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"It'S Better In The Bahamas": From Relationship Initiation To Marriage

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Andrew Raymond

"It's Better in the Bahamas": From Relationship Initiation to Marriage

HW #3

Kate Kuvalanka, Ph.D.

FSW 361

April 10, 2007

Marriage is an important step in the life of nearly every human on earth. Different cultures have different rituals and beliefs about marriage. Love, economic status, religious beliefs, political views, and social acceptance are just a few reasons individuals marry across differing cultures.

700 islands and 2,000 cays make up the Bahaman Islands. Located off the southeast coast of Florida, the Bahaman Islands rely heavily on tourism, off-shore banking, and fishing as primary means of income. Because of the intimacy of the surrounding islands, people typically know one another from a young age, and frequently meet in school, youth groups, or at island festivals. Parents often encourage young children to wait until after high school to begin dating, but usually contact occurs before this time with flirting, phone conversations, and note passing.

Young people often choose partners on characteristics similar to those of U.S. young people. Women desire mates who are loving and faithful. They would also like the man to have a life plan. They prefer the man to have a home of his own prior to marriage so they do not have to live with of the sets of parents. Men prefer women who are attractive inside and out. They also desire a mate from a respectable family, and shares the same values as themselves. Couples often come from the same community because they are hesitant towards the unknown.

Bahamians have very few choices when it comes to dating activities. Organized activities and church events provide important settings for dating couples. The beach often provides an intimate setting for couples to walk and talk. Couples who have financial means often choose to go off the island. Cars play a huge role in dating as well. Although most places are within walking distance, the car is convenient and plays a status role on the island. Sexual intercourse usually occurs early in relationships, often around the age of 14 or 15. Intercourse before marriage is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

Fifty years ago, engagement was signaled by the man sending a letter and a ring to the young lady and her family. This letter was considered a legally binding document. This practice has become more informal, but it is still expected that the man will ask permission of the young lady's parents before asking for marriage. The ring also continues to play an important role in the engagement process. Rings often range from $500 to more than $5,000.

As is common in the U.S., bridal showers and "stag parties" or bachelor parties are common events prior to the wedding. At the bridal shower, the bride-to-be is literally given a shower usually by a hose or bucket of water. The remainder of the party is filled with food and games.



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