Accepted Paper:

Reasoning the difference: Finnish wives' explanations for their multicultural marriages  


Kaisa Nissi (University of Jyväskylä)

Paper short abstract:

Other people's expectations and cultural stereotypes are a part of multicultral couples' lives. In this paper I examine, how Finnish wives, married to immigrant Muslim men, explain their marriages through concpet of exceptional love and practical reasons.

Paper long abstract:

Multicultural couples, in this case Finnish women and Muslim immigrant men, live in a situation where other people's expectations, comments and also cultural stereotypes can become a part of couples' lived experience. Reasons for this a-typical marriage are commonly asked from the wives, and couples have to explain their relationship to other people, friends, family but also for a wider society.

A multicultural marriage can be seen as an exception in a Finnish society, which is often seen as rather homogenic. Marrying a foreigner creates a difference, and so called normal, romantic love is easily questioned in these marriages. This is related to questions of what is a family and who one should marry. Finnish women confront negative comments about their relationship and they have to justify their life for other people and also for themselves.

A multicultural marriage is explained through "crazy, unexceptional love", through negative stereotypes of Finnish men and with practical reasons. It is typical in my material that these relationships are seen as exceptional compared to "normal" Finnish marriages and a romantic love is either exaggerated or underrated.

This paper is based on my PhD study, which concerns the marriages of Lutheran, Finnish women and their Muslim background immigrant husbands.

Panel P02
Love exchange and sentimental circulations: rethinking romantic love (EN-FR)