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All what you should know about Russian Women
|After writing dozens of
letters and waiting months to finally meet your new Russian friends, you
definitely want to start each relationship on a favorable note.
Obviously, the more you know about Russian values and courtship the better
your chances of making a good first impression. Helping you along your
path of courtship, I have presented an overview of six relevant marriage
topics (religion, sexual relations, women's work ethic, disenchantment,
love and marriage and courtship). Post-perestroika, Russian values and
behavior are rapidly changing, however, the following general behaviors
are based on decades of history and slow to change. Also consider,
relatively older Russian women seeking marriage matured during
pre-perestroika and more likely embody the culture and government ideology
during this period of time.
The religious revival in Russia, stems from their passionately renewed interest in their own history, and from their unprecedented freedom to study it. Religion is increasingly being looked upon as the only authentic Russian national institution. Pre-perestroika, the government limited people's associations to their work or the Communist party. The wide variety of organizations found in America were simply not available. Post-perestroika, people have been allowed to channel there energy toward the church. People, especially men, are being drawn back to liturgy because it offers the reawakening of internal culture filling the current values vacuum between Communism and Democracy. Women seem to take a more pragmatic, day-to-day approach to religion. The Orthodox Church has instilled in its women followers the merit of self-sacrifice and redemptive suffering, which directly relates to the double-burden women carry (discussed in Women's work ethic). Russian women welcome the renewed decorum, formality and manners that religion arouses among Russian men.
Pre-perestroika, the government refused to provide any information on birth control, in order to stimulate population growth. Adding to this family planning problem, contraceptive devices were next to impossible to obtain and/or ineffective. Since the 1960's, the accepted method of birth control by Russian women has been abortion, which has resulted in an abortion rate significantly higher than the U.S. Thus, depending on the age of a woman you are corresponding with don't be surprised to learn she may have had an abortion. Try not to let this taint your opinion of the woman, by understanding the different cultural situation.
If a woman you are corresponding with has already endured a failed marriage, be prepared for the possibility that her previous sexual experiences, for a variety of reasons, may have been unpleasurable. Recognizing the following potential problems is the first step toward understanding solutions:
After the Revolution of 1917, the new government declared emancipation of women as one of its primary goals, giving equal pay for equal work. The ideology was to give women equality at home and work. The underlying political agenda was to quickly increase the labor force to meet centralized production quotas.
Women were further drawn into the work force when approximately 40 million Russian men died during World War II and under the tyranny of Stalin. This caused a great shortage of able-bodied working men, requiring women with their recently gained emancipation to assume greater responsibilities. Today, Russian women frequently complain about the double burden of career and home. Over 90 percent of women are fully employed in Russia. Complicating the woman's double burden, Russian men feel it is their right to provide little help with household chores, choosing instead to read the paper or watch TV. And, should a Russian man want to help his wife, he will likely be told to get out of the kitchen. For many women prefer to remain exhausted and continue complaining. Some even admit that their tradition of heroic self-sacrifice is a form of power play, a way of retaining their aura and their status. In short, some Russian women take pride in surviving their double burden. Attesting to these work roles, a standing joke in Russia is, Question: How does a Russian man help his wife after dinner. Answer: He turns on the TV.
In my correspondence with Russian women, the two central reasons always given for wanting to marry an American man were, to escape the current economic hardships of Russia and disenchantment with Russian men. Without question, the first reason made perfect sense, causing no consternation on my part. For what is wrong with someone wanting to better there life in a country offering more opportunities for material growth. For centuries, immigrants have come to America seeking a better life and have become gainfully immersed in the American business fabric.
Regarding the second reason, it is important to understand the underlying reasons why Russian women are typically disenchanted with Russian men and how these attitudes might transfer over to American men. As discussed in Women's work ethic topic, Russian women have become entrenched in the Russian work force. Also, based on seven decades of dictatorship, the majority of Russian men lost the opportunity to develop their personal initiative. Lacking any sense of real worth in their work, men lost their motivation, self-esteem, sense of responsibility and became lazy. Women on the other hand, continued to rule their households and never suffered a sense of helplessness. With these two elements in place, Russian women have become increasingly dominant over their male counterparts, during the past 30 to 40 years. Russian women have assumed matriarchal ways and continue an aggressive super-woman tradition through sheer force of habit.
