In this chapter, we turn our focus from the communities of practice within which women negotiate their identity and social value to the intimate sphere of couples’ relations. The discussion of the broad institutional context remains relevant for analyzing the constitution of women’s subjectivities, while power hierarchies embedded in the cultural loading of the name permeate marital power relations. Here, however, we present a discussion of the feminine self in the context of issues specifically arising from the dimension of women as wives and partners. In the area of couples relations, feminist research indicates how different contrasting ideal models of intimacy rise in the socio- historical specificity of cultural dimensions (Cancian, 1987; Jameison, 1998). The current structure of gender and its related expectations and values shape current couples’ relationships in such way that ambivalence and contradicting expectations are heightened (Risman, 1999). The powerful cultural trend of divorce, argues Hackstaff (2000), simultaneously emphasizes marital contingency and marital work ethics. Hackstaff’s findings are considered to be relevant here as, unlike other cultural niches in Israel, the middle-class professional, secular women in our sample tend to position themselves against first-world trends. These trends include the following: lengthy premarital cohabitation, postponed transitions to parenthood, and high expectations for a continuously passionate and satisfying relationship (Benjamin and Tilustan, 2010).
KeywordsMarital Relationship Israeli Society Romantic Love Joint Family Emotion Work
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