by Nadia F., a Russian woman living in St Petersburg, Russia
Are you considering a relationship with a Russian woman, perhaps with the idea of marrying her? There are compelling reasons to do so. But there are also pitfalls that can turn potential happiness into disaster. That's why I wrote this article. If you're an American man, you can now get the perspective of a Russian woman.
And, with some input and editing help from an American man, I understand much about where you're coming from. I can help you avoid the common mistakes American men make.
Thus, this article should help you because it brings two different viewpoints together. I'm going to give you some necessary information and some general recommendations that will help you to:
- Identify the most common difficulties.
- Understand the cultural context.
- Overcome these difficulties.
Why American men seek Russian women
Some of the reasons American men seek Russian women are that these women are:
- Smart. They are typically well-educated, which is generally appealing to the accomplished men who can afford travel to Russia.
- Practical. They have had to deal with tough conditions. Many men find their resultant practicality a refreshing change from the attitudes they have encountered in the American dating scene.
- Traditional. Russian women generally want to have children and a happy family life. Cultural issues and demographics in Russia make it hard for them to achieve this. At the same time, American women increasingly are childless and see their fulfillment in career rather than family--having watched their mothers unhappily try to balance both.
Editor's notes: These women are also:
- Beautiful. The editor has reviewed many photos sent by Russian men meeting these women. It's not you can't find beautiful women elsewhere--you surely can. But stunning beauty is a noted characteristic of Russian women. That's one reason Greta Garbo, one of the most beautiful actresses ever, was chosen to play the role of Anna Karenina in the 1935 film adaptation of Tolstoy's novel.
- Slender. Americans generally overeat and tend toward obesity, as widely reported in many periodicals and observed by travelers from many countries. With "plus size" now being considered "sexy" in the USA, American men who prefer a lean physique are competing for a shrinking pool of women on their home turf.
Why Russian women are open to the idea of an American husband
The main reason so many Russian women look for a foreign husband is that the quality of life in Russia now is much lower than in the United States and the West European countries. That isn't an opinion, it's a conclusion based on objective measurements of such things as:
- Infant mortality rates
- Expected lifespan
- Employment rates
- Freedom index
- Crime rates
....and many other metrics that you can find in various indices of quality of life. After the iron curtain was lifted, the Russian people began to travel around the world quite a bit. They see better life conditions and compare their own situation at home to what they see abroad. And, they also read those quality of life indices.
Russian women hear the anecdotes, read the literature, and perhaps travel also. They see that relocation outside of Russia means a chance to improve their lives.
Key considerations influencing a Russian woman
The employment rate is a key consideration. The job market in Russia is in a high state of fluctuation, for a variety of reasons that, collectively are complex and unlikely to change any time soon. Very few Russian men can predict what work and level of income they will have in two years.
By contrast, consider an American engineer. He may be laid off sometime in the next two years, but he sees himself as an engineer making X number of dollars per year and can pretty well count on that even if there is a temporary interruption. He's not going to be forced to dramatically change his lifestyle and adapt to a grossly different income level. The typical American businessman, having made it through the startup years, has a similar perspective.
Not so with the Russian man. Many young men in Russia do not wish to marry and take on the financial responsibility of providing for a family.
There is, in Russia, also a carryover from the Communist days when it comes to pay. That American engineer we mentioned earlier makes a little more than twice the median annual income. In Russia, an engineer is compensated poorly for his expertise and training. There's a classic joke about the guy who mistreats everyone equally, so at least he's fair about it. In Russia, that same philosophy characterizes the wage scene but nobody is laughing.
What they are doing is drinking. A lot. Alcoholism is rampant in the male population of Russia, and the effects are profound. For the woman, the effects are personally very real. And, this drunkenness--along with its rude, abusive, irresponsible, and hopeless behavior--is the reason Russian women feel there's a shortage of the worthy potential husbands in Russia. Those who do marry Russian men often regret it, due to the drunkenness of their mate or of the friends he brings around. So, divorces ensue.
The Russian women is typically looking for a man who is sober. Along with that, they expect the man to be:
She wants a husband and a steady father for their children. When moving abroad, a Russian woman hopes to find the personal security, financial stability, and higher quality of life.
