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Marriage in an Armenian-American Culture


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#1 Anoushik

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 11:45 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm sure this subject has been discussed one way or another in Hyeforum. But I'd like to revive it and ask this: how do you feel about the state of marriage in Armenian-American culture? Specifically first-generation Armenian-American? What does marriage mean to Armenian men and women? As immigrants to America and having "American" education? Or having "American" education yet trying to preserve Armenian customs? Are there conflicts? What are your views?

#2 Em

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 11:39 PM

Barev, Anoushik jan. Great question. Very relevant topic.

Where to start? I can say so much, yet the prevailing thought is that if both the male and female are educated (the more so the better in this regard) they are able to build a union wherein both have close to equal rights and respect. When the woman is more educated, the relationship suffers. It's more difficult to keep an educated woman "in line". Of course, this issue is not exclusive to Armenians, yet it is a very valid concern for us.

Some of the education I have received has directly challenged or negated the norms, values and/or expectations of my culture, yet I think I have found the balance of allowing the former to open me up whilst the latter I practice daily.

I will elaborate later re how it has affected my relationship(s).

#3 Anoushik

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:02 AM

Thanks for your reply Em. I agree with all of your points. But what about when both the man and the woman are educated, try to do their best to regard each other with the highest respect, yet because they are still surrounded by the "culture" and its established cultural norms they feel that culture's pull in their relationship. I'd like to take this discussion into that direction. Not so much so with the couple as individuals in the marriage, but more so with the couple facing the established cultural norms.

Some examples observed in the Armenian culture (of the top of my head)

- Separation of men and women in social events
- Lack of displays of affection in public (hand-holding)
- Women scolded for expressing their views
- Not sharing household chores equally

etc.

#4 Azat

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 09:04 AM

not that i have a say in this topic since i'm a single male... however i think its what the couple makes it to be and not cultural pressures on the from outside.

- Separation of men and women in social events
not sure what you mean by this. but we choose to participate in those social events.

- Lack of displays of affection in public (hand-holding)
armenian men are idiots when it comes to this... however im not sure if there are social pressures from outside

- Women scolded for expressing their views
wow... i have to be honest and say i have not seen something like that for 10-20 years

- Not sharing household chores equally
how is this a cultural pressure? its what the couple make it


i know im making things sound too simplistic but i think so much of it depends on the couple and not the culture and they choose to allow cultural pressures into their union or not

#5 Yervant1

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 11:05 AM

Thanks for your reply Em. I agree with all of your points. But what about when both the man and the woman are educated, try to do their best to regard each other with the highest respect, yet because they are still surrounded by the "culture" and its established cultural norms they feel that culture's pull in their relationship. I'd like to take this discussion into that direction. Not so much so with the couple as individuals in the marriage, but more so with the couple facing the established cultural norms.

Some examples observed in the Armenian culture (of the top of my head)

- Separation of men and women in social event

This is not limited to Armenian families, I've seen so many other cultures do it too. I think it's more to the fact that men and women have different interests, and the separation happens without any effort. There is another factor as well which is the size of the gethering. In my household if number of guests is less, then the cohesion of the sexes is better and I don't see separation, but when it's big numbers then the separation happens. Also I think there is another reason which is women like to form little groups in order to get their private informations from each other.

- Lack of displays of affection in public (hand-holding)

I personally feel that show of affection in public should be in moderation, so that it doesn't look like you are advertising yourself. Holding hands is not a must if one party is feeling uncomfortable with it, there are lots of other ways of showing affection like letting the other person know that you are very much involved with the other's conversation with facial jestures and smiles with some touching along the way to say the least.

- Women scolded for expressing their views

Scolding of any sex in public is a no no, however some lose their cool be it men or women.

- Not sharing household chores equally

This is something that needs lots of work in order to correct the imballance. The older generation both male and females not all of them of course, still thinks that men shouldn't do housework because that's a women's job.
Nowadays both parties are working outside, therefore the household chores should be shared because the sooner you finnish the work the sooner you have quality time with each other.

#6 Nané

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:38 AM

Thanks for your reply Em. I agree with all of your points. But what about when both the man and the woman are educated, try to do their best to regard each other with the highest respect, yet because they are still surrounded by the "culture" and its established cultural norms they feel that culture's pull in their relationship. I'd like to take this discussion into that direction. Not so much so with the couple as individuals in the marriage, but more so with the couple facing the established cultural norms.

Some examples observed in the Armenian culture (of the top of my head)

- Separation of men and women in social events
- Lack of displays of affection in public (hand-holding)
- Women scolded for expressing their views
- Not sharing household chores equally

etc.


