Marriage Arrangements Brideprice Grooms Service and Tradition Based Marriage Ceremonies

The pattern whereby men continue to work together within their families and with their fathers, brothers, and uncles as their primary allies, while women marry away from their original support base and must develop a new support base, is illustrated best through a description of the marriage process. (This discussion of courtship and marriage is based on Jolles [2002, pp. 121-149] and Jolles and Kaningok [1991].) Marriage itself was once arranged by senior elders, and contemporary gender concepts and living patterns reflect older patterns common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One aspect of marriage was lineal and clan alliance. Only since the late 1960s has it become accepted for young people to "marry for love." Marriages in 2002 still included a "buying" ceremony in which the groom's ramket (clan group) collected gifts to be presented to the bride's ramket, particularly to the members of the bride's lineage. While no strict rules of exogamy apply in the village, the two largest clans, Pugughileghmiit and Aymaramka, regularly perform "buying" ceremonies and arrange marriages between them. A groom's work period (a local term for what is usually referred to in the anthropological literature as "bride service") of 1 year is combined with temporary matrilocal residence in the bride's father's home. A return gifting ceremony concludes the temporary residence period and the married couple return to the groom's family, escorted by the bride's patrilineage. In 2002, traditional marriage was reinforced, upon completion, with marriage in one of the two local churches, either the Presbyterian Church or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The bride, having become a wife, gave up her close ties to her father's patrilineage and assumed membership in her husband's father's household. Her name, once included among those in her father's line, could be added to the roster of names in her husband's lineage. She began instructions from her mother-in-law and her husband's patrilateral aunts (his father's unmarried sisters and his father's brothers' wives). Her husband's family then expected her to allow her girlhood friendships and ties with the female relatives of her father's lineage to diminish and new friendships to develop with his unmarried sisters and his sisters-in-law. When a bride received meat brought home by her husband and his male relatives to distribute, she was expected to distribute to the women of her husband's lineage, while it remained her husband's respectful duty to make sure that his new bride's mother received some of his catch.

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