Husband Wife Relationship

The husband-wife relationship is ideally characterized by love, privately expressed affection, companionship, mutual dependence, and respect. It is the central relationship upon which households are built and subsistence depends. Husbands and wives and their children eat together, sleep together, work together, and make important household decisions together. Many household tasks are quite clearly divided into women's work and men's work, but cross-over occurs frequently, as needed. Men may cook, or weave, or wash clothes if their wives are ill; women may search for firewood or plow fields if necessary. Married couples rely on each other for friendship, successful subsistence, problem solving, physical care-taking, emotional support, and intimacy. Both husbands and wives count on considerable freedom and autonomy, in that either may leave a union if they wish. This may contribute to sexual jealousies, a common source of conflict and resentment between couples. Domestic violence is not uncommon, usually associated with alcohol consumption, and is perpetrated by both women and men against spouses, though it seems that serious physical harm is more often caused by men. Illness and death by sorcery perpetrated by a spouse is a perceived threat for many Tarahumara. Unsatisfactory marriages may be dissolved by mutual consent, or by the fact of either partner leaving a union for whatever reasons they may have, simply separating their personal lands and belongings, though in cases of physical threat the leave-taking may be difficult and community officials may be asked to intercede. Children may go back and forth between mother and father, or pick one parent to live with (if very young they stay with their mother); in the event of remarriage some children choose to live with grandparents if they do not get along with their stepparents.

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