Andalusians - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The decision to marry is made by the potential spouses, but not without the active involvement of the Parents of both in the selection process. Courtship is carried out by the men, but it is held that the woman usually initiates it by expressing her interest in a potential suitor through discreet flirting. Although traditional laws stipulating that only church weddings were legitimate have been changed to recognize civil unions, the church wedding is still the rule. Despite the fact that informal liaisons are not officially or religiously recognized, common-law marriage among landless laborers is not unusual, and couples living together in this fashion are often tacitly accepted without serious damage to their reputations as long as they comport themselves as a properly married pair (i.e., maintain a monogamous union). They are expected to make every effort to regularize such a union when a child is imminent. Because of the strong social pressures to conform to the twin precepts of honore and verguenza (honor and shame), adultery and/or premarital sex are traditionally negatively sanctioned—a situation that both church and state have long reinforced. Divorce was legally prohibited until very recently and remains repugnant to the church, but it does happen on occasion. It is much less likely for a wife to try to divorce her husband than for the reverse to occur. Postmarital residence is neolocal but tends to be in the same Community—quite frequently the same neighborhood—as that of the wife's family.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is, minimally, the Nuclear family—a man, his wife, their children. Although this form of household is the most common, extended families do occur and usually consist of a nuclear family and a member or members of the grandparental generation. Even when not coresident, the households of a woman and her married daughter tend to maintain strong ties, based on their close emotional relationship and proximity, which lead to the cooperation of the two in their day-to-day work and personal lives.

Inheritance. In Andalusia, heritable property is divided equally among all heirs, with no distinction made on the basis of order of birth or gender.

Socialization. Child rearing is the responsibility of the mother because the cultural proscription against male participation in the domestic sphere is strong. A father's relationship with his children is generally remote, to the point of formality. This distant relationship remains in place even after a son achieves maturity. In early childhood, the motherchild tie is very strong, but it gradually weakens between mother and son as the boy approaches his teenage years. At this time, young men are expected to begin to establish an increasingly "public" identity, spending greater and greater amounts of time away from the house in the company of their male contemporaries. Still, however much independence a young man achieves, as a "good son" he is expected to revere his mother throughout his life. A daughter rarely undergoes such a separation from her mother. Rather, upon reaching puberty a daughter is expected to retire further and further into the life of the casa, lest she risk incurring gossip. Thus, the mother-daughter bond is strengthened, rather than weakened, as the daughter achieves adulthood.

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