Here's my take on this topic - there is obsolutely no reason for a couple to bow down to the established cultural norms if the norms simply don't make sense to the couple. The couple should do what is right for the couple. If others follow suit, the better ... if not, so be it. If those others are critical ... maybe they should not be part the couple's social circle.

Edited by Nané, 21 June 2010 - 09:38 AM.


#7 Sip

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 05:50 PM

To me, marriage has always seemed like this very unnecessary drama-fest which doesn't make much sense in our today's world anymore. Basically it comes down to being a contract that if the couple decide to part ways in the future, they have to split up material possessions.

I do kind of understand the point of females wanting this contract as traditionally they have had much less ability to obtain and maintain material possessions. Also when there are kids involved (or possibility of kids), again it is nice for the female to have some sort of insurance as having kids can certainly very negatively impact one's professional life. But when both the male and the female have strong earning powers and don't really care about having kids, such arrangements make much less sense.

There is also the "traditional" aspect of marriage which we have discussed many times. You just can't get around traditional views. They will eventually dissipate as part of the usual organic change in people's outlooks on "societal norms".

#8 MosJan

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 10:50 AM

Sip jan amen mard chi or esorva kyanqova aprum ( today's world )

Sip jan mi vaxetsy aper :) amen ban shat lav k@lini

#9 MosJan

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 10:54 AM

joghovurd jan inchu barthatsnel amen ban, amen inch shat parz e

#10 Anoushik

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:45 AM

Thanks guys for your replies. I wanted to give a few days to have more people participate (knowing myself, I tend to jump in and reply to everyone's post :) )

Yervant and Azat, I appreciate your views. However, I believe you both gave an idealized viewpoint, based on wishful thinking rather than reality in today's LA Armenian culture. I am not talking about individual cases (or couples) but about what is taking place generally around us. Actually Yervant, I believe the Armenian community in Canada has had the chance to blend in and adopt the best of Canada's culture (based on European ideals). The LA community has yet to catch up.

The hand-holding to show affection was just an example. Of course, if a couple does not feel the need to hold hands than it is not necessary. But I believe a loving couple should make efforts to show that they care about each other, or making efforts to show that they care about each other increases the love/bond between the couple. And I'm talking about an established couple, not the newly formed lovey-dovey couple. Now, how does this fit in to the cultural norms I'm talking about? Well, if you observe Armenian couples in LA you'll see that the woman is walking many feet away from her husband. That's what I'm talking about.

The separation of men and women during social gatherings - in some instances the couples don't even sit together during dinner. The ladies sit on one corner and the men sit on another corner. And a couple definitely will stand out if they insist on sitting together.

Azat, I'm glad that you haven't seen Armenian women being scolded for expressing their views. It's not a surprise that your social circle doesn't involve backward, uneducated, traditionalists who believe men are above women and women should just hold their views (if they contradict men's views!).

About chores: yes, that is definitely cultural. But maybe not cultural pressure to not do chores, but rather cultural reinforcement to not do chores on the men's part. And experience shows that this is not just an Armenian cultural norm, but also American. Women in America are also still struggling to get their spouse to help out more with household chores. So I guess I shouldn't have included this in the list :)

#11 Anoushik

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:49 AM

Sip, I don't agree with you. The role of marriage is still very important. Children need to be brought up in a stable environment that only marriage can provide. Yes, a small number of couples will decide to remain child-free and therefore marriage is not relevant to them. But the majority of couples will go on and have children, and thus marriage is very important.

#12 Anoushik

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:54 AM

Here's my take on this topic - there is obsolutely no reason for a couple to bow down to the established cultural norms if the norms simply don't make sense to the couple. The couple should do what is right for the couple. If others follow suit, the better ... if not, so be it. If those others are critical ... maybe they should not be part the couple's social circle.

Nane, definitely agreed. Especially in Los Angeles, when one has such a big choice of who to include in their social circle. But one can't ignore/avoid extended family. Thus this is where I have also made my observations.

#13 Nané

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 10:22 AM

But one can't ignore/avoid extended family. Thus this is where I have also made my observations.


That is what I always thought :) But I think differently now. You don't have to avoid them ... but you can (and should)ignore their so called norms if they are not acceptable by you. I know it's a bit hard to "stand out" as you said, but once you do, the rest comes easy. Those extended family members will realize that you have your own viewpoint and are not willing to stand down just because you are in their presence. If they accept it (even reluctantly) - good for them. If they make it an issue and actually go as far as to criticize you, then they should be avoided.




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