Montenegrins - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditionally, marriages in Montenegro were almost always arranged by the parents. Family reputation, not love, was the primary factor in selecting a bride. Virginity Before marriage was highly valued and in some areas the practice of displaying the bloodied wedding sheets as proof of the bride's chastity was common. Some sources note a pattern of "trial" marriage in which consumation of the union was delayed for a period of up to a year. Marriage was an important way to create bonds of friendship between families and to maintain or improve the family's status in the community. Unlike nearby Bosnia, the practice of otmica, or bride capture, was rare in Montenegro. When it did occur, the consent of both families had been quietly prearranged. There was Likewise no pattern of bride-price. Although divorced individuals could remarry within the church, the actual incidence of Divorce was low until after World War II and the establishment of secular reforms in marriage law. Among the most common causes of divorce were sterility or the failure to bear male off-spring, both of which were always seen as the wife's fault. Women could not initiate divorce in the pre-Socialist period. Postmarital residence is typically patrilocal.

Domestic Unit. The basic household and family unit is the patrilocal extended family. Although the most basic term of reference is kuća, meaning simply "house," this area was characterized like much of the Balkans by zadrugas, large extended-family households.

Inheritance. Inherited property traditionally was divided equally among surviving sons, although a widow was entitled to usufruct. Traditionally, in cases where a man had no sons, property that passed instead to daughters was said to "come on the miraz." By contrast, post-World War II legal codes specify bilateral inheritance, although the laws are still frequently circumvented.

Socialization. Corporal punishment is a common means of discipline. Traditional emphasis on respect for elders, Concepts of honor and shame, and conformity to household goals has been eroded in the post-World War II period.

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