Husband Wife Relationship

Wives and husbands have relationships that may be very close and loving, or may be distant and antagonistic. Because parents and other close relatives arrange most marriages, newlyweds may be virtual strangers, or they may be village acquaintances (Bennett, 1983; Cameron, 1998; Levine, 1988). Over time, many factors shape the relationship, including family support, personalities of the individuals, children, and economic security. The wife has less power than the husband in controlling relationship dynamics and outcomes. Her role includes obedience to her husband and her in-laws, she owns only property she received as dowry, her natal family may be far away, and she is generally less educated than her husband. She expresses subservience to her husband in numerous ways, including eating after him, walking behind him, carrying the heaviest load, and bowing and touching her head to his feet. She is expected to keep silent when the couple is around nonrelatives, and she never uses her husband's name to address him. It is rare in Nepal to see wife and husband showing affection in public, though most would claim that they are free to do so in private. Still, the high incidence of physical abuse against wives and its acceptance reflect the difficult conditions for women in Nepal and the lack of social and relational support; even today, there is no law against domestic violence. Support for abused women can be expected only from the natal home, and a woman whose marriage is unhappy or abusive will spend long periods there.

Married couples may gradually come to love each other and develop satisfying intimacy. The birth of children contributes to a family identity and satisfies strong social expectations that can strengthen the relationship. Couples do not generally share their problems and concerns with spouses, but with same-sex friends and trustworthy affines. Intimacy with one's mate is somewhat discouraged in extended families, as it is believed to weaken fraternal and lineage bonds; still, couples share life's experiences and daily problems with each other in private, and can be potential friends in times of need. Since divorce is rare, couples work and maintain the household together over the decades, and develop strong bonds that such close association engenders.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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