Couple Relationships in the Arab Region: Changes and Renegotiations

Couple Relationships in the Arab Region: Changes and Renegotiations



Social Research Center (SRC)


This chapter investigates the potential impact of two competing forces on the positioning and dynamics of marriage in the Arab region. It also investigates the level of satisfaction and the possible emergence of a new framework of conscious choice. The first type of forces support individual control. They foster informal unions and equitable dynamics. The expectations are that these relationships are governed by individual choices and are characterized by more closeness and romantic emotions. The second type of forces include the centrality of marriage, as well as a traditional division of gender roles. These forces sustain the institution of marriage, as well as a patriarchal separation of roles. The expectations are that these latter relationships lend themselves to pressured or even forced marriages and are characterized by uneven power relationships and less closeness and romantic ideals. This chapter demonstrates that couple relationships, particularly among the young generations, are caught between two opposing forces. Transformations are occurring, but the speed and degree of change vary widely among countries, as well as between males and females. The role of love and intimacy in shaping couple relationships is also shifting. The current evidence depicts a level of practicality in partner selection, as well as a degree of tension within marriage. It suggests that power relationships remain dominant. It also points to a transitional phase where women are more assertive in claiming their rights and exercising them in different formats.

Publication Date

Spring 4-4-2020

Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Title

Couple Relationships in a Global Context - Part of the European Family Therapy Association Series book series (EFTAS)


Angela Abela, Sue Vella, Suzanne Piscopo






New York

First Page


Last Page



Couple relationships, Marriage patterns, Marital unions, Marriage satisfaction, Gender roles, Arab region

Couple Relationships in the Arab Region: Changes and Renegotiations