Old Believers - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage in the Russian Orthodox Old Rite is meant to be permanent. The age at marriage has traditionally been seventeen or eighteen, with males usually a year or two older than the females. But in an effort to preserve their traditional ways in a modern setting and to protect the young from becoming attracted to an outsider, the adults have tended to have the young drop out of school after learning the basic educational skills of reading, writing, and figuring. They are often encouraged to marry early, at fourteen to sixteen. The competition for eligible brides in a kin-restricted environment also encourages early marriage. Confronting the young with the adult responsibilities of marriage had the result at first of keeping them traditionally oriented in the faith for the blessing of their marriage and the baptism of their children. Initially effective, it later became a factor in a rise in divorce, a phenomenon for which there is no ready answer in a patriarchal and traditionally religious society. There has been a subsequent effort to discourage early marriage and encourage Instead educational achievement in school. Newlyweds remain in the home of the groom's parents until a child arrives. The new family then builds its own home on the father's land or seeks to buy a home elsewhere.

Domestic Unit. Each family member shares in the Domestic operation of the family and usually contributes money earned from outside work, as long as they are active members of the household. It is common for kin to assist each other within the extended family.

Inheritance. Land is divided among the males of the Family as they acquire families of their own. The youngest male characteristically stays in the parental home, takes care of the aging parents, and inherits the parental home with remaining land. Females of the family may receive livestock, beehives, and so on, but usually not land. In contemporary times, money has become an acceptable form of inheritance or gift.

Socialization. Emphasis is placed on domestic activities, skills, and respect for work ("It is better to work for free than to sit idle for free"). By their early teens, girls are prepared to cook, sew, and rear children, and boys are skilled with tools and machinery. All can read Church Slavonic. Discipline is a domestic and religiously respected virtue. It is authoritatively maintained by denial and punishment of improper behavior. Good behavior is evidenced by proper activities and humility. Television and radios are discouraged. The young, especially males, are allowed some discreet deviations in the larger Society before marriage. But once married, they must assume the traditional way of life.

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