Gender Related Social Groups

The family is structured around and relies upon the presence and active participation of both parents. Divorce is taboo and discouraged in Armenia except in cases where there is an extremely abusive husband or when a wife is caught having an extramarital affair. Until recently, most married couples in urban areas lived with the parents of the groom. If there was more than one son in a family, the eldest lived with the parents while the younger sons rented or bought their own homes. Since 1991, between 700,000 and a million people have emigrated from Armenia; departing families often sell their homes. Young married couples are beginning to take advantage of the better housing market to purchase their own homes, and few couples now live with the husband's parents, except in rural and more traditional urban families. It is still shameful for a man to move in with his wife's family. Such men are called "house groom" (dahn pessa) and are thought of as being weak.

Relations with both matrilineal and patrilineal kin groups are maintained, and the relationships individuals have with matrilineal and patrilineal kin varies from family to family. Generally the closest relationships are between same-sex cousins.

For most urban women, their nonkin gender-related social groups are comprised of their friends from high school and college. Until marriage, most young urban women maintain these relationships and consider their friends as confidantes and helpers. After marriage, young women have a difficult time maintaining their friendships because of the double burden of housework and work outside the home. After marriage, women develop friendships with their female neighbors. Female neighbors drink coffee together, smoke cigarettes, and trade gossip. Neighbors also often lend money to one another, baby-sit one another's children for short periods of time, and help each other in preparing feasts.

Nonkin gender-related social groups for men are comprised of their friends from high school and college, as well as their friends from their neighborhoods (tagh) and/or yards. Men are expected to maintain their closer friendships well beyond marriage because these friendships serve as the basis for political advancement and business networking.

In rural areas most women only associate with same-sex cousins and aunts until marriage, and with neighbors and their husband's female cousins after marriage. Rural men associate with their uncles, same-sex cousins, and neighbors both during and after marriage.

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