Is that too much to ask? If your answer is "No, of course not," then great. If you can offer those things to a Russian woman, you have a good chance to find a good, sincere, honest, faithful, beautiful, and intelligent wife.
More about conditions in Russia
- In the USA, Americans were hit with a 50% tax in the form of inflation during Alan Greenspan's time as Chair of the Federal Reserve. That 50% inflation rate occurred over over 18 years. In Russia, the inflation rate is about 20% per year (officially "only" 10%).
- Housing prices in major Russian cities are about double the jaw-dropping prices of housing in California's Silicon Valley. Ouch. If you consider the low average salaries and high bank loan rates (about 13% per year), you can see that it is impossible for most young families to have their own apartment. Thus, several generations often live in the same apartment, consisting of 1-2 rooms (40-70 square meters). These conditions contribute to the low birth rate.
- In the USA, many retired people live well below the poverty line. In Russia, the pensions are even lower and the social support from the government is even worse.
- In the USA, nearly a third of the population has poor access to healthcare due to lack of insurance. In Russia, even those with access often cannot get the medications or medicine service they need.
Some men are opportunists who are looking for a woman they can boss around. Obviously, this is not a good deal for the woman, and it simply will not work for a woman who is educated and seeking to improve her life. She is looking for a partner, not a master to whom she will be a slave.
Men also need to exercise some caution because there are opportunists on the other side, as well. Some Russian women are simply looking for a temporary financial profit. And some women just wish to have fun or go abroad for free. You can easily identify the opportunistic woman when she asks you for a big sum of money or expensive gifts at the start of your relationship or even in the early communication stages.
So, you should choose the right woman carefully and make sure your aims are the same. What does this mean? Men have a tendency to "conquer" and count it a "win" if the woman agrees to come back to the USA with them.
But if the relationship fails, there is no win. Only loss and heartache. So, be honest with yourself and with her. If, for example, she wants to have many children and you don't, then tell her you do not think this is going to work. Having that discussion a year after you're married simply causes unnecessary pain. What is important is making a good match that will be sustainable. Landing a "trophy wife" or coming back with a beautiful woman your daughter's age might feel good initially, but it's a fool's errand. Don't be a fool.
Where to find Russian women
You can find a Russian woman via:
- Online dating sites (payment per month or per e-mail is common).
- Free chat Websites.
- Community Websites.
- Offline international marriage agencies.
- Ads in offline newspapers or magazines.
- Friends or associates who travel and are willing to make introductions.
Please be aware that there is a lot of scamming in the international dating business--just as there is in the domestic dating business. Many of these businesses are legitimate, but some are not. The scammers provide fake photos, nonexistent email addresses, and other false leads. In many cases, a married woman working part-time will answer your e-mails. Or, even a man will do this. You should, at some point, get a phone number and talk to the woman directly.
Jumping the language barrier
One of the obstacles is that many Russian women do not speak English fluently, so there will be an intermediary in your correspondence.
Men report very good results with
pocket electronic translators. These come in a small package, but
they are huge with features and benefits.
They translate any text in both directions with Russian and English pronunciation. Think about how great that is, when you actually come to Russia. You do not
need to speak Russian fluently, because you have this device.
should learn at least some basic Russian words before traveling. Once again, these
devices come in handy. You can use the language teacher function (which includes picture dictionaries and flashcards) to learn the alphabet, basic words, and common phrases with speech correction function. It will also walk you through English/Russian dialogue. Yes, really.
The reviews and detailed descriptions of the English-Russian electronic translators are here.
Insights from those who've moved
Two of my girlfriends married foreigners and moved abroad several years ago. They offer these general insights:
- If the Russian woman was in business in Russia, then it will be difficult for her to conduct a housemaid lifestyle. She would like to work abroad as well. But, she meets many problems. For example, she must speak the foreign language fluently, or the Russian government university diplomas are not valid abroad. Meeting these challenges requires much time and often some money.
- If a woman used to live in a big city, she won't be able to live in a small village. A similar environment is preferable.
- The Russian people do not count on money they don't already have. The most common planning period is "until the next salary payment."
- Due to the high inflation rate in Russia, it's impossible to plan for expenses in Russia. For example, the cheese cost $3 in September 2007 and $4 in October 2007. It's the same for all other things. This situation brings insecurity, instability, irritability, and aggression to Russian people.
