Syrian Christian of Kerala - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Syrian Christians are monogamous and strict community endogamy is maintained. Arranged marriage is still practiced, although prospective spouses are consulted about the marriage proposal. Today, quite a few marriages take place by self-choice and the families simply go through the formalities of arranging the marriages. There are no cross-cousin marriages. As residence is patrilocal, soon after Marriage the wife will start living in the husband's house. Whenever they are able to move out to a separate household, they do so; but, if there is only one son in the family, parents may continue to reside with the couple. Divorce is rare due to the Christian tradition of permanent marriage. However, there are a few cases in which women are asserting their individuality by separating from their husbands, especially when they are well educated and not willing to accept a subservient role as housewives. Divorces are not yet statistically significant.

Domestic Unit. Husband, wife, and children constitute a family. Men as a rule take the responsibility of working outside the home and the women's role is primarily in the family home, except for professional women who have an active role outside the home. The nuclear family is now increasingly replacing the two- or three-generation extended family.

Inheritance. Property is traditionally divided among the sons. The youngest son is given the family home where he stays with the parents. However, in view of the recent Indian supreme court decision in favor of equal division of property, the future division of property will change.

Socialization. Both parents have responsibility for disciplining children. Fathers tend to be more strict than mothers. There is less emphasis on physical punishment due to Modern education. Girls are more strictly controlled by the parents than the boys. Parents are willing to make a considerable effort to encourage children's education, especially professional education like medicine and engineering where competition for admission to schools is quite keen. Women are quite successful in all professions and compete on equal terms with men.

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