Husband Wife Relationship

The husband-wife relationship is the most important relationship emotionally and economically. This is symbolized in ritual actions required even for the young. If an unmarried person engages in an act that a widowed person has to perform, such as facing downstream while bathing, he or she is cautioned not to do that as it will cause the person destined to be his or her future partner, his or her "balance," to die.

Husbands and wives closely depend on each other for the household economy and for support and affection. Sexual jealousy is very prevalent and is a major feature of the relations between men and women. Both sexes frequently display emotions of jealousy, and accusations of infidelity arising from ungrounded suspicions or even just from the fear of infidelity are common. Brides are known to exhibit these emotions even during the period when they are publicly rejecting their husbands and refusing the role of wife.

A husband and a wife are expected to "care for," "to be fond" of one another. They are supposed to take care of each other, particularly when one is ill or indisposed. A source of arguments between spouses can be whether one or the other has fulfilled this aspect of the spousal role satisfactorily. Fulfilling it is a sign of affection. If they do not argue, sleep together, have no arguments over raising children, like to be alone in gardens together, are excited when they see each other, and laugh and talk together a lot, they are said to have the same feelings for each other. As the married couple settle down into a productive marriage, both economically and in terms of children, and if the wife is close to her husband, uxorilo-cal residence of intervillage marriages may change, and the family may move to the village of the husband, or they may move back and forth every few years.

There appear to be few ambiguities or conflicts over definitions of roles. Tensions can arise in intervillage marriages when the husband wishes to spend more time visiting his relatives, and he may wish to move to his natal village. Another conflict between men and women is over the use of the family's domestic animals. Men want to use these to exchange for property to build up the assets of the family. Women may want to retain them for sacrifice if there is threat of illness in the family. Again, this conflict is not frequent and is only episodic. It does not constitute a major source of tension in defining male-female roles. Males may perform female tasks, except the ritual ones, and females may perform male tasks except the cutting of swiddens, hunting, and those involving the village moot or political activities.

While the vast majority of marriages are monogamous, a wealthy man may take a second or very occasionally a third wife. Attempts at this frequently results in the first wife divorcing her husband. Any such polygamous marriages require that a separate household be kept for each wife. Very poor men may also engage in marrying a second wife, but this is extremely rare.

Physical abuse of a wife is rare. If it occurs, or if a man wants to have intercourse when a wife does not want to and persists, the wife will return to her father's household or to the household of an uncle or brother. To retrieve his wife, the husband has to pay a fine of a jar or a piece of brassware to the wife's relative. If a wife or a husband becomes angry with his or her spouse and cuts up the other's clothing, or cuts in anger at a house post, this is a ritual delict as it implies that the angry person wants to frighten away the other's soul, causing sickness and death. This delict requires a fine and a sacrifice of a chicken to alleviate this threat. It is expected that women will want to refrain from intercourse during their menstrual period, if they are sick, or after giving birth. However, a husband will become angry if he is frequently refused by his wife, and this will be the cause of disputes and divorce. One informant stated that if a man's wife no longer wants intercourse, the man just gets up and leaves.

Divorce is relatively easy. Males and females have equal access to divorce. If there is no fault, the assets accumulated by the family are divided between husband and wife. If there is fault, the division of assets includes compensation for the injured spouse.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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