No rigid, formal, traditional institution of marriage and courtship exists for the peoples of the Wildest Peaks. They do not participate in ceremonies to celebrate and officially seal a couple's union, nor do they follow an elaborate system of courtship. Couples are considered married when they move together into a new house apart from their parents and nuclear family. The marriage is expected to be lifelong, monogomous, and, in some areas with particular ethnic groups, heterosexual.
No official system of courtship dictates how two individuals begin romantic involvement. Parents do not participate in the process of selecting potential suitors; the bachelors and bachelorettes grow a relationship by spending time amongst one another. There are no terms within the language for "boyfriend" or "girlfriend," although the concept of a sweetheart is well-understood.
Sex outside of marriage is neither encouraged nor condoned; nevertheless, it is accepted as a regular happenstance without much stigma. Non-marital sex may occur as one night stands, short relationships that are never intended to last, or serious relationships heading toward marriage. Children born outside of wedlock are not approved, but not stigmatized either; there is no stigma for an individual being a "bastard" according to the English definition of the word. Children born from prostitution or rape are those who are regarded as unpleasant "bastards." More on this is discussed in "Familial Relations."
Courtships typically last over a year before a couple marries, and may go as long as several years.
There is no official cultural sense of a couple becoming betrothed. The couple agree to marry one another and then speak to their parents about it. These conversations are done in private, with each child speaking to her/his parents about the desire to marry. They ask if their parents approve of the relationship.
Parents may either accept the marriage and speak their approval and goodwill for the union, or they may express their distaste for such a marriage. It is highly desirable for parents to condone the relationship rather than condemn it, although the couple may override their parents' desires and marry without familial approval. The marriage is generally considered more "secure" and "blessed" if all parents express good emotions toward the relationship.
The time in which a couple is "engaged" - that is, planning to move in and live together in their own house - varies in duration from several days to almost a year. All of it depends upon the couple's financial abilities to procure a house of their own. In a parent-approved relationship, the parents may assist the bride and groom in purchasing and/or constructing a new home. Urban couples must purchase their homes, while rural couples will spend a month or two after their "betrothal" constructing a home for themselves in the village.
Arranged marriages are incredibly rare, even within the upper class. It is assumed that a strong marriage will be between people of similar interests, classes, abilities, and the like. When this does not occur, such as in the union between Xhadouk and Mera, there may be some skeptical public talk. The practice of arranged marriages is mostly isolated to a few minor tribes.
Marriage ceremonies and traditions Edit
Wedding day Edit
The time at which a couple are officially considered married is when they move to live together in their own home apart from their parents and other family members. The day they finally, permanently move into the new home with their belongings in a sort of "housewarming party" is what may be considered the official day of marriage. A marriage that is particularly frowned upon by family and friends may not have this celebration, but the high majority of marriages - especially heterosexual ones - commence with this move-in party. People who celebrate these move-in festivities are considered a bit more "solidly" married than those who forego the tradition.
The move-in day takes place after the couple have moved their belongings into the new building. Then they invite friends and family into the house for a celebration. The couple dress in intricately pattered, fine clothing, while other guests dress up in their best clothes. The family of the bride and groom typically attend to cooking a feast for guests, eaten in the new house. Food is set on the dining mats, and people will come to sit around the dishes when they are hungry. There is no formal eating time; the food is kept out all day for guests.
The celebration lasts all day, and visitors may come and go as they please. While they visit, they may eat food, speak their well-wishes to the couple, and visit the couple's religious shrine in the corner. It is expected to visit the shrine no matter what goddess or god is commemorated in that household; if a guest follows a different deity, they are still expected to pay their respects to the goddess or god of the newlywed's household. The gods expect the couple to acknowledge the union to their deity to gain approval. Embedded within the house itself is a symbol of their union, and the spouses may give one another some heirloom article of clothing to wear as a symbol of their relationship, too. This clothing article, which may be a scarf or jewelry, does not need to be worn at all times.