- Italian men are known for expressing their emotions. So are Russian women. They are usually spontaneous, sincere, and straightforward people. They do not hide the irritation and do not always observe the subtleties many American men expect.
- Russian women usually wish to have children at an early age.
- Many Russians are not religious. Religion was officially considered "the opium of the masses" in the Soviet Union. ReadThe Communist Manifesto for insight into this.
- Contrary to what many Americans believe, the Russian are anti-authoritarian. Breaking rules is a time-honored tradition. It happens because of the lack of control in all fields in Russia (nearly no control, whatever happens it can be usually solved fast by greasing someone's palm--huge corruption in the government control field starting from policemen, customs, tax inspectors, judges, authorities, etc). So, the Russian people do not observe the traffic regulations, tax issues, documents requirements, etc.
- The marriage certificates are rarely signed in Russia. According to the law in case of divorce, the property gained during the marriage is divided in half. This is the same thing that happens in many states of the USA, especially in the case of commonlaw marriage.
- It is better not to tell the woman about the wealth in advance, especially if you are not that rich. It will finally lead to the breakup. The truth comes out eventually, so don't lie. The idea that she will love you anyhow defies logic. All you have done is shown her you can't be trusted.
If you are at the stage where you think you have found your future wife, it's time for a visit. You should visit her in Russia, and she should visit you in the USA.
Which one, first? The biggest value will come from your visit to her in Russia. While visiting Russia, you will get acquainted with the Russian woman and her family. To any man trying to determine if the match will work, this is essential. You'll also understand "where she's coming from," literally as well as figuratively, because you will experience firsthand the Russian culture, cuisine, and traditions.
As a bonus, you will have a chance to discover the beauty of Russian natural wonders and world-renowned places of interest.To understand the Russian culture and traditions, it can be worthwhile and interesting to see popular Russian movies (comedies, dramas, action films) and reading
classic Russian literature (Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Tolstoy).
Relocating to the USA
After you propose marriage, the main problem before the wedding is the long-distance relationship. Not everyone can sustain it, especially if it takes long time for the necessary documents (e.g., Visa) to be obtained.
There are cases when the Visa registration takes several years, though the people are already married and maybe even have a child or two. The couple becomes tired of waiting and the relationship falters, due to the burden of being apart.
After the wedding, the most complex problem is helping the woman adapt to, and integrate into, the United States. Especially if she does not speak English. It is very important for her to speak English when arriving in the new country of residence. So, it can be worth taking some language courses in advance and using the language learning products.
It is necessary for a woman to be ready for the difficulties in finding work, adapting to new culture, building the relationship with new relatives, etc. Some women adapt quickly. They find a good job, new hobbies, and friends. And they seem to do this almost without any problems. In general, the older the woman, the more complex is the adaptation. It's also true that the man plays a major role. If he's emotionally supportive, her chances improve greatly.
Quirk of Russian women
You should keep in mind that there was nearly no bank credit system in the Soviet Union. So, Russian women are used to saving before making large purchases, while Americans like to spend money even if they don't have it at the moment. This difference can drive an American man bonkers. This same dichotomy exists between baby boomers and their Depression-era parents. So, just be aware of it and understand there is logic behind her perspective. It's very unlikely that you're not going to change it, so have patience.
Russian cuisine is very different from standard American fare. The Russian food is more natural and healthy. It includes many vegetables, soups (Borsch) and other homemade dishes. It can be difficult for her to accept the common American fast foods, which are everywhere in the USA. You also have to remember that her healthy diet is a huge factor in why she's slender and beautiful.
Rather than trying to get her to downgrade her diet, embrace its benefits. For free articles on health, diet, and fitness, see www.supplecity.com.
Helping her adjust
Your new wife faces a complex and difficult process of adaptation. And, she's trying to do this without her family and the friends she had back in Russia. It is a huge endeavor emotionally, socially, financially, and in many other ways. She is relying on you for support in all of these ways. If you feel overwhelmed or even trapped at times, think of what she's going through. Be patient and supportive, and you will reap the rewards.
As with any relationship, respect is crucial. Understand and accept her as she is.
