Husband Wife Relationship

Men are the heads of households, have authority over their families, and are responsible for the economic well-being of the family. Men seek to control their wives' sexuality and fertility. Women are generally subordinate to men, and wives are properly subordinate to husbands.

A sexual double standard operates by which sexual promiscuity is valorized for men, making them appear strong, potent, and attractive in the eyes of both men and women, but is never condoned for women. For women, sexual activity must be confined to the marital relationship. Of course in practice this rule is disobeyed, but never publicly flaunted.

Women value and are valued for their reproductive capacity. The ideal woman was primarily a mother of sons and secondarily a faithful wife and hard worker at home, in the fields, and in the performance of ritual offerings. Indeed, women are perceived to be responsible for fertility, and an unreproductive marital relationship is blamed on the woman. This is an Indonesian-wide perception, enshrined in the Marriage Law of 1974: an infertile marriage provides legitimate grounds for a man to acquire a second wife, but a woman may not seek a second husband.

Polygyny is frequently viewed by men as a status marker—signifying not just sexual virility but also wealth—but it is also considered a tricky arrangement to manage. Separate households must be established, and wives and children kept apart—it is well known that cowives are bitter enemies, and that it is all but impossible to satisfy the requirement that a polygynous man treat his wives and respective children equally. Polygyny is sufficiently common that the possibility that a husband will seek another wife is a very "tangible threat undermining the matrimonial security of the currently married [woman]" (Jennaway, 2002, p. 80). Marriage as a cowife is a very real possibility for the young unmarried woman, especially if she becomes pregnant.

In many ways the marital relationship is a working partnership. The aim is the material and social well-being of the family, and ideally both husband and wife are united in working for this.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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