Courtship and Marriage

As the previous sections have indicated, marriage is the key to full adulthood in rural communities. The beginning of marriage may not be marked by ceremony because marrying is a process that takes approximately 3 years during which at least one child is born. Described in a classic article by Carter (1977), the marriage process begins with sirvisina, living together. Young men and women have considerable independence in choosing a spouse and in deciding whether to break off an unsatisfactory relationship early in sirvisina. If their families agree with the relationship, they acknowledge it by ceremonially locking the couple up together for the night in a vacant room. Couples can also be pushed into marriages that their parents desire by a surprise lock-up. Bride capture, practiced through at least the first half of the 20th century, involved the kidnapping and transport of a young woman (often with her relatives' assistance) to the lock-up site. While less common than mutual choice, this method of beginning marriages also resulted in long-term commitments.

Parents prefer that their children marry people from the same or nearby communities—people whose families are known or related, but not too closely. Young people are strongly discouraged from marrying while working out of the community, and many comply with their parents' desires. Marriage within one's own or a nearby community is the ideal among people who continue to reside in the countryside.

The newly married couple usually live with the young man's parents, but living with the bride's family or alternating between the two also occurs. Bride and groom frequently visit their birth families, even if in a nearby community, so brides are not forcibly isolated from their original homes. Isolation of new brides did occur formerly with bride capture. Increasingly, couples choose neolocal residence, especially if they are employed away from the community.

As previous sections indicate, remarriage is possible for both genders, but much more common for men. The informant's statement that a "woman is the soul of the family" accurately explains a widower's need to seek a new wife. Widows, on the other hand, have achieved the adult status of married woman and mother, and often choose to stay single.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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