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Loving across border control: Couple relationships in the 21st Century Dr Reenee Singh & Dr Martina Klett-Davies Faculty of Social Sciences The Open University,

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Presentation on theme: "Loving across border control: Couple relationships in the 21st Century Dr Reenee Singh & Dr Martina Klett-Davies Faculty of Social Sciences The Open University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Loving across border control: Couple relationships in the 21st Century Dr Reenee Singh & Dr Martina Klett-Davies Faculty of Social Sciences The Open University, UK AFT Annual Conference, London,

2 Plan for the workshop Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21 st Century – Methods and findings from quantitative study Overview of literature Qualitative sample and Clinical Vignettes Research Questions Self Reflexivity IPA Findings Clinical Implications

3 Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century How do couples experience and understand the qualities (connectors) of their long-term relationships?

4 Psycho-social mixed methods study The sample includes: 50 couples (aged between 18 and 60) heterosexual and same-sex couples equal numbers of men and women couples with and without children Ethnic minority Qualitative research

5 Research methods

6 diaries individual interviews couple (collage) interviews

7 Research methods online survey questionnaire

8 Survey/5 Measures/Likert scale

9 Religion and relationship measures

10 Sexual orientation, parenting status and relationship maintenance

11 Parenting status and relationship measures

12 My partner wants to have sex more than I do: relationship duration and sexual orientation

13 Stressors and relationship measures 31% of participants have started an educational course 23% experienced job loss or redundancy and/or starting work 32% moved house 25% experienced bereavement In contrast to previous research findings (Walker et al., 2010) there appears to be significant positive relationships between the number of events in the past two years and relationship satisfaction.Walker et al., 2010

14 Help and advice seeking

15 Plan for the workshop again Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21 st Century – Methods and findings from quantitative study X Overview of literature Qualitative sample and Clinical Vignettes Research Questions Self Reflexivity IPA Findings Clinical Implications

16 Overview of the literature Things are harder across the divide and it would be foolish to deny that. Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Falicov (1995, 2007) cross-cultural marriages and migration Focus on pathology and difficulties in relation to religion, food, language, understanding self and families (eg. Bacigalupe, 2003) Melendez and McDowells focus on immigrants or transnationals. Killian (2001) discourse of homogamy, hypersensitivity and no race talk. Karis and Killian (2009) – Power and developmental frameworks Singh and Dutta (2010) Intercultural Couples – U.K.

17 Sample The overall sample of 50 couples entailed 15 couples who were either Asian or Black African or Black Afro Caribbean Of MKDs sample there were seven couples were at least one partner was either Asian (2) or Black African or Afro-Caribbean (5) Of those RS sample for qualitative research seven couples where one or both identified as Asian RS sample - Could have refined the category to South Asian Of the seven couples, one was an older Asian couple but all the rest were in intercultural relationships Amongst the twelve participants in intercultural relationships, four identified as mixed race, one was Taiwanese, two Indian and the remaining 5 were White English Six of the couples were heterosexual and one was lesbian In this disparate couple, the theme of migration, in this generation, cut across two of the couples whom I have chosen for this workshop.

18 Research Questions What are the experiences of couples where one, or both are migrants to the U.K? What are the resiliencies or strengths in such relationships?

19 10 Data sets 4 Diaries of Participants 1, 2, 3 and 4 4 Transcripts of four Individual interviews 2 Transcipts of two couple interviews

20 Analysis IPA is a qualitative research approach committed to the examination of how people make sense of their major life experiences. (Smith, Flowers and Larkin, 2012) Phenomenological and interpretative Detailed and idiographic In depth look at a small, homogenous sample

21 Findings Meta Themes Development Resiliencies

22 Developmental Stages

23 Resiliencies

24 1: Becoming a Couple Unintentional Migration Participant 4 : And I never really anticipated that I would be living in the UK as a wife. Participant 1: She didnt really come to Britain with any intention of staying here, she just came to her Masters degree.

