Husband Wife Leisure Activities

In many cultures, a husband and wife who are not engaged in work activities usually spend their discretionary time in each other's company. This is the case in 47% of a sample of 104 societies (Broude & Greene, 1983). Sometimes, a couple will spend their leisure time together but in the context of a larger group. This occurs in 21% of those societies for which information is available (Broude & Greene, 1983). Thus, for instance, when not engaged in subsistence activities, Southern African !Kung spouses remain together, but are surrounded by members of their band. !Kung life is communal, with a local group living in a clearing of perhaps 20 feet in diameter. Each family has its own hut, but these are used mainly for sleeping and storage of property. Therefore everyone lives out in the open. A family may sit near its own fire in front of its own hut, but everyone faces centrally and within seeing and hearing distance of everyone else (Marshall, 1959). Thus married couples are together, but in a crowd.

In another 21% of the sample of 104 cultures, couples also spend their leisure time together, but often alone, although they also participate in group activities (Broude & Greene, 1983). In Kenya, a Kikuyu husband and wife like to sit and talk around the fire at home while dinner is cooking. A couple will also visit neighbors or attend dances and ceremonies, and a wife will help her husband entertain guests in his hut (Cagnolo, 1933).

In 5% of the same sample of cultures, husbands and wives almost always spend their discretionary time together and alone or only with family members (Broude & Greene, 1983). Among the Nambicuara of Brazil, for example, individual families gather around the fire singing, dancing, and talking until it is time to go to sleep (Levi-Strauss, 1948).

Husbands and wives spend at least a large proportion of their leisure time separately in 53% of 107 cultures (Broude & Greene, 1983). In such societies, men and women tend to congregate instead with members of their own sex. This can mean that a husband and wife virtually never see one another during their leisure time. The Mbundu of Angola have a men's house, which serves as a school, dining room, recreation facility, and hotel. It is here that men and boys spend much of leisure time. Women congregate in the kitchen. There are dances on the last few days of each month, but even at these events men and women, including spouses, separated from each other, with males on one side of floor and females on the other (Childs, 1949).

Where husbands and wives spend their leisure time together, they also tend to eat together. Husbands are also likely to attend the births of their children and men's houses are unlikely to be present (Broude, 1983).

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