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Selection Of Partners

Slovakia was predominantly rural until the middle of the twentieth century. Custom and social status determined how people would find their future wife or husband, usually in the same or nearby village and from a family of similar social level. The parents were the ones who decided who would be their future son- or daughter-in-law. In the urban areas these rules were not so precise nor were they strictly followed. Urban marriages were also more heterogeneous (Stefanek 1944).

Social progress, supported by urbanization and industrialization, promoted new values that were considered important in the process of the selection of a partner. The significance of wealth and the parents' aims receded and the personal interests of the young couple became a priority.

During the period of socialism (1948–1989) economic self-sufficiency, as the basic prerequisite for getting married and establishing a family, became less important. Social policy became supportive, especially towards young families. These policies enhanced access to housing and allowed for state loans on favorable terms to newlyweds. FIGURE 1 These measures and the lack of sexual education, as well as the fact that contraception was neglected, resulted in marriages at early ages. Approximately 50 percent of brides became pregnant before their wedding (Vagac 2000). Many of these were students without their own independent income. It became an expectation that the parents of a young couple would provide assistance, usually financial. Approximately 90 percent of young families depended on such assistance (Bútorová 1996).

Before 1990, the average age for brides was about twenty-one years at marriage (first marriages) and about twenty-three years for bridegrooms. During the 1990s, the average age of women and men at their first marriage rose, and by 1999 the average age of brides was 23.1 years, whereas the average age of bridegrooms rose to 25.6 years. About 85 percent of women and 83 percent of men were living in their parents' home before marriage (Bútorová 1996). These changes were caused both by the increased opportunity to study, to travel, and gain employment abroad after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain and by the deterioration of living conditions among young people. Despite the fact that unmarried cohabitation of young couples is not the preferred form, it has become increasingly common.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsSlovakia - Marriage, Selection Of Partners, Termination Of Marriage, Changes In The Family, Standard Of Living - Family Contacts and Relations