What Can You Say About the Nature of Aristocratic ‘Marriage’ and ‘Family’ in the Mid-Heian Period?

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Aristocratic marriages in mid-Heian period in “Gossamer Years” depict visiting marriages without formal ceremonies. Politic plays a significant role and men can have multiple wives and concubines. While the nature of aristocratic marriage and family in this period appears peculiar to us; the practices in marriage and family in mid-Heian period are actually more reasonable than it might sounded at first if we approached with the widespread point of view back then. Instead of moving in together after marriage, the husband and wife still live separately. The wife remains in her parent’s residence and the husband visits the wife during his spare time. Also, the wife is responsible for raising children. The demonstration of this practice is shown throughout the book. Although this type of marriage practice might be seen as unusual from today’s scope where the equality between men and women is a norm, this is not the case if we approach it from an older point of view where male dominates the society and have the right to make all the decision in the household. In marriage, the three people who have exclusive rights to decide things in marriage are the fathers of both sides and the husband himself. If the question about where the lady should live is raised assuming there is no visiting marriage practice, the father would definitely want his daughter to stays with him in his residence. Husbands of the first category, that have a single love and are thinking about having only one lover in his life, will probably want the lady to reside with him. On the other hand, husbands of the second category that have multiple lovers will probably think otherwise since staying together in the same house with the lady will most likely bring trouble for him later. Men of mid-Heian probably fall to the second category judging from the situations in “Gossamer Years” where the prince has multiple relationships and the author is only the second wife (Tokihime is the first wife judging from...
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