Marriage. Marriage is forbidden between the owning susu of a village and between cross cousins; thus villages are exogamous, though localities tend to be endogamous. Premarital sex is permitted and adolescent promiscuity is the norm, though the anthropologist Reo Fortune characterized Dobuans as prudish in speech and public behavior. A betrothed couple work hard for a year for their respective inlaws. Marriage is marked by a series of exchanges of cooked and uncooked food, pork, fish, and game between the contracting villages and by a gift of arm shells from the groom's to the bride's group. Intervillage exchanges also occur annually in the name of each married couple. Ideally, marriage exchanges balance in the long run. Monogamy was the norm and polygyny was practiced by only a few wealthy men ( esa'esa ). Dobu is renowned for the practice of bilocal residence in which a couple live alternately, for a year at a time, in the village of each spouse in turn. Affines show great respect to village owners, but friction between the owning susu and incoming spouses gives rise to quarreling, village "incest," and attempted suicide. Fortune regarded the practice of bilocal residence as a compromise between the demands of the susu and those of the conjugal unit, though he judged it more destructive of the latter. Divorce is very frequent in Dobu. Bromilow listed twenty-two reasons for divorce (including "filthy language"), but Fortune accounted the commonest cause to be "cut-and-run adultery" with a village "sister" or "brother." Affines are feared as likely witches and sorcerers. In the revised edition of his book Fortune offered another interpretation of bilocal residence, stating that it is associated with an annual exchange of yams for arm shells between resident susu wives and their nonresident husbands' sisters.
Domestic Unit. The household normally comprises a married couple and their young children. Adolescent girls remain with their parents until marriage, but at puberty boys go to sleep elsewhere, usually with the girls of neighboring villages. After a man's death his children are prohibited from entering his village.
Inheritance. Village land, fruit trees, and most garden lands are inherited matrilineally. The corpse and skull of a person belong to the susu, as do personal names. Canoes, fishing nets, stone blades, ornamental valuables, and other personal property also descend within the susu. Magic, however, can pass from a father to one of his sons (as well as to his rightful heir), a practice that Fortune regarded as "subversive" of the susu.
Socialization. Both parents rear young children, and they are usually strict. Children avoid harsh treatment by taking refuge with their mother's sister and her husband, who are indulgent. Between ages 5 and 8, a boy has his earlobes and nasal septum pierced by his father or mother's brother, and about this time he is given a small garden plot of his own, and he may even be taught fragments of magic. At age 10 he is no longer struck for punishment, lest he (imitating his father) break his mother's cooking pots or (imitating his mother) behave cruelly to his father's dog. Boys of this age learn to throw and dodge spears, and by the time they are 14 they have begun to learn love magic and to sleep with girls. Fortune says little about the socialization of young girls.