K'iche' - Marriage and Family

In the past, all marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. The father would pick a bride for his son, then he would visit the parents of the bride to build rapport with them. Since the 1950s, more and more people have been choosing their own partners.

There are two main types of households. The most prevalent is the nuclear household consisting of a husband, his wife, and their children. There are instances, however, when an extended family resides patrilocally. This occurs because newly married couples usually reside with the groom's parents until the birth of their first child. The young married couple then forms an independent residence after the birth of their child, if this is financially feasible. If they are unable to leave the household of the groom's parents, then the household ceases to be a nuclear household and becomes a three-generation patrilocal extended family.

Among the K'iche', authority is emphasized in all areas of life. Children are taught to submit to those above them in authority, including their parents. This emphasis can lead to intense intrafamilial tensions.

Inheritance flows from fathers to sons, with the oldest son receiving the largest portion of land. In most cases, the oldest son lives with or near the father and takes ownership of his father's lands after his father's death.

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