LearnRussianwith Us!

Start Learning!

Russian Language Blog

Russian Mail-Order Brides (Part II) Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Culture, General reference article

If you missed the beginning of the story, here it is .

Russian Wedding by Brett Jordan on Flickr.com

Russian Wedding by Brett Jordan on Flickr.com

The challenges faced by couples that get together on these mail-order bride sites are many. Too often, the woman does not speak English very well, or at all. It is hard enough to effectively communicate with one another if you speak the same language. Just imagine the difficulty faced by these couples. Russian women coming to America are usually giving up quite a bit. Unfortunately, this simple fact is frequently overlooked by their husbands-to-be. Often the woman has a job to quit or she drops out of college, she says goodbye to family and friends, perhaps for a very long time. She really is putting all of her eggs into one basket. She is diving into a completely different culture to which she has to adapt.

On the other hand, the American man is faced with the possibility that he is simply her “meal ticket” and that once she gets her US citizenship, she will leave him. Bringing her to America will cost him thousands of dollars in fees, tickets, time off work, and so on. He may be putting his reputation on the line with his friends and family – this could be a big deal to him. Likely, his friends and family may think he is going to make a big mistake by marrying in this fashion. Some couples won’t even admit to meeting their wives this way. At the end of the day, he still has his job, his home, his family and friends close by. 

A member of my immediate family married a man she had met online. He soon came over to stay with her in Belarus for several months. They had a pretty decent time while he was visiting. The American dollar went a long way. They went out to dinners, visited museums, and did other things that were planned /offered by the Russian party. They seemed to be getting along fairly well, though as with any relationship, things weren’t always perfect. The gentleman was retired, so he was able to stay for quite a while. He came over twice spending an average of three to five months each time (due to the fact that the paperwork that would allow the lady to go to America was taking an unusually long time, even with a lawyer).

After finally coming to America,  the things quickly deteriorated. It turned out that the husband-to-be wanted to watch TV 24/7 and had very little concern about how his new wife is adapting to her new life. When arguments began, they were often accompanied by the phrase, “I’ll have you deported so fast it’ll make your head spin,” or something like that. My family member was given a car by her spouse, which was a nice thing to do; however, when the relationship ran into problems, the air would be let out of the tires. The phone cords would all be taken out of the wall, the money would be taken away, etc. With no money, no real ability to speak the language, no phone, what could she do? Would anybody put up with this for long? 

An American woman would likely divorce a man if the relationship became bad enough; a Russian woman – who is in a new country with few friends, connections, financial resources, and very limited knowledge about how things work in America  might be more likely to stay in an abusive or loveless marriage because of her fear of not being able to make it on her own. 

When these women come to the US, they often are completely dependent upon their spouse in the same way an infant depends on her parents for everything. In many cases, the male spouses do not educate their wives about how the household finances work and what it means to live on credit (not cash, like most people still do in Russia). A typical American lifestyle is very very different from a typical Russian lifestyle; many things seem strange and require explanation. I have witnessed stories where the husband would give the wife a small amount of money believing that this was all they needed to know about finances. Lack of trust, as justified as it may be, is the seed from which a lot of other issues end up sprouting over time. 

Now, in all fairness, I understand that ulterior motives is what concerns most men marrying these women. Sure, she may be using the man to get a green card. She may want to marry a man so he can buy things, bring her family to USA, and so on but if you start the relationship treating someone like they are on probation, you will probably not get very far. I believe, there are ways to protect your assets without making one feel like a second class citizen J .

In closing, if you have decided to take this course of action, know what you are getting yourself into: prepare to be a teacher and a student, realize that this “subject” takes a while to master, and under no circumstances take it lightly. If you do, you are just wasting everybody’s time. In a lot of cases the marriage deteriorates simply because one or both spouses do not fathom the depth of cultural differences and the need to learn and adapt to them . Multicultural marriages require a lot of work and if you want to make one last, you better be ready to roll up your sleeves and put in the time. Too many of the Russian-bride situations I know have ended badly or are ongoing and ought to end. As many of you already know, a successful marriage is something you have to work at – it doesn’t just happen. It is filled with more challenges than one can imagine. When both spouses are from the same country, speak the same language, and share the same culture, the divorce rate is close to one out of every two. With that in mind, you can easily imagine the struggles these couple face when they are from very different cultures, speak vastly different languages, and do not equally share in the risks associated with getting married. If after reading the material you are still planning to find someone special in Russia, here are some words that you might find helpful 🙂 .

жена (wife)

У него очень красивая жена. (He has a very beautiful wife.)

муж (husband)

Мой бывший муж очень много работал. (My ex-husband worked a lot.)

Давай поженимся!(Let’s get married!)

Выходи за меня замуж. (Marry me. – when a man proposes)

Катя, выходи за меня замуж! (Katya, marry me!)

Женись на мне. (Marry me. – when a woman offers herself as a wife)

Она его на себе женила. (She made him marry her).

молодожены (newlyweds)

Молодожены возвращаются завтра. (The newlyweds are coming back tomorrow.)

развод (divorce)

понимание (understanding)

гармония (harmony)

любовь (love)




Tags: , , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author:Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Lera:

    The most important thing a woman in the situation must know that 1. if she doesn’t speak English, there’re interpreters and she can request them at pretty much any state or gov. organizations, even private companies have interpreters. At the very least there’re community services, and chances are some people speak Russian there, they can help.
    2. If the spouse says, “I’ll have you deported”, it’s abuse (I’m not even mentioning slashing the tires, etc.)…the wife must call domestic violence line (there’re Russian interpreters there). They will tell her all about her rights.

