Husband Wife Relationship

West Indian couples who migrate find that their roles as husbands and wives are redefined so that husbands have more domestic responsibilities and wives gain increased independence (Foner, 1986). In the West Indies, the three types of marital unions (visiting, common-law, and legal marriage) result in complex husband-wife relationships. Couples involved in visiting unions engage in sexual activity but do not live together and may only sleep and eat together occasionally. The practice of serial migration (whereby family members migrate at different times) often results in the separation of husbands and wives for years at a time. Serial migration might also have the effect of highlighting even further the West Indian wife's role as family provider. In some cases in which wives migrate before husbands, wives provide economically for husbands and children who are left behind.

While the stigma that Christianity attaches to divorce might influence West Indians against legally dissolving their marriages, American attitudes toward divorce combined with the freedom one gains if one migrates without one's spouse might contribute to more lax approaches to divorce. In the Caribbean, it is not uncommon for children to be sent to live with relatives such as grandmothers or aunts. This practice, called "child shifting" occurs in situations of father and/or mother absence (due to migration, divorce, death, or other reasons) (Evans & Davies, 1997, p. 7). However, West Indian couples who migrate to the United States together, have children, and then divorced may find that they have to resort to more American solutions such as joint, partial, or exclusive child custody by one parent, since they may lack the extended kinship networks available to them back home.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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