Marriage. Amish couples are expected to remain married to the mates they select as young adults. The Amish church depends on the biological reproduction of its members rather than on acquiring new members through proselytization. There is thus a strong commitment to marrying within the church, although females tend to move outside the district since males usually inherit the family farm. Despite the fact that mate choice is limited to other church members, the young people do not necessarily choose to marry close relatives. The high inbreeding of the Amish population results not from marriages between first cousins but from the Intermarriages that have occurred over generations within a genetically isolated group.
Baptism into the church is preliminary to marriage. Courtship tends to be a private matter prior to the wedding announcement by the minister. A wedding, on the other hand, is a public affair celebrated in anticipation of certain benefits that will accrue to the entire community. Members of the congregation see the marriage as an end to a sometimes spirited adolescence and expect to have the couple's home as a new place for the Sunday service; they also look forward to more children who will be raised in the Amish way. Guests give household gifts; parents may provide livestock, furniture, and equipment to help the young people get started.
Where a newlywed couple resides depends on the Opportunity to continue farming in the traditional manner. This may mean working in a factory until enough savings have been accumulated to invest in a farm of their own. If the couple remains on the family farm, their parents may, at retirement, move to a separate house on the property and Eventually leave the management of the farm to the younger couple. No provision is made for divorce, nor is separation a part of Amish expectations for conformity to church-based rules of behavior.
Domestic Unit. As previously mentioned, each family member contributes to the working of the family farm. Although married couples share in the responsibilities of child rearing and of running the household and farm, the prevailing authority rests with the husband.
Inheritance. Land tends to be kept within families and is usually passed on to sons rather than to daughters and to younger rather than to older sons.
Socialization. Individuals are prepared for all stages of life, including aging, under Amish patterns of socialization. The primary goals of child rearing are the acquisition of practical skills, the instilling of responsibility to the Amish Community, and an emphasis on respect for hard work. Young people may be hired out to relatives or other church members after they are trained on the family farm and in the household. Parents often allow adolescents to explore the outside world and test the boundaries of Amish identity. Family and community may therefore overlook the ownership of radios, cameras, even automobiles, by young people as well as their going to the movies and wearing non-Amish clothes. Such deviations are ignored in order that the young may freely decide on Marriage and membership within the church community. About one-quarter leave the church, but most join more progressive Amish or Mennonite churches.