Marriage for a purpose other than love has always been highly unusual in Stenza history. Experiments with marriage as a means to create or maintain diplomatic ties have almost always ended in disaster, for a host of reasons: a lack of love or affection in the relationship, everyone on both sides having strong opinions about how the other clan does things, long-standing feuds, and so forth are common. The Stenza view of love focuses on the ability of the individuals said to be in it to solve problems together, rather than statements of feelings, arbitrarily defined life events in the relationship, or perceptions from outsiders (i.e. you can love someone and not like them if you work well with them). Therefore, a very early narrative about marriage developed that if the partners involved could weather an outbreak of war between their clans, then the union was considered blessed, or at least stable. However, as with the myths of Iradae and Lan'tha, this was considered a stroke of luck or excellent compatibility, rather than a norm or an ideal to strive toward or beat yourself up over. Divorce, marked by members of the couple agreeing to move back to their home clans for whatever reason, was and is common. In reality, marriages tended to occur when, at the very least, the two clans involved were in a state of peace, as this was considered an ideal environment to bring pups into the world. The true manifestation of this trend followed the establishment of the Unified Stenza Clans under Iradae the Lawgiver. Once everyone realized that they could carry out their lives without the threat of war, moving between clans became vastly easier (save for pups, who did as pups have done for millions of years and found their way into everywhere they possibly could regardless of what the adults were doing) and marriages spiked. This, along with Blood Sibling ties and the protection that peace afforded Hunting Season and Migration, fostered the development of a more cohesive species-wide identity, while still retaining clan customs. Many older fighting instincts were funneled into bar fights, Courtship Rituals, and other channels, and it is now common for couples to agree to a union after spending several years in a period of courtship. Often, if there is a male Stenza involved, he may engage in several fights to impress the same woman, each showier than the last (if there are two or more men involved, this role may alternate each year, or the better sparrer flexes). Any children the couple have together belong to the clan to which the couple relocates (or the new, reconstituted clan if such applies, although this is very rare).
Stenza do not have weddings the way that Earthlings think of them, and it is instead fairly common for a couple to, following an extended period of courtship, decide to move in together. Who lives with which clan (the residence of the couple) is determined by extensive negotiations between the elders of each clan, as well as the couple in question. The negotiations commonly last roughly two or three hours, but particularly complex situations involving, say, the Clan of the Lost may last longer. The conclusion of the negotiations is widely considered as good an excuse as any to throw a party. A common feature at such parties involves litter mates and blood siblings regaling the guests with tales of the couple, some exalting and some embarrassing. Also common is a feast, and members of Greater Pass clans such as Jal'sa will often set out additional food in case of visits by curious Snow Pups. A smattering of individuals across Stenza society are fairly superstitious and believe that the most opportune time to hold such an occasion is during summer, the period of daylight between First Sunrise and Last Sunset. This is most likely born out of the myths surrounding Iradae and Lan'tha and the belief that their ability to observe and possibly join in on the festivities blesses the union. In some rare cases involving the Clan of the Lost, a marriage and subsequent party leads seamlessly into Rebuilding Rites for one of the clans involved. In these cases the couple and certain other attached individuals relocate to the settlement being rebuilt, and the clan is considered "reformed", or in a fragile but "on its way" state.