Exploring intercultural relationships: A study of Russian immigrants married to native Israelis

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To explore the internal dynamics of intercultural marriage, we conducted in-depth interviews with 18 married couples, of whom one partner was born in Israel and the other immigrated from the former Soviet Union. The interviews focused on the contentious issues of everyday life: selfidentity, language use, cultural consumption, relations with the families/friends, division of household labor, and childrearing. The findings point to a clear tendency for immigrants to make most adjustments to the norms and expectations of the Israeli spouses and their social networks. For most immigrant spouses, the selective acculturation they had hoped for at the outset in fact morphed into relentless assimilation. The Israelization was expressed in the exclusive use of Hebrew in these homes; preference of Israeli spouse's families, friends, and pastimes, Israeli style in cooking and housekeeping, as well as Israeli-Hebrew socialization of the children. The drift towards the hegemonic culture experienced by the Russian wives was stronger than for the Russian husbands. The findings are discussed in the light of gender differentials in power relations, comparative statuses of Hebrew and Russian cultures in Israel, and possible self-selection of individuals wishing to leave their culture of origin via out-marriage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-738
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Gender
  • Immigration
  • Intercultural marriage
  • Israel


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