.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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