Patchwork Caucasian love

Romance in the Caucasus, many older people associated with the film “the Caucasian captive”: the stormy passions, the beautiful traditions and customs. The younger generation — loud stories about the violation of women’s rights in “the wedding of the century” court cases of abduction of women and “honour killings”.

Generational differences in gender relations and attitudes are obvious and in the North Caucasus. In the older generation were common “contractual weddings”, when the young do not see each other until the day of the wedding, and the marriage was arranged by their relatives.

Many of those with whom I have spoken in the Caucasus, you hear stories about the wedding of the parents with a sense of humor. For example, Mohammad from Ingushetia recalls the story of his father, who one day, returning from work in the field, met on the road his friends, who told him that his family found him a bride and he is already scheduled wedding. The young man was a little excited: who is this girl, like she him? However, upon arriving home, he learned that it was familiar to him, a neighbor, and was very happy. Were the father of the girl, Muhammad did not bother to ask.

The modern young generation, such stories are rare. The young prefer to choose their own spouses for love. But there are some exceptions, especially by young men who believe that it is better to trust such a serious matter as the choice of a wife, mom or aunt.

The romance of the highlanders

The theme of romance and love has always existed in the North Caucasus. All races have their beautiful legends of the local “Romeo and Julietta”, many families have their own stories of acquaintance and relations grandmothers and grandfathers. However, sometimes it’s a story about forbidden love and simple, about the ban on marriage of the parents, separation or a forced break with the family (which often happened if the girl or boy had found the second half a different nationality or religion). Indeed, listening to these stories, it seems that watching Turkish TV series, where the raging passions, tears, horsemen riding on horses, and women yearn evenings under the mulberry tree.


While in the real everyday in many Nations remains unspoken (and sometimes fixed by the ADAT, local codes of conduct) ban on public expression of feelings and emotions. This is especially true of men’s behaviour. On people it is not fitting to show love not only to his wife, but even to children. It is believed that emotion is an exclusively female trait. The same rules are governed by other spheres of relations between men and women — Dating, meeting, Dating, courtship, behavior at his own wedding.

Elaborate ritual system was formed in the Caucasus long before the revolution and lasted throughout the Soviet era. She was determined, as should be Dating, were asked the distance that a man can approach the woman and ordered, including the presence at weddings separate tables (or rooms) for men and women. In the last two decades with the collapse of the economy and the ongoing armed conflicts in the Caucasian republics the role of these rules significantly weakened, replaced or Islamic ethics or secular values.

Now gender relations in the Caucasus represent a patchwork, consisting of different compliant pieces: traditional beliefs and the strict requirements of the pre-Islamic rituals can co-exist with the European practices; deliberately far physical distances on a date organically coexist with votsap-flirting.

Romanticism or pragmatism?

The dream of “European” romance more prevalent among girls. They are beautiful love stories, chivalry, attention, gifts and flowers. A major role in the development of new conceptions about what are relationships played foreign series: in 90-e years it was a Mexican soap Opera, then Indian movies and, finally, the Turkish soap operas.

Men just laugh at these expectations, and the sound of loud series, roll their eyes and flee in a hurry to the courtyard, where you can stand and talk in the company of men. The Caucasian code of masculinity does not imply excessive sentimentality, and even sincere lovers of the young men are afraid to seem too sensitive. Some admit they do not understand and do not know what those mysterious creatures — women — preferring reckless love-pragmatics relations. Therefore, I ask the women relatives to find them a suitable spouse, meaning by this a girl from a good family, household, with an impeccable reputation.

One man from Dagestan in the conversation admitted that he is seriously concerned about the search for a suitable spouse, to get married because it is time for the age, and want a family atmosphere and a caring wife. I objected, noting that not all girls are eager to stand at the stove and be Housewives, and told me that my husband quite independently runs his hands through his shirts, and cooks for himself because he loves meat and I vegetables; and that in General I am often on business trips, so the whole house on it.

As my story your face got more and more stunned, and I felt as his lips were about to lose an honest question: “So why did he even marry you?!” I had to sell myself and convince him that my husband loves me not thrift, but because I’m beautiful and smart. Buddy, however, is not impressed. It is understandable — the beauty pass, and khinkal is always on the table need!

Pragmatism Caucasian men is not only that they make wife almost exclusively for having children and farming. My question about what the gesture in a relationship they think is the most romantic, some interviewees strongly stated that it is very romantic to steal your favorite girl. But does not the stranger, proskakal her on a white horse and wrapped her in a brocade carpet.

Thefts often occur by agreement, and it is an alternative to a costly wedding. The boy with the girl to agree when and where he will pick her up on the “Lada-prior” with his friends. On YouTube there are hundreds of such videos, which came to the University by car boys grab the girl, shove her in the back seat of the car, she screams and pretended to resist. Then the bride’s parents declared that the girl is with them, and if the girl confirms that he agrees to stay, all at odds with the world. This family save a couple of million rubles, which is supposed to spend on a lavish wedding and invite all relatives. Of course, there are the real theft is when a girl is taken against her will, and then the problems begin, which can lead to many years of hostility between the two family-related clans.

