An Exploration into the Lived Experiences of Mixed Marriage Couples Living in Northern Ireland in a context of Sectarianism and Conflict.
(2015) An Exploration into the Lived Experiences of Mixed Marriage Couples Living in Northern Ireland in a context of Sectarianism and Conflict., no. 103.
This dissertation offers an exploration of lived experiences of mixed marriage couples living in Belfast in the context of sectarianism and conflict. Data was generated from semi-structured interviews with four mixed marriage couples that were married during the troubles. Due to the divided and sectarian nature of Belfast and Northern Ireland during the troubles, choosing to be in a mixed marriage created a number of issues and concerns regarding safety, intimidation, stigma, and effects on the marriage and family life. This dissertation explores these themes in depth, to reveal a representation of the life experiences of the couples. The key themes revealed within analysis were stigma, location and class, fear, impact on children and increased tolerance. The research found that location and class had a significant impact on the couples lived experiences. When they were able to afford to move to the 'neutral' middle-class areas of Belfast their quality of life improved significantly. The couples all felt fear to a certain extent, particularly at the beginning of their marriages, as the 'troubles' were in their most active period and the divide was at its most violent. The couples all experienced stigma, and were devalued by some family members for entering a mixed marriage. They also felt the need to conceal their relationship in order to avoid the stigma. The impact of being in a mixed marriage family on the children the couple produced meant that they were more open minded and often did not identify strongly as either Protestant or Catholic. However, for the couples there were some conflicts in the marriage regarding what religion their children should join and participate in, and what schools to send them to. A significant theme revealed in the analysis was the observation, perception, experience and feeling of increased tolerance in Northern Ireland. All of the couples spoke of feeling more free, and not having to conceal their mixed marriage for fear of intimidation or stigma.