Husband Wife Relationship

Every husband-wife relationship is based on the partners' common goal in life: to form a viable household, procreate children, and raise them in a manner that turns boys and girls into culturally accepted or sufficiently good men and women. This is also what people say give them the ultimate meaning in life.

The complementary roles and joint responsibility of young couples are stressed in myths that are narrated by elders during the wedding ceremonies (Broch, 1996). Cultural ideals about interpersonal respect, cooperation, household harmony, equality, and lifelong solidarity may not always be easy to fulfill in everyday life. Despite these principles, every husband-wife relationship at Timpaus develops its own character.

Husbands and wives live together, ideally in their own house, or temporarily as an extension of the wife's maternal household. Timpaus Banggai say it is best for married people to live by themselves and not too close to their parents. Husband and wife are not supposed to signal their love for each other in public, but are allowed to share such feelings in private. Although physical contact between spouses in public is frowned upon, mutual affection can often be observed by alertness to the partner's wishes and needs, appreciative words of respect, with the speech pitch suggesting tenderness, and mutually understood humor. In public they should, and often do, appear as good friends, help each other with various tasks, and support each other in conversations with other villagers.

In many homes wife, husband, and children eat their meals together, but in the most traditionally oriented households the man is served first and the wife and children start eating after the father/husband has received his portion. When there are visitors, and especially if they not are close relatives, men are served separately from women and children.

At night husbands tend to leave the house after supper has been served and tea has been drunk. If the couple have young children, the wife often stays home to look after them while the husband goes for a walk to visit friends or other men. It is also common for a messenger to ask a husband to come home because his wife wishes to go visiting somewhere alone. At times wife and husband go for a stroll or visit other villagers together.

However, the Timpaus Banggai live in the real world. Disputes between husbands and wives arise— some disagreements are long lived, and others are of short or temporary duration. It is not culturally acceptable to express hostile or aggressive feelings and so it is difficult to know what the exact relationship between husbands and wives is like.

Timpaus Banggai women have a noticeable influence on their husbands, who mildly resist some control and fuss about things to be done about the house and in the household. When other men are present, many husbands express some level of symbolic or fictive control of their wives.

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