Husband Wife Relationship

A good marriage was a partnership which, over time, involved great loyalty and affection. Couples who remained married for many years became so identified with one another that clan differences faded. In such a marriage, a spouse did not accept potlatch gifts from the other's clan, since they were like one person. For other marriages, the pull of clan loyalty could, and was expected to, outweigh the marital bond. Also the differences in age between the spouses were critical in the definition of the relationship. In first and last marriages, where there were often extreme age differences, that factor was an important part of the relationship.

Husbands and wives lived together in their section of his clan house and, in season, they traveled together to summer fishing camps. Men and women had specific tasks, but women were said to have hunted when their husbands were gone and men gathered berries and cooked when wives were away.

Marriage was not the most enduring relationship in Tlingit life. In normal situations individuals were widowed and remarried more than once over a lifetime. Further, divorce, although thought unfortunate, was available for both men and women, with children remaining with their mothers. As long as remarriage continued ties with the same families, no structural problems emerged. Even while marriages endured, outside factors could break up couples temporarily or permanently. As noted, in times of enmity between clans the women and children of the contesting clans left the houses of their husbands and took refuge in their own clan houses for the duration of the conflict.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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