Most marriages are heterosexual. However, most peoples within the Western Peaks do not oppose homosexual relationships, and will often celebrate marriage move-ins much akin to heterosexual marriage beginnings. Other homosexual couples will not celebrate the move-in day, but once they come to live under one roof, there is an understanding by the public they are romantically together. Because there is some stigma to homosexuals depending upon the people group, they are more likely to have quiet marriage beginnings.
Familial names Edit
Once a couple is married, one of the spouses will take the other's familial name. They will add it to their own. Typically the spouse with the higher social status and reputation will be the name adopted by their partner. The partner will place it before their first familial name, preceded by the title "Shaa."
For example, when Xhadouk ra Garet Rangar married Vilot da Mera, she changed her name to Shaa Xhadouk Vilot da Mera, while the Sovereign kept his name Xhadouk ra Garet Rangar.
In some societies, both partners take the title "Shaa" once they are married. Their children will not have the title "Shaa" unless they are adopted; otherwise, they will take the familial name both spouses now share.
If there is a change in social status by the lesser partner, then they will take on a new article. For instance, if the husband marries an upper class wife, he will change his article from "ro" to "ra."
Marital expectations Edit
There are no clearly outlined duties of what a husband is to do for his wife, or a wife to do for her husband. The people simply practically assume that the husband(s) and wife/wives will be able to work out living together, doing what needs to be done to provide for their children and gain an income. In urban environments, the partner who receives the highest pay may become a breadwinner while the other cares for children, or both parents may continue to work to some capacity. Rural environments, meanwhile, will have the children grow up working in the fields/shops with their parents starting at a young age. Parents will continue to work to subsist and the children will be raised within that.
There is no sense of a wife or husband being superior to the other. They are considered as equals.
Couples are expected to be monogamous. Polyamorous relationships do not exist and are strictly taboo. Cheating and committing adultery within the marriage - and during the informal courtship period when it is clear the couple love one another - is taboo as well. Adultery may be sufficient grounds to warrant a divorce.
Marital trends Edit
Most individuals marry within their own tribe, ethnicity, and Sovereignty. However, typically there is not a huge stigma when a multiracial couple marry. People will moreso question the goodness of a match based upon age gap, social status, and position of authority. The public become suspicious when there is a large age gap, for those who are significantly older tend to be in greater positions of authority; a relationship where one individual is in greater authority than another is considered suspect. The younger and/or less powerful individual is suspected to have been tricked, coerced, or "after something" in the relationship. In the same way, couples of different social classes are not regarded as good matches because they might not understand one another; people believe that these unions form out of lust rather than a solid foundation.
Multiethnic relationships and marriages between followers of different gods does not carry a high negative stimulus.
Marriage does not intersect with government. There are no benefits to marrying in regards to governmental regulations, and the government does not keep a census or record of married couples.
Divorce is not encouraged within society and will cause rumors, but it still occurs. Either party within the relationship may evoke a divorce - regardless of whether or not their spouse desires a divorce. The separation of marriage occurs with the same level of casualness a union does. Divorces occur when the partners quit living together. For this reason, being denied access into one's home by their spouse is an incredibly alarming event. There are situations in which the spouse will only lock the other out for a day or two, but typically this is the signification of a divorce.
Because marriage is not a legal institution to begin with, there also are no legal proceedings for divorces, either. Everything is settled by the separated couple, including distribution of belongings and how their children will be raised. It is not uncommon for the individual who initiates the divorce to keep hold of the high majority of belongings in that house - and to keep a hold of that house, as well. Children of divorced parents will typically be raised by only one of their parents, or that parent plus a new spouse they might marry.
Couples may - and sometimes do - remarry. This happens when the couple return to live under one roof once more. There is not another ceremony for this rejoining, but is considered a more private and delicate manner. It is not exuberantly talked about in conversation to the re-wed couple.
It is perfectly acceptable to marry a different spouse after separating from the first. Notoriously sexually loose, "promiscuous" individuals may have a cycle of people coming to live, stay, and leave their house.