The Russian woman can miss Russia, Russian language, Russian culture, and lifelong friends greatly. You may wonder, "Well, if she wants to leave Russia so badly, why does she also want to go back?" She doesn't wish to move back, if her quality of life is now better. Remember, she had a rather bleak future in her home country. But just like Americans who move from, say, their home town of Appleton WI to San Jose, CA, they do miss the folks back home. Keep this in mind. Or, consider how you would feel if you and she traded places and you had moved to Russia. Would you not want to see your parents, brothers, sisters, childhood friends, or others who have an important place in your life?
So, you will need the funds to take your wife to Russia periodically. You will probably also need to host her visiting family members, who are also strangers to the American culture. Don't view this as something you have to tolerate. Instead, embrace that role as an opportunity to demonstrate your love and commitment. Approach it the idea of making sure everyone is comfortable and has a good time. This is another reason you need to visit her family before committing.
One of the best things you can do is play host to any of her friends who visit, without expecting to be the center of attention. You may not like it when "the girls" want to have time together without you, but that is something you must encourage rather than try to squelch. If you objected to this "girl time" with your previous (American) flames, you now know a key factor in why those relationships didn't work out. Some men count on the isolation of their new Russian bride to give them a great relationship. But the reality is that the more you do to prevent such isolation, the stronger your relationship will be.
Maintain the relationship
Russian women are usually patient, as they needed patience to deal with the situation they grew up in. But patience can wear thin. Just because you are the man she came here to be with doesn't mean she is forever stuck with you no matter how you treat her. Even if she can't afford to make her way back to Russia, she has other options.
She will put up with your imperfections, just as she expects you to put up with hers. But that doesn't mean she has to put up with mistreatment or disrespect. Yes, you will have disagreements and at times be angry with each other--just like any other couple. She has patience for that, just as you should have.
What few, if any, women have patience for is a chronic attitude that insults her dignity as a person. Her dependence on you is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it's an opportunity for you to show your love and support for her. On the other hand, it can mislead you into thinking she has no other options and that can lull you into complacency about how you treat her. Don't be misled.
Remember, she's smart and beautiful. Other men have no doubt noticed her. They may see her as a person with real needs they can fill, even if you see her as a pet or housemaid. So, check your attitude frequently.
It helps if you have a close friend you can talk with, someone who will "call" you on your shortcomings. Some men have a female relationship coach they trust to tell them very bluntly what they are doing wrong (for example, a cousin). If you have the self-confidence to get an honest appraisal, then that's an option to consider. Don't use that friend as a means of making you feel better about what you did wrong. Empower that friend to tell you what you did wrong and keep you straight about fixing it.
But also, look for your Russian wife's cues and clues. Does she seem sullen or angry? Is she avoiding you? Is she nagging at you over trivial things? These are the same problems you would encounter with a native American woman, and for the same reasons. The problem isn't the woman, the problem is she feels hurt. You don't amputate your foot simply because of the pain from a thorn you stepped on. You remove the thorn.
So, don't blame her. Don't brush off the "negative vibes" as irrational or unfounded, even if you can't get an explanation. These are signs something is wrong.
Unlike wine and cheese, problems do not become better with age. Tell her you're sorry for upsetting her, and ask her to tell you the one thing that you can do differently. Because women think on multiple planes simultaneously, she will probably give you a laundry list of things instead of just one. Don't be surprised, and don't argue. Pick a few things that seem most important and go to work on those immediately--she will notice the effort. Then, have the conversation again in a couple of weeks. Ask her how you're doing, and see what she says.
Better yet, discuss the conversation with another woman you trust and ask her to help you sort things out. Don't approach that discussion in an effort to justify your behavior, but instead in an effort to troubleshoot it. Many things men consider perfectly acceptable are not acceptable to a woman. Add in the cultural and other differences of a woman from Russia mixing with a man from America, and it's even more that way.
Your goal is to have a happy and close family. If you make the right match, then patience and understanding will help you realize that goal. You get understanding by listening. So, make time to just listen to your wife and encourage her to tell you her deepest feelings and desires. In addition to keeping the relationship strong, that effort will prove to be a powerful aphrodisiac for her if it's consistent and sincere.