Date of Award

12-2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick Munley

Abstract

The literature on Asian Indian women has not adequately addressed the experiences that first generation Asian Indian women face while going through the process of making the decision to marry cross-culturally. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify, describe, and understand the struggles, challenges, and conflict experienced by Asian Indian women who decide to marry cross-culturally and to understand the consequences of the decision on the lives of these women and their interpersonal relationships.

Initial and follow-up phone interviews were conducted with eight Asian Indian women who had experienced cultural and familial challenges regarding their decision to marry cross-culturally. Interview questions were designed to address the women's personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences in making the decision to marry cross-culturally and the consequences of their decision on their lives and their relationships. A qualitative method of inquiry was used to understand the experiences of first generation Asian Indian women in cross-cultural marriages.

Several themes emerged related to influences the women experienced as contributing to their marrying cross-culturally. These themes included: an emphasis on education, the level of gender role expectations in their families, family member's marriage expectations, the women's own marriage expectations, the women's experiences dating both Indian and non-Indian men, the extent to which the women negotiated and resisted traditional career and marriage boundaries, the women's and family members concerns regarding divorce, and reactions from friends and loved ones to their cross-cultural marriage. Themes also emerged that related to the continued challenges the women faced as a consequence of their cross-cultural marriage. These themes included: the geographical dislocation the women experience, concerns regarding language, reactions they face from the greater South Asian community, and concerns surrounding raising a child in a cross-cultural marriage.

The women also shared what they considered to be the most important aspect of their experience, helpful supports experienced, and advice they wanted to give to other Asian Indian women deciding to marry cross-culturally. Findings are discussed in terms of understanding first-generation Asian Indian women in cross-cultural marriages, implications for counseling practice, and implications for future research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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