To them the story of the kidnapping is not very much. They want a beautiful wedding, white dress, and before that — courtship, flowers, Grand gestures. But in the face of unprecedented high unemployment and low wages in the Caucasian republics in a Grand gesture is not enough money for many. Therefore, more and more girls discover a new romance, where the main value is the attention and care from the loved one. “I don’t care about flowers and gifts, says 30-year-old Madina from Chechnya. — But to bring medicine when I’m sick, or say, “go get some rest, I’ll do the housework” — is the ultimate manifestation of romanticism, which I would like to see on the part of the husband.” And some girls believe that men give flowers not sincere, but because I “must” say that would have appreciated such a gesture probably without reason, and not on 8 March or February 14.

Women’s happiness

One of the main questions that we asked interviewees in our study, there was a question about if they feel happy. To our surprise he was met with strong opposition and misunderstanding, especially among older people. In the best case, we received multiple, common response: “Well of course, I have a family and children, what more do you need?”

The importance of the family in the republics is so high that unmarried young men and women of lower social status, though they have not yet begun to live. Therefore, the approach of the 25th anniversary relatives and friends increasingly start to ask the question “When, when, when, when?” The family is perceived as the main value and purpose in life. Regret especially single women, sympathetically shake their heads. In some republics not long marrying a girl is still a burden for her brother, who, according to traditional rules, should be responsible for her honor, until you give her safely to her husband.

Young modern women, this situation is beginning to cause protest. After watching bad fate and divorces older sisters or other female relatives, they decide to get an education and become economically independent before thinking about marriage. As a result, many girls decide not to marry at all, despite strong pressure from relatives and public opinion. Among them are those who are fundamentally configured to search the second half of beyond the Caucasus, for a man to share egalitarian principles in the relationship. But there are also opposite trends, when girls receive a higher education just because the bride with a degree has a better chance to find a rich boyfriend, and investing in yourself mean expensive clothes and plastic surgery to improve the nose and the “pumping” of the lips.

Rapid urbanization in recent decades has led to another trend — the destruction of multigenerational families and the aspiration of the young to live separately. With this grow and individualistic values of autonomy, independence in building a life strategy. Public opinion is a formidable weapon of social control — more difficult to penetrate in a particular apartment, where lives a young family. Consequently, a growing number of different “gender contracts”, where there are options for responsible fatherhood, families with dvuhkonturniy babysit.

If I were a Sultan

Men also found their life hacks for the implementation of a romantic relationship. If before love was more synonymous with gratitude and affection or separated from family and existed in the form of links on the side, then to the Caucasus of polygamy, the role of the beloved was given to the second wife. Married, on the recommendation of relatives and having the desired number of children, a man finds romantic attraction to a beautiful young lady.

It happens that the existence of the first wife she has no clue until the marriage (Islamic marriage). According to Sharia a man may marry up to four wives, provided that they all get the same amount of his attention and wealth.

For me polygamy was one of the most controversial practices, against which I spoke, arguing that polygamy without polyandry is a clear inequality. But the young girls pounced on me, hot in protecting their right to be the second (it would be nice beloved) wife. Many interlocutors, including a friend who at the time was the second wife and had male child has led such an argument: “In Russia, men having mistresses, live with them for years, and then can quit without consequences. But Sharia law protects a second wife in the divorce”.

And yet, although many girls say they do not mind being second wives, the plight of first wives no one is jealous. While I was writing this article, my close friend was faced with the fact that after two years of marriage and child birth husband put it before the fact that had taken a second wife a very young country girl. To leave her husband or not is a question that my friend will have to answer to myself in the near future. Our study showed that besides family violence, the emergence of yet another wife is in the Caucasus the most important reason for divorce. In most cases, the first wife breaks the relationship, not wanting to put up with a new family, and returned with the children to her parents ‘ house. In Chechnya, the story becomes even more dramatic: there is a tradition to leave the children in her husband’s family, and if dissatisfied with the sudden appearance of the new wife, the woman leaves, she leaves alone.

Today the North Caucasian relationship motlier than a patchwork quilt: traditional practices and rituals peacefully coexist with quite European, romanticism with pragmatism, polygamy with monogamy. Family relations are governed not only (and sometimes not so much) tradition, but also new ideas about love, respect and justice. Increasingly, there are cases when the man, despite the rules prescribed by tradition, stands on the side of the woman, stands up for her, protects from attacks on the part of relatives. And the young men all the more eager to get married “for real”, on his girlfriend, and not because it’s time. As I said 40-year-old Fatima from Dagestan, “people in the Caucasus have long been unable to live as I want!” “It did not go out”, she added.