    The most important thing to remember – the victim can get her legal status in US without her spouse in this situation, he can blackmail all he wants…as soon as he does, she can get green card without him.

    Bottom line, before leaving home country, ask for help and study about your rights. This will be the best advice.

    • c parker:

      @Lera I found your comments balanced. If I were 2 marry internationally to make sure I have 1 to 2 children of my own does us law protect me?

  2. Mark:

    I met my fiancee on a website about 5 years ago. Initially, I was writing to 7 different women, and eventually, I narrowed the field until I was only writing to 1. I have visited her twice in Ukraine where she lives, and most recently, flew her and her son to Montenegro for a vacation away from the uncertainty at home.

    We have talked about her moving here, I also offered to move to Ukraine to be with her. I know how hard it will be for her and her son to adjust to life here in Canada. It’s scary, but I have fallen for her, and will do whatever I can to help. Her English is improving, but I am also learning Russian. I have even compiled a list of local organizations within the Ukrainian and Russian communities here that can help.

    I recently spoke with a lawyer to see what my options are for bringing her to Canada. I don’t like the chances of getting her a temporary resident visa, the lawyer says there is about a 50% chance they will turn her down. Based on the fact that the Ukraine is sliding into a civil conflict and even possibly, open war with Russia. So I may have to go to Ukraine, and marry her to start a sponsorship to get her here.

    The immigration process is daunting, but I know it is just as daunting to move away from everything you know, and your family and friends. I have met her mother, and she likes me. My Russian is good enough to understand her when she said that I have “kind eyes and a calm disposition”. Her mom does support what she is doing, looking to move out of the country. Even her brother supports her decision. And her son wants his mom to be happy. And that is what I want too.

    I do think that men here in N America need to realize that they are dealing with a person. Not a sex machine, trophy or commodity. I know that my Natasha is a strong woman, she is intelligent and independent. We have talked often of our goals in life, politics, raising children, and a myriad of other topics. I feel very good about my choice, and I think she also feels good about the choice she has made. We both understand the road ahead is not going to be easy, but we can work together to travel that road to end of our lives, wherever it may lead.

  3. Delia:


    Too bad many Russian women… actually, I should say ALL the Russian women who come here as brides/wives don’t know anything about these issues. There’s no such thing as punishment for domestic abuse in Russia, so they won’t know or even think that it’s possible to report your husband, an American, who has lived here in his country all his life! They might not even think that there’s a Russian community closeby, especially if it’s a small town. What I’m trying to say that in most cases they are pretty helpless. Too bad there’s no such “INS service” as checking on newlyweds: whether new wives are real wives or slaves to their American husbands.

  4. Delia:


    I am sure you already did but in case you haven’t: check the services of the Canadian embassy in Ukraine. I used to work at the US Embassy and there was a protocol what to do when an American came to the country to wed a local woman. I am not saying it will make the emigration process easier but it might make it faster.

  5. Helen:

    Jesus wept!
    First off, I am truly sorry a member of your family had to go through this.
    Sadly, there are fair number of similar cases.

    I am with Lera: there is a legal recourse.
    A good lawyer will make a mincemeat out of this guy.
    Some will take a case like this pro-bono (because it will be a great free advertisement for their firm for similar cases) or on contingency basis (attorneys fees will be ultimately paid by husband’s estate)

    Not only there is a clear case for abuse, but there is also evidence of false imprisonment (tire slashing-hence preventing from leaving, threats).
    A good lawyer will also be able to sew on a trafficking charge to that, as the guy certainly was expecting sex and in conjunction with false imprisonment it will stick.

    The lady will not only get her green card without him, but will get his entire estate in case he goes to jail. Even if he manages to get out of jail term, she will be eligible for compensation: emotional damage t start with and then a lawyer will build on from there.

    Guys like that make me sick!

  6. Ken:

    Здравствуйте Jenya:
    I met my wife Olga online about 5 years ago, we met in person 3 months later, and we married in Ukraine about a year afterward. I stayed in Ukraine with Olga and her son for the month necessary after we applied to be married (visiting her mother, sister and husband, and friends each day), and I returned to Canada about a week later to tend to business. The following year she came to rural Canada as a permanent resident (a lawyer in Montreal did the work). Since the beginning, I’ve been to Ukraine 4 times, and Olga has been back home 3 times. Her son is now in school (college) in St. Petersburg, and she is very happy. She says that I spoil her and her son, but to me it’s just normal living. I realize that Olga has been doing all of the hard work by adapting to Canada and by being away from her son and her country, so I rarely object to anything she does. She has made many friends, and she is always busy. She is on Skype every day to Ukraine and/or Russia, and we have 3 Russian TV channels which she enjoys.
    We both have the same moral base, and both of us have a humorous outlook on life, so I guess that helps. We are both quite social, and we both enjoy gardening and being outdoors.
    Otherwise, I’d say to any man looking for a woman online to be bold, be honest, don’t be selfish, and above all don’t forget the flowers.

    • Jenya:

      @Ken Ken, wonderful story and wonderful advice! It is great that you understand just how hard it is to adapt to a new culture and learn the language. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a comment: