Marriage. Marriages are defined from two points of view: they are alliances between spouses but also between two exogamous clans. The first alliance is evident in the practical arrangements of setting up a household, and the second is expressed in ritual and healing practices. More than one-third of all men and a majority of all women are married polygynously. Although the number of men with four or more wives has decreased since the precolonial and early colonial period, it is possible that the total number of people married polygynously is increasing in the rural areas, as in many other Kenyan societies. The amount of bride-wealth has remained the since the mid-twentieth century, but the time taken to hand over the ten to fifteen head of cattle has changed, from almost immediately after the birth of the first child to an extensive period of more than twenty years. Postmarital residence tends to be virilocal for women and neopatrilocal for men, who soon move into a new home on family land. Divorce is rare; even marriages said to end in divorce are often reconciled when the estranged wife returns after an extended period of time. Bride-wealth helps constrain the incidence of divorce because a man who receives cattle through his sister's marriage would have to return the bride-wealth (on which his own marriage depends) if her divorce were finalized. The result is a series of disrupted marital exchanges.
Domestic Unit. Domestic groups are established among the Iteso when a man marries a woman for the first time. Shortly thereafter they set up a spatially independent household, but under normal conditions, the husband's mother supervises her daughter-in-law. Most Iteso men strive for more than one wife; polygynous unions are frequent, but in the late twentieth century they have been opposed by women. Households are composed of separate "houses" composed of mothers and their children. Cattle from bride-wealth are supposed to belong to this "house." Relations between full siblings are the most solidary in Iteso society. Children leave their natal household at marriage, and women most often go to live with their youngest son when he has married, effectively separating husband and wife at the end of their married life. As a result, Iteso households are complex but not generationally extended. Scarcity of land may change this pattern in areas where population is especially dense.
Inheritance. Men leave three kinds of property: land, cattle, and personal property such as shops and cash. Sons assume the right to family land when they marry; when an elder dies, any remaining land is divided among his unmarried sons. Cattle are inherited by the sons of each mother. Men may control the cattle that come into "houses" through their daughters' marriages, but at death only the full brothers of the married daughter have inheritance rights to these cattle and to cattle assigned to their mother from their father's residual herd. Male children without the cattle they must have before they can marry may be given excess cattle belonging to another "house." Other property is divided equally among all the sons. Women do not inherit male property, only female personal property such as clothing and household effects.
Socialization. Socialization is not elaborately ritualized among the Iteso. Weaning occurs at about 1 to 2 years of age. Children are indulgently treated until they go to school or begin to take up work tasks. Marriage is the most abrupt transition for women; it is somewhat traumatic—especially if it is with a much older man. Men's status transitions are easier because they do not move far away from their natal households. Attending boarding school, which is common in Kenya for the children who manage to get to a secondary school, may likewise be a traumatic experience. The primary context for local cultural learning was the grandmother's hut, where many children used to spend considerable time learning folklore and customs, enjoying storytelling and the expressive arts. The expansion of schooling has severely attenuated this significant setting for socialization. As a result, many young people currently grow up with very limited knowledge of their culture. Formal schooling will probably bring about extensive changes in the body of Iteso knowledge.