Courtship and Marriage

'Enana regard marriage as a natural and important life goal on the way to establishing a household and so fulfilling the role of the mature householder. While celibate mihi "missionaries," "nuns," unmarried mahu, aging male taure'are'a, and unmarried vahine mako "shark women" (women available for intercourse with multiple partners) are tolerated, they are denigrated in gossip and sometimes openly mocked (see Kirkpatrick, 1983; Suggs, 1966). Church marriage is the ideal for most individuals; however, adolescents and young adults may experiment with cohabitation and reproduction long before even a civil marriage is considered.

Sexual attraction plays the largest role in the initial choice of partners. Subsequently, "maturity"—that is, the potential to support and nurture a family in gender-appropriate ways—becomes important in choosing long-term mates (usually after producing a couple of children together). Civil marriage may accompany this stage, while actual marriage in the church, a costly affair, may await years of work and the production of several more children.

Some marital choices are influenced by family pressures in ways reminiscent of traditional times when elite betrothals and marriages were arranged in order to forge intertribal alliances, sometimes while one or both partners were still children (Ferdon, 1993; Handy, 1923; Thomas, 1990). These days parents may play a role in arranging profitable matches (e.g., with "rich" hao'e "foreigners" or with land-rich 'Enana in other valleys); more frequently they play a role in sanctioning relationships that are deemed incestuous (see Kirkpatrick [1981, 1983] for marital preferences and proscriptions).

Elite betrothals and marriages were once celebrated through feasting and dancing, with provisions supplied by both the bride's and the groom's families. Additionally, both families engaged in gift exchanges and the chanting of geneologies. At present, church marriages are marked by feasting and dancing.

Traditionally, polyandry was institutionalized. Elite women had one or more pekio "secondary husbands" who contributed to the household as laborers while also performing as sexual partners. They "belonged" to both the wife and the primary husband, and their children by the wife were treated as the children of the primary husband. While less discussed in the literature, men too might have more than one wife, and sometimes households consisted of several men and women, all enjoying mutual sexual access (Ferdon, 1993; Handy, 1923; Suggs, 1966; Thomas, 1988a, 1990).

Vestiges of polygamy persist in the way households frequently accommodate one or more younger males who help with copra, fishing, or hunting, and may additionally engage in covert sexual relations with the woman of the house. Similarly, cases of men with more than one wife in more than one valley were still to be found in the 20th century (Suggs, 1966).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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