Lithuanians - Marriage and Family

In preindustrial Lithuania, marriage was arranged by matchmakers. Especially for the landholding classes, it was largely an economic union with the bride providing a bargained dowry. During Lithuanian independence, arranged marriages slowly disappeared and were replaced by love matches. The extended family was especially important in rural areas in these periods. In Soviet times, family size was reduced to one or two children per family, and the nuclear family became the norm. These changes took place due to urbanization, collectivization of farms, alcoholism, and the high divorce rate. Eight percent of adult women worked outside the home, in addition to bearing the brunt of the household work. Furthermore, there were extreme housing shortages, and ideological considerations made women unwilling to send children to large, state-run nurseries. In the last twenty years, many couples have married at a younger age, either to register for the very scarce housing or because of premarital pregnancy owing to the lack of birth control. Separate housing was available only to married couples—after an average wait of fifteen years. Abortion was the main means of population control; the typical woman had eight in her lifetime. Divorce rates increased to six out of every ten marriages. Since the turbulent political and economic changes following the reestablishment of independence, marriage and familial trends seem to parallel those of the proximate western European nations-cohabitation and a further decline in the birthrate.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: