Maltese - Marriage and Family



Marriage. There is no rule of village endogamy or exogamy. While postmarital residence ideally is neolocal, the strong tie between mothers and daughters ensures that couples tend to live nearer the wife's parents than those of the husband. However, when the husband's place of work is in his village, as with farmers, shopkeepers, and artisans, the couple will tend to live in the husband's village. Most Maltese now marry in their mid-twenties. Long engagements are Common, as couples work for several years to build and furnish their own house. The age at marriage as well as the scale and cost of wedding receptions have increased markedly during the past thirty years. While legal separation is possible, Divorce is not recognized by the church. Although the church prohibits contraceptive devices, many are legally obtainable. Abortion, though illegal, is fairly widely practiced.

Domestic Unit. The prevalent domestic unit is the Nuclear family, which may include an aging parent or an unmarried sibling. Generally children continue to live with their parents, even as adults, until they marry.

Inheritance. Under Maltese law male and female children inherit equally. Dowry, when given, is an anticipated portion of the inheritance. It remains inalienable. The husband obtains management and usufruct rights, but he cannot sell immovable dowry property without his wife's written consent. If she dies without children, the dowry property passes back to her parental family, unless she wills otherwise.

Socialization. Children are valued and indulged. Although corporal punishment occurs in moments of anger, it is not a common means of discipline. Older persons are Generally respected. Children are respectful and often silent in the presence of their father.


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