Egyptian dating and marriage customs

Either partner could institute divorce for fault (adultery, inability to conceive, or abuse) or no fault (incompatibility).

Divorce was, no doubt, a matter of disappointment but certainly not one of disgrace, and it was very common for divorced people to remarry.

Considering the lack of effective contraceptives and the Egyptian's traditional desire to have a large family, most women probably became pregnant shortly after marriage.

Although the institution of marriage was taken seriously, divorce was not uncommon.

Apparently once a couple started living together, they were acknowledged to be married. He [her husband] slept with me that night and found me pleasing.

As related in the story of Setne, "I was taken as a wife to the house of Naneferkaptah [that night, and pharaoh] sent me a present of silver and gold . He slept with me again and again and we loved each other" (Lichtheim 1980: 128).

"Uncle" and "brother" (or "sister" and "aunt") were also designated by the same word.

Egyptian women had greater freedom of choice and more equality under social and civil law than their contemporaries in Mesopotamia or even the women of the later Greek and Roman civilizations.

Her right to initiate divorce was one of the ways in which her full legal rights were manifested.

This sensuality is reflected by two New Kingdom love poems: "Your hand is in my hand, my body trembles with joy, my heart is exalted because we walk together," and "She is more beautiful than any other girl, she is like a star rising . Marriage was purely a social arrangement that regulated property.

Neither religious nor state doctrines entered into the marriage and, unlike other documents that related to economic matters (such as the so-called "marriage contracts"), marriages themselves were not registered.


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