Chechen-Ingush - Marriage and Family

Marriage was obligatorily clan-exogamous and usually tribally endogamous. The socially sanctioned form of marriage was by arrangement, but elopement was probably more common. Elopement outwardly resembled capture but was usually arranged in advance with the knowledge and cooperation of the girl's mother; to judge from folklore sources, the girl took the more active role in choosing her partner and making arrangements for the elopement. In arranged marriages the groom, his family, and the bride's family agreed on the union; the consent of the bride was not traditionally required. There was a bride-price, usually payable in livestock. Marriage by kidnapping to avoid the high bride-price, although it could trigger a feud, is reported in some nineteenth-century sources. Among urban families the bride-price now often takes the form of a negotiated gift, usually paid to the young couple in currency, apparently often with a fund-matching contribution from the bride's parents. Divorce is increasingly common, especially in cities. Divorce settlements are made by clan elders; the bride-price can be returned to the husband's family if the wife is deemed to have been at fault, or it may be retained by the wife if the husband was at fault. A divorced or widowed woman with children can generally hope to remarry only if she leaves the children with the husband's family; if she keeps the children, her chances of remarriage are slim because she would be bringing children of another clan into her new husband's household.

A man avoids contact with his wife's parents and observes the etiquette of deference with her brothers and sisters. A woman at first avoids her husband's parents, but after some time—typically by the time the first child is born—she can converse with them. She never mentions the names of her husband's parents or siblings, whether in or out of their presence.

There was no formai adoption. Orphaned children were raised by a father's brother or by the nearest relative in the clan. A childless family might raise a son of the husband's brother as its own. In such cases children were raised in their own clan (and never, for instance, in their mother's clan).

The usual household consists of a nuclear family when space and resources permit.

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