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Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Kent Warren

First Committee Member

Adair Linn Nagata

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Kirkhart

Third Committee Member

Laura Bathurst

Abstract

This study explored the ways in which intercultural relationships are affected by cross-cultural transition through the lens of the female experience. Specifically, this research examined (1) in what ways women felt that cross-cultural transition impacted their relationship, especially with regards to cultural values and male-female role taking; and (2) what kinds of benefits women experienced in their relationships as a result of moving across cultures with their partner. A total of 15 non-Chilean women in intercultural relationships with Chilean men were interviewed; all women had lived with their partners in her home country and then moved together to Chile.

Results revealed that all 15 participants maintained at least some of their own core cultural values regardless of conflicting societal pressure after moving to Chile. In addition, 11 women reported adopting Chilean values of being more relaxed surrounding time and schedules as well as openly expressing affection, which directly benefited their families. Female participants who reported gender role shifts in their relationship either described it as circumstantial since they simultaneously became stay-at-home mothers, or as a direct result of moving to a culture that adhered to stricter notions of male-female role taking. Although about half of the women reported having to make career sacrifices, most felt their roles as females, wives, and mothers directly benefited from moving to Chile due to more affordable domestic help and living in a more child friendly culture.

Finally, although most women discussed some of the challenges of moving across cultures with their partner, 11 women felt their relationship had been strengthened as a result. They also described a number of skills for achieving relationship maintenance: practicing patience, good communication, and a willingness to continually negotiate with one another were the most important abilities for sustaining a highly mobile yet stable intercultural marriage.

Pages

151

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