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The intermarriage experiences of four Chinese Canadian women Lai, Sylvia H. G.

Abstract

This study examined the marriage experiences of four Chinese Canadian women who are married to Caucasian husbands in Canada. Employing a phenomenological qualitative approach, in - depth interviews were conducted with these women in the ethnically diverse city of Vancouver, exploring their lived experiences in these relationships. The findings in this study reflect upon this and tries to bring some understanding to this rather complex phenomenon. The first finding is the non - accidental nature in who we choose to bring into our world. This important element was highlighted in the findings as it speaks to the reasons why we seek certain people to be in our life, including our spouses. The women in this study all spoke about early influences and experiences which reflected a sense of being an outsider in their own world at some point. These experiences have in one form or another shaped how these women approached relationships and in particular marriage. The second finding speaks to the effortlessness which these women present when moving between their Chinese and Canadian culture. The skills of negotiating and interpreting were highlighted by one of the women as a role that she has grown up with but now also finds useful in her marriage. This role appears almost invisible to most people because of the way these women incorporate it into their day to day living. The last major finding is the importance of seeking a balance between the two cultures in intermarriage. In doing so, it allowed the women in this study to find a safe place for them to freely express the two sided nature of their culture which up until then remained separated. In some cases it also provided the impetus to revisit their culture of origin to rework another understanding of the role of Chinese culture in their lives. The findings of this study provide a beginning understanding into the work which these four women negotiated in intermarriage to achieve a balance between the Canadian and Chinese cultures in which they live. The findings from this study bridge a gap in the understanding of the phenomenon of interracial relationships in Canada and contribute to a broader cross cultural practice in social work and family therapy.

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