25 1: Becoming a Couple Escape from patriarchy Participant 2: I think its just my dad is very, um, controlling and very, umm dismisive… my dad is really um from a patriarchial background Participant 4: …Because they had visions of me never getting married, and every time they tried to arrange a marriage or somebody suggested it I would just say, Oh I dont want to get married because it was easier to say that than to say I dont want to get married like this…

26 1: Becoming a Couple Mismatch of Cultural Expectations Participant 4 : ….I would have liked him to take my cousin to the train station but he was reluctant – said it would take an hour. I was a bit annoyed but decided not to push it- she said she didnt mind taking a cab.

27 1: Becoming a Couple Participant 1: It was really difficult to negotiate because I didnt want to be that kind of, as oh, I was trying to live up to some sort of breadwinner patriarch… so I wanted to, you know, I felt it was only fair that you contribute something, but then I was also wrestling with that guilt… Participant 2: Because before, when we started going out, I only had a one year visa and, for some time, it seemed the only option for me to stay in England was to get married. And there was no way you would marry me at that point. So that I was really worried, an I think I was, kind of, expecting you to do more for me, but it was really early days, so it was too much to ask.

28 1: Becoming a Couple Negotiating Intercultural Differences Participant 1: Well, weve clearly had to develop our awareness of each others cultural differences, because theres so much that you dont really know how its going to impact on each other. Like you know, compared to Taiwan, English society, you know, women…a lot of women make jokes about sex and talk about it, its there much more prominent and I dont know. When I was younger I always used to have quite a kind of, cheeky sense of humour, like a bit rude and a bit, like always double entrendres and things. And um, I think I just took that for granted, so I assumed…it took me a while to realise how wasnt because you were prudish, and it wasnt because you were, kind of, stuck up or anything. It was just, kind of the cultural standards are different.

29 1: Becoming a Couple Experiences of Racism Participant 3: Um, I suppose Participant 4 has a strong sense of um her Indian identity, the legacy of UK domination over India pre-independence, um and I think theres a lack of sensitivity to that often within my family or or a sort of …a difficulty in acknowledging it. Participant 2: I know, just so many, well…we dont have to brand them but theyre like chavvy looking teenagers and I got robbed, and I got shouted abuse…

30 1: Becoming a Couple Experiences of Racism Participant 1: Last summer we went to the ---- festival and as we were leaving some drunk guy came up and he, he looked at Anne and he said to me, Oh shes Chinese. And I said, Shes not Chinese and he, he looked at me and said, I think he thought he was being funny but he said, Did you buy her? And I said, Youre drunk and youre ignorant. F--- off. And he stumbled off, but, um, yeah, I dont know, I think theres that, particularly in English men with Asian partners, theres that stereotype of, kind, of you know, Thai mail order brides and things like this, that people assume theres going to be a big disparity….

31 Resiliencies Recognition of sacrifice Participant 2: Yeah, so then, because I usually got frustrated with visa applications, the fact that I had to apply and then take time off and book the train and everything, you know, the cost added up, so then you decided to come with me and made it a pleasant day, instead of just getting the visa sorted, we booked the high tea in the afternoon…. Participant 3: Its much tougher for Participant 4 because shes in the UK and I think, um, because shes here permanently. Her relationship with, with the culture if you like, is much tougher, and difficult to sort of feel integrated in because youre because youre living here permanently…

32 Resiliencies Interplay of Cultural Differences Participant 3: Yeah we do, we do Diwali and Christmas Participant 4: Yeah. We dont – probably do as much for Diwali because we dont get time off in the same way so its a bit harder to do something on the day. But we do try to do something. We used to try and go out for a meal or something on Diwali, or call friends over. Participant 2: Yeah, and I think youre usually very quick to point it out. Like hes very patriotic and aware to point out that Im from Taiwan, not China, yeah…

33 Resiliencies Parental Approval Participant 4: And I think they always wanted me to get married and theyve been trying to arrange marriages of me, then they realised that it wasnt working, that I wouldnt go ahead with it. So, um, so they were very pleased when I got married, when we got married. Participant 2 Sometimes I think they (her parents) like Henry better than they do me and the fact that hes got a Ph.d, hes teaching at the University is very respected in Taiwan…

34 Resiliencies Similarity in class, political ideologies, values Participant 2: I think we have similar values um, were more on the Left really and um, interested in helping people in a more vulnerable position. Participant 3: Because although we come from different cultural contexts our class backgrounds arent dissimilar so, um, I think thats that makes it quite a lot easier in certain respects.

35 2: Marriage: Crossing the Borders The Home Office Affects Relationships Participant 4: …. I mean the UK border agency I think that did initially put a bit of stress in our-on our marriage because, uh, I had- it took me over a year to get indefinite leave to remain. Um and I couldnt go to India because they had my passport for over a year. Um so I – I mean I think they again, and I know from my own work that they are making it much more difficult for couples where one couple is – one of the partners isnt from an EU country; theyve raised the income threshold and theyve increased the time, or theyre planning to increase the time, and I just think that would just put a lot of stress on relationships which isnt, you know – in a sense it isnt necessarily for the government to decide who you should marry, and help and encourage certain kinds of marriages and not others. Um, so I think that that, again, is something that should possibly be changed…..

36 2: Marriage: Crossing the Borders Being married equates being entitled to protection Participant 2: I think as a migrant you always feel like youre in a vulnerable position and people have been telling me at work that um, youre entitled to a different set of rights if youre married than if youre not married. And being married, it just, you know, offers me protection. Not acceptable to have children outside wedlock It was only this year that I came to realise if we dont get married I will have less protection, and for a long time, its just the fact that its not really possible to have kind if we dont get married. Its not acceptable for my parents …

37 Resiliencies Being part of a mixed race community Participant 2: Yeah like in my office, for example, um, one, two, three, um and yeah, they all have a foreign husband or boyfriend and one of my good friends, shes English but her husband is um, from Indonesia and Ive got another friend who is Japanese and her husbands English and one from Hong Kong, her husbands English…yeah and I think theres this kind of unspoken thing among all these mixed race couples, is you, you understand how difficult for the other…

38 Resiliencies Growing and changing together Participant 1: Participant 2s often said that Taiwanese culture compared to British culture isnt that sexualised. I mean, I thnk when she first came to Britain she was shocked how, you know, not even your closest friends, but just mates from your courses go to the pub and youd be drinking and people would be joking about sex and things to do with their sex life…So I guess Ive kind of learned that its easier to keep it behind closed doors a bit more, um, yeah…

39 3: Parenting Re-negotiating relationships with parents and in-laws: Participant 3: And theyre very religious Catholics, and when the children were born they wanted to have them christened…what we wanted was like a sort of naming day ceremony which was secular, but you know, maybe, just have…we wanted something where, you know, well, we call it the Namkaran and you know, you know just have the mother was there at the time and she just wanted to do a (inaudible) they sort of assumed that that was all Hindu, whereas actually it wasnt… Participant 4: I think having childrens been quite tough as well. Um.. Particularly because Asmi s somewhat separated from her family in India. And theyve been good in coming here…a few times, but its not quite the same as having them close by.

40 3: Parenting Differences in Parenting Styles Participant 3: Um, last Christmas I just decided that I wouldnt go to their house again because also it was, its not so much me, I think but I dont think they are all that giving with the children. My father-in-laws constantly tutting at them, and… I suppose Im biased but I dont think theyre sort of spoiled or naughty, I think theyre sort of normal toddlers… I dont really want them to go somewhere where people are just, kind of…start tutting at them because theyre doing things which anybody should, all normal toddlers do.

41 Resiliencies Recognising the importance of having bilingual children Participant 4: I mean my mother-in-law ticks me off for speaking to the children in …. (own language) she doesnt like me doing that and…Participant 3 just told her off once because he just thought that was unacceptable.