Three other important factors contributing to the Russian woman's disenchantment with Russian men centers around manners, brutality and alcoholism. The Russian man's traditional generosity and nobility of character has been suppressed by decades of centralized government authority and replaced by apathy. Russian women perceive American men to lack inhibitions, to be bold and daring. American men are considered to possess chivalry and aristocratic courtesy (even more so than Europeans) by Russian women. Russian men frequently physically beat their women stemming from personal frustrations and endeavoring to prove their manhood. For decades, alcoholism has been a tremendous problem among Russian men who consider excessive drinking an acceptable social behavior.
To summarize, many Russian woman are disenchanted with their native Russian men and think foreign men are the answer to their happiness. This may indeed be true, especially if you are the type of man looking for a traditional woman and are willing to assert your control as the head of household. Don't expect the Russian woman to just give you control, your dominance will assuredly be tested. But, at the same time you must always be courteous to your wife, treating her like the feminine woman she desires to be.
In the Western culture of America, love and marriage are intricately intertwined. If an American woman openly stated she married a man without loving him, she would be scorned by both sexes and showered with negative superlatives. However, such a statement within the Russian culture, would not be given a second thought.
A brief review of government ideology helps set the stage for understanding current orientation of love and marriage in Russia. The review starts with the Revolution of 1917, with Lenin espousing the official state position on love and marriage. That marriage must be based on love and passion, with divorce being considered an accepted escape in the absence of love. The official state ideology changed dramatically under Stalin proclaiming romantic love was the only foundation for marriage and the sexual component of love should be de-emphasized. Stalin imposed this new ideology through literature, art and the mass media, whereby the mere mention of sexuality was prohibited. This ideology of romantic love and marriage continued to be fostered by the state after Stalin, until perestroika.
Thus, how has the typical Russian woman's personal beliefs about love and marriage been affected by the past three decades of state ideology? Surveys indicate, Russian women believe in and hope for romantic love in their own marriage. However, the typical Russian woman is very pragmatic when it comes to love being a prerequisite for marriage. Heterosexual love with a husband is secondary to the values of blood kinship, child/parent responsibility and matriarchal ties. As previously noted under the topic of Sexual relations, Russian women have historically entered marriage to escape the persecution of being labeled an old maid and achieve their womanliness by bearing children. Further, marriage is viewed as a useful tool to achieve ones personal desires (e.g. escape from home, move to a different city, improve job and social status). Of course, Russian women hope true love will blossom with their mate during the course of marriage, but is not essential to a long term marriage.
The Russian viewpoint of love and marriage is obviously different than the typical American viewpoint. This undeniable difference substantiates why Russian women are willing to marry American men. Is it wrong? That's a personal decision, you must decide for yourself. Conversely, I wonder how many American men have entered into marriage with a Russian woman because she pragmatically embodied all the traits they wanted in a wife. The point of this discussion of love and marriage is simply this: Be honest with yourself and the Russian women you meet regarding the importance of love upon entering into marriage. Your Russian friend may tell you point blank she currently feels no love for you, but don't be surprised if she still wants to marry you - its her culture.
Upon first meeting the Russian women I had corresponded with, the initial characteristic that most impressed me was their feminine nature. Ask any man in America what feminine means to him and you will assuredly receive different answers. Therefore, perhaps it is appropriate at this juncture to define feminine. The Random House dictionary defines feminine as, like a woman; weak; gentle; effeminate; womanish. Further, the two key words used to define effeminate are softness and delicate. With the exception of Tatyana, the Russian women I met were the epitome of this definition. The importance of recognizing and supporting your Russian friend's feminine nature cannot be emphasized enough. For, as discussed in the above topics, Russian women are disenchanted with the typical Russian man because they have difficulty expressing their feminine nature.
So, how do you engender your Russian friend's feminine nature? Just exercise good manners. Be truthful with yourself and if you need a little brushing up, simply buy a book on manners or take a continuing education class. Besides common manners, here are a few helpful suggestions: