Mekeo - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Most villagers marry within their tribe, but by rule they must marry someone outside their own clan and their mother's clan. In the past, parents arranged the matches of their children prior to cohabitation. Most couples today elope, so the marital exchanges of pigs and other wealth Between in-laws take place after the birth of the first child. Under Catholic influence, relatively few marriages are polygynous, and divorce is fairly uncommon. In precontact times, divorce was also probably rare, because of the bride-wealth payments accompanying arranged marriages. Postmarital Residence is patrivirilocal by rule.

Domestic Unit. Mekeo households usually consist of a man, his wife, their unmarried children (excepting bachelor sons), and, once he marries, the eldest son, his wife, and their children. Kin of various other types are frequently included, however. In most daily activities, members of a household cooperate closely. In households with more than one married woman, couples garden on discrete plots, and each wife prepares food separately at her own hearth. Unmarried sons living in bachelors' dormitories or in the clan clubhouse contribute only minimal effort to household labors and receive little of its fruits.

Inheritance. Rights held by men with respect to house sites, garden land, shells and other valuables, magical spells and paraphernalia, and hereditary titles are ideally passed patrilineally. Eldest sons hold a distinct advantage over their younger brothers. Women's durable wealth in clay pots and cooking utensils is inherited by their sisters and daughters. Intimate personal property of both men and women is ritually destroyed in funeral ceremonies.

Socialization. Grandparents, siblings, and other kin help raise young children. Weaning and the arrival of a younger sibling coincide with the fairly abrupt withdrawal of maternal indulgences. A child is encouraged thereafter to find its primary gratification in the play and company of its peers. Elder siblings are held responsible for their juniors, and, above all, sharing is emphasized. Boys and girls are reinforced Differentially from early ages. At marriage, many young women suffer sudden trauma in being separated from their lifelong playmates.

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