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Soviet Union

Male-Female Relationships

Male-female relationships in the Soviet Union reflected not only the stresses generally present in urban and industrial societies, plus those peculiar to communist societies, but also the influence of different cultural traditions. Predictably, the nonRussian Central Asian and Caucasian nationalities exhibited more traditional attitudes regarding marriage, divorce, and abortion than did the European population of the country.


Unless specified otherwise by the laws of the individual republics, Soviet citizens may marry at age eighteen without parental permission. The Latvian, Estonian, Moldavian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Kazakh, and Kirgiz republics have lowered this age to seventeen years. In 1980 approximately 73 percent of the brides and 62 percent of the grooms were under twenty-five years of age. Onethird of all marriages involved persons under twenty years of age, and in 20 percent of the marriages involving persons under that age the bride was pregnant.

In the larger cities, newly married couples often lived with either set of parents; often the honeymoon consisted of a short private stay in the parents' home. About 70 percent of childless young couples lived with parents during the first years of marriage because of low income or a shortage of housing.

Cultural compatibility played a larger role in the selection of a mate than did race, religion, occupation, or income. Soviet surveys also pointed to love, mutual attraction, and common interests as important reasons given for marriage. British sociologist David Lane has observed that "companionship" between spouses has been a more important notion in the West than in the Soviet Union, where couples have often taken separate vacations while the children were sent to camp.

Data as of May 1989