To outsiders, Vardan marriages appear transactional, a simple arrangement built on business rather than romance. The truth is much more complex.
Shane blinked at her. <Offers? I thought we already negotiated passage.> Lai’na’s laugh echoed on both sides of the Telepathy spell. <Not that kind of offer. We have several women looking to have another child.> She winked. <I wasn’t one of them, but I’ll make an exception in your case, if you want.> Shane blinked faster. <I’m married.> Her brows furrowed. <So am I. What’s that got to do with anything?>
Vardan RelationshipsTo understand the concept of marriage among the Kin, one must first understand how they view relationships in general. Life within the Void is hazardous, and often difficult, relying upon teamwork and a communal sense of obligation toward the good of the Clan. Clan society is therefore heavily weighted toward community, to the ideas of "us" and "we" rather than "I" and "me". Not to say that the individual is viewed as unimportant - the Clan is at its best when all members are at their best - but priorities dictate that the fulfillment of personal needs and development prioritize what will best benefit the Clan in the long run, particularly when coupled with the limited resources available to a nomadic people with nothing but their ships to call their own. Even childcare is a group effort, with available kin stepping in to help when the child's parents are unavailable due to their duties to the Clan, or their requirements to fulfill personal needs and desires to ensure peak effectiveness once their skills are required again.
Personal RelationshipsA Vardan's personal needs are therefore relegated to their personal, more intimate relationships. While sexual intimacy is included, the pleasures of the flesh are far from the most important. Intellectual and emotional intimacy are even more critical to the Kin, and highly valued, as a necessity for personal well-being. This is where "I" and "me" and the singular "you" become common place, as individuals acknowledge their personal needs and desires, and recognize the individuality of others outside of their benefit to the collective. These conversations are deeply personal, and are treated as such by all members of the Clan considered old enough to know better. Privacy on board a cramped ship is difficult to guarantee, even with Anemancy, but to the Kin all conversations using personal pronouns - particularly those on board their ships - are to be treated in confidence. In cases where a personal conversation is overheard by another, it is considered a grave insult to even acknowledge having heard, much less to reference it later to anyone - unless the topic under discussion could prove harm to the well-being of the Clan as a whole.
Vardan MarriagesMarriage, then, serves mainly as a foundation of support and personal fulfillment for all involved. It is a working partnership, often between those who have discovered they work well together in their typical duties with their Clan-Kin, but primarily built around a mutual support and appreciation of personal-identity.
ChildrearingDue to the value of genetic diversity among the Kin, Vardan marriages are open, with reproduction completely separated from the marriage itself - although childrearing is not. Children belong to the marriage unit of the gestational parent and their Clan, with no parental rights offered to the non-birthing genetic donor, if they are outside this unit. Many children, in fact, are the product of time spent with citizens of the many planets with which the Vardan trade, as this has proven the most effective means of ensuring genetic diversity.
StructureThe Vardan's general disinterest in definitions of gender often used by other cultures - likely a product of their emphasis on the collective rather than the individual - has meant Vardan marriages are as varied in their make-up as the individual needs of the Kin involved. While some involve only two individuals, others contain three or even more adults, and while rare it is not unheard of for the members of two separate marriages to merge their relationships into a single family unit. While the final composition and structure within the marriage is unique and personal to the participants, due to the Vardan's emphasis on genetic diversity any members capable and interested in becoming gestational parents tend to take a central place, due to the nature of their role. This is not to say marriages must possess the capabability or interest to produce offspring to be considered valid. Adoption is encouraged, for those who wish, while members of childless marriages are valued for the other contributions they bring to the Clan and each other.
ChildbearingA child of one gestational parent (often called "Genny" or "Jessy" by their children) is a child of the entire family unit, with all non-birthing parents (frequently addressed with variations on "Nonny") supporting not only parenting, but also the health and needs of the gestational parent, including covering their obligations to the Clan when they themselves are unable. While care of the children falls to the Clan as a whole, with other marriage units and even single Kin stepping in as needed, only those adults within the child's marriage unit of origin are considered their parents.
Marriage ProcessMarriages must be requested from the Caravan Lead, with full consent of all involved, including everyone within any involved existing marriages. If an outsider chooses to marry into the Vardan, they are required to bring a representative from their family unit of origin, or an intimate personal friend - to vouch for them and their intents to follow the Vardan rules and traditions. In cases where multiple caravans or Clans are involved, all affected Caravan Leads must give their consent. In practice this is typically a straightforward affair, although inter-caravan relationships open up additional conversations about which Clan will claim the resultant marriage. Those with the option to choose becoming a gestational parent are often expected to remain with their Clan of origin, with any additional marriage partners leaving their former Clan, but in practice this rule of thumb is oversimplified and often not applicable, particularly in cases with existing family units, children, or multiple potential gestational parents. The marriage ceremony itself is considered an intimate affair, with celebration left to the participants of the marriage itself. Since outsiders are rarely invited, each is unique to the marriage unit, often drawing upon personal interests and stories of their parents' own marriages for inspiration when crafting a celebration of their own.
Married LifeMarriage units share a single cabin amongst themselves and their children, as assigned by the Caravan Lead or their delegate. As the needs of the marriage change, so too can their quarters. These quarters are considered private, and those boundaries respected. Nobody outside the family unit is permitted to set foot within, unless the matter is deemed a matter of Clan safety. Exceptions are, of course, made for young children, who often visit the cabins of their friends' units, especially when their own parents are occupied with Clan or personal matters.
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Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
I really love the Vardan and their social structures. I'm looking forward to reading more about them! :)
M H Biscup
I'm excited to write more about them!
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
It's very interesting to see how you use the language theories to show the characteristics of the culture :D The Vardan ways of life is intriguing. Is there ever a pressure for people to actually have children since they have to think about the good of the community? Also, did Shane end up accepting the offer? :p
M H Biscup
Resources on the ships are also limited, so unless a Clan is trying to grow larger, or they aren't having enough children to maintain their size in the future, I like to think that most Clans wouldn't put too much pressure on someone. Pregnancy is a big commitment, and not everyone is ready or even interested in undertaking it. As long as there's others interested in filling that gap it's fine. Plus the universe is at war. The Vardan have been known to adopt war orphans, provided they have the blessings of the local planetary government to do so. And no, Shane did not accept. He is very much ace, and spends the rest of the chapter feeling and acting very awkward any time she even looks his direction.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
I really like this. The culture seems very unique and I love the acceptance of polyamory.
M H Biscup
Thank you so much! I love the Vardan. <3 I can't wait for an excuse to write more about them.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.