Cuiva - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The young man who leaves his own family for the shelter of his new wife finds himself living with parents-in-law with whom he must remain very formal. Often enough, at first, his wife will also become his only friend within the shelter. The relationship between husband and wife is very intense because they spend most hours of the day together and are almost never separated: they sleep, travel, eat, visit, and even hunt, fish, or pick fruit together. This intensity is probably helped by Cuiva ideas on divorce—it is relatively easy for either spouse to cancel a marriage, especially if there are no children. The Cuiva also say that the intensity of the relationship ensures that a marriage will normally either succeed or fail within a very short time.

Domestic Unit. The people "who sleep under the same shelter" and the local group form a kind of extended family that becomes largely responsible for the socialization of children, the care of the aged, and the general welfare of all members. Many of the long hours of leisure are spent with members of one's shelter or local group, and these people are usually one's closest relatives and most intimate friends.

Socialization. Sexual distinction begins early: more or less from age 3, girls begin to learn from women, boys from men. By the time a man marries, he has become a competent hunter, but his wife is only reaching puberty and still has much to learn. This is the reason given for matrilocal residence at marriage. The Cuiva also say that learning is a lifelong process and that one should always remain intellectually curious: from the simplest botany to highly speculative astronomy, there is much to be learned and discovered.

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