Husband Wife Relationship

Ceremonies on the third day of a wedding focus on teaching the couple to work together in unison and to share the products of their labor. They are no longer two separate individuals but rather one unit with a shared identity and a shared purpose. They are an odo', a couple, who have a cooperative relationship with shared goals. The relationship between husband and wife is a major venue of male-female relations, shaping the lives of both women and men. Ideally, a married couple should not argue. Life should be harmonious, with spouses helping each other, working together as best friends. A husband and wife must be companions collaborating for success. The traditional Btsisi' word for marriage, kuyn-hodong, is the compound of the words kuyn ("husband/man") and hodong ("wife/woman"). There are many metaphors symbolizing the joint cooperative relationship necessary between husband and wife.

While there is a conceptual scheme dividing men's and women's work into a complementary division of labor, flexibility characterizes the sexual division of labor. Few, if any, restrictions prohibit a person from performing tasks assigned to the opposite sex. Many of the activities Btsisi' perform require a partner. People prefer this partner to be their spouse. In this way resources remain within the household rather than being divided. Even if an activity can be performed individually, who would want to be alone? People want to do things with a friend, and their spouse is their best friend. If he/she is not, then why stay in the marriage? The lack of a rigid sexual division of labor and the need to have a partner reinforces interdependence and cooperation between husband and wife. A Btsisi' man said: "There is no difference in the work women and men do. We all do the same thing and we work together. This way it gets done faster." Working together means that women and men have mutual areas of discourse.

A good wife cares for her children and house, works with her husband in the fields and at sea, and she loves her husband and remains faithful to him. In turn, a good husband should not be lazy, he should be a good provider, and he should love his wife and remain faithful to her.

Polygyny is infrequently practiced. Women do not like their husbands to take a second wife and in most instances the man's first marriage will fail. Cowives do not get along and most often the wives will reside in different villages. Sororal polygyny is the only type of polygyny which is truly successful. Who can be angry with her sister? Polyandry is prohibited. If caught in such a relationship, the punishment is for the three people to be tied to a stake in the sea and drown with the rising tide.

Divorce is possible for both men and women. Reasons why women and men divorce do not differ nor do the fines for initiating a divorce. It is easier for men to initiate a divorce because they are more likely to have access to the funds needed to pay the fines, but this does not seem to inhibit women, who receive financial support from their families. If old enough, children decide with whom they want to reside. Usually they spend time with both parents, since village endogamy prevails. But fearing stepmothers, children prefer living with their mothers.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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