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Because marriage represents the union of two families, the choice of spouse is usually arranged by the families, although individuals have some say in the decision. Divorce is not common.

The Amharic family is strongly patriarchal, a pattern typical throughout Ethiopia. Sons usually bring their brides to live with or near their fatherís family, and three or more generations in the male line frequently live under one roof. Age is highly respected in Ethiopia, and the elderly are cared for by their children. Womenís duties and privileges are clearly defined both within the home and elsewhere, and most women lead sheltered lives. Families tend to be very private.

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