42 Resiliencies Love Participant 4: At the end of the day, we do love each other a lot. I think thats what keeps it going.. Participant 3: Ah well without meaning to sound sort of…smultsy about it, I mean I think we sort of do, deep down, love each um and I think when things have been very tough for us, weve, weve always recognised that we are there for each other… Ive been in other relationships and they dont compare with …the depth of, the kind of feeling I have for her or the kind of um, sense of loyalty and…safety I suppose of being with her (Participant 4).

43 Resiliencies Representations of Mixed Race Families in the Media Participant 4: Yeah, because its yeah. In fact you see so little of it and you see so little reflection on what it might mean and what it might mean to bring up children in um, in a mixed race relation…you know, and considering that Im sure its not a small percentage of the population and in fact theres talk about it actually increasing dramatically as it would; so yeah youd hardly ever see it portrayed in films that much either…. Participant 1: So I do hope when our, you know, if we have kids and theyre growing up, that they will see, um…when we were watching the Olympics opening ceremony the other night, the the scene with the family that was a mixed, mixed er race family…

44 Resiliencies Financial security Participant 3 : Were not worried about the finances its more a sense that um…because weve both got pretty good jobs and theyre pretty well paid… Participant 2:..were really lucky because we both have jobs and were still together and we very settled as a couple.

45 Resiliencies Rituals Participant 2: We like to do nice things together and celebrate, um, occasions, you know, birthday, Christmas, or you know, treat each other, if you know, I pass my test or hes graduated…

46 Resiliencies Playing with cultural differences Participant 1: I think humour helps sometimes. We, weve joked over the years, like when I first went to Taiwan to meet your family I actually was quite nervous about it, it was a big step. But we, in um, Waynes World, theres a scene where he met the, the girlfriends Dad from Hong Kong and theres like a kung fu fight. But it is, its very very silly, but we were just, I was just joking about that scene, like your Dads going to want me to fight him to prove my worth or something. I dont know, I think, I think that it helps…

47 Conclusions Are couples where one is a migrant very different to those where both belong to the same country? Participant 4: I dont think its an issue between us, in fact I think most of the time we dont even think of it. And in a sense all couples are different from each other, arent they, even if you are the same colour there will be some other difference within white – or even if youre from the same social….

48 Conclusions Does negotiating with intercultural differences and sacrifices on both parts build up resistance? Does this translate into a stronger and healthier relationship, in keeping with the quantitative findings of the study?

49 Techniques Cultural Genograms (Hardy and Lazloffy, 1995) Internalized Other interviewing (Tomm, 1997) Separate cultural spaces (Falicov, 1995) Particularizing the universal (Killian, 2001) Contextualising and Universalizing the Particular Encouraging Couples to Reauthor a Family Identity Self as a Tool Positioning and polarities Redressing the power imbalance

50 References Alibhai-Brown, Y. (2001) Mixed Feelings: The Complex Lives of Mixed-Race Britons Bacigalupe, G. (2003) Intercultural therapy with Latino immigrants and white partners: crossing borders. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy. Volume 2/3: pp Karis, T.A. and Killian, K.D. (2009) Intercultural Couples. Exploring Diversity in Intimate Relationships. London: Routledge. Kilian, K.D. (2001) Reconstituting racial histories and identities: the narratives of interracial couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 27 (1): Falicov, C.J. (1995) Cross-cultural marriages. In N.S. Jacobson and A.S. Gurman (Eds.) Clinical Handbook of Couples Therapy. New York: Guilford. Falicov, C.J. (2007) Working with transnational immigrants: expanding meanings of family, community and culture. Family Process 46: Melendez, T. and McDowell, T. (2013) Race, class, gender and migration: family therapy with a Peruvian couple. Journal of Systemic Therapies 27(1): Singh, R. and Dutta, S. (2010) Intercultural Couples. In R Singh and S. Dutta (2010) Race and Culture. Tools, Techniques and Trainings. A Handbook for Professionals. Smith, J.A., Flowers, P and Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Theory, Method an Research. London: Sage.

51 Enduring Love? Keep in touch with the project Website Dr Martina Klett-Davies martina.klett- Dr Reenee Singh ????

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