How to help your Russian fiancee overcome nostalgia.
What's wrong with my russian wife: Nostalgia or Depression? Sooner or later this question is asked by almost every man married to a Russian woman. Nostalgia and depression are so intimately linked that one cannot tell whether nostalgia causes depression, or a depressed person starts missing his homeland and feel nostalgic.
How can a husband spot nostalgia? Here is a list of "symptoms" to watch out for:
- She starts calling to Russia more often
- She starts missing Russian food, her friends, her family
- She starts being sad most of the time, sometimes even cry
- She starts asking you to go together to visit Russia, or even just her alone
- She starts sleeping more time, or just staying in bed
- She stops dressing nicely as she used to, she'll start wearing just what ever, not really caring how she looks
- She starts spending more time watching her Russian video(s), or listening to her Russian tape(s)
- She starts being less talkative
- She may start being very easily irritable
- She will start arguments without much of a reason for it
- She may start complaining about a lot of things, mainly the lack of friends, her isolation . . .
What can be done?
She has to communicate every day with somebody, she needs a friend (friends would be even better). Russian-speaking friends would be ideal.
What would be the best way to find a friend for her? She is new to this country, she does not know its customs of making friends and you will have to help her. Probably, the best way to find a friend, and to get rid of all the negative effects of nostalgia or depression would be moving to a city with a Russian community: Russian stores, Russian church, Russian Video store.... There she wouldn't need much of your help. Look, she moved to a new country to be with you, can you move at least to a new city to be with her, to make her happier? This is a very-very important thing for her. Everywhere there are such communities, just call the Russian embassy or a consulate in your country and they'll give you at least some information!
Some of you will probably say, what's wrong with American friends for a Russian wife? Many of the American female friends I met tried to convert me into an American forgetting that I didn't come here as an immigrant, I came here as a wife, and I want to remain my identity as a Russian wife (apparently that's what attracted my husband). They would criticize me for ironing clothes for my husband, or for doing his laundry, saying that he's abusing me. That would very often make me feel bad, feel like I am doing something wrong. But what's wrong with it? I love him, he's my man, and I will do laundry for him, and for our children, when we have them. Man, how difficult - to toss the dirty clothes into a washer, and then to move it into drier!:). He is doing a lot of other things that I don't can't do (like fixing electrical appliances, nailing things, assembling furniture, moving and carrying heavy stuff) , but he does not consider that an abuse! Why should I! And if you love somebody, how can you even suspect an abuse, you should completely trust that person, shouldn't you? I do the best I can for our family, and I know he does, too.
And you, dear husbands, if you try too hard to change your wife she may as well become an American-type wife you were trying to avoid. So, if you chose a Russian wife, don't try to change her too much, let her be a Russian wife :). Just help her to adjust, be sensitive to her, and patient.
And the last advice: don't give up on your wife! There will be hard times, but you both chose to be married. It's not a merchandise that if it does not fit you, can be returned back to Russia! You both should think of a marriage as a room without exit, and then take a decision to marry! There will be no way back! Marriage is such a blessing!
How to overcome cultural shock.
There are usually several steps of immersion into a foreign culture. I've been through all of them, and I am glad I can show possible pitfalls and traps to others. It's a process when you get re-modeled a lot. Your Russian Wife may not always like the new herself, but this is the only way for her to live as member of this culture. She will have to give away some things, but she will gain other things.
Step #1. A RW just arrives to the States. She feels excited about everything and everyone she sees. She absorbs as many impressions as possible. She is amazed at the abundance of groceries in the stores, at how clean the streets are, at skyscrapers, at how everybody smiles, the compliments she gets about her accent and her beauty, meeting husband's family, his friends.... She is very overwhelmingly happy, and shares this happiness with her man. It is a lot of stress, but positive stress! She spends great time with her man, being forgiving, being curious about everything. It seems to her so exotic to be speaking English day and night. In her mind she wishes her all friends and relatives could see her at those moments. And she imagines how she's going to tell all of them about her trip. Here is a trap: she is not a tourist, she will not be back in a month to share all this excitement with her friends and relatives, but she does not realize it yet! She subconsciously thinks that one day she'll go back home, that this is just a tour, and she is temporarily here. She knows that THIS IS her new home now, she just does not realize it yet, and it's not in her system yet! There are so many new things for her: new food, new house, new water, new car, new air, new people, new language, new.... I can go on and on. What's there remained the same? The same her! Yes, even her husband may not be the same cheery and exotic excited-tourist any more. But, hold it! She still does not realize it (because her excitement is so contagious that he feels excited also).
This step usually lasts from a month to a couple of months (it depends on wh ether you live in a big city, or a farm, or a tiny little town, and where she comes from also).
Step #2. It's not an adjustment yet. It is when the girl starts looking at things more calmly, seeing things in their natural colors, without emotions. And she sees that her husband is not actually a Prince, he is a human like everybody else. He can actually get upset if he has problems at work, that he has to leave her to go to work. He also has his own habits: he squeezes the toothpaste a "wrong way", he leaves his things and clothes everywhere, he doesn't like some Russian food that she adores, he is not interested (but for some reason says he just doesn't have time) to learn Russian. And after all it's not that fun to be speaking, listening and seeing English 24 hours a day ;)! She finds out about his personality and comes to the conclusion that they are different, and have different reactions on the same things (what's actually normal since they are from different countries and cultures).
Turns out that America isn't actually that exciting. It's country just like any other country - with its own pluses and minuses. There are no people on the streets, they are all in their cars. There are no carefree children playing outside by themselves. There is something called political correctness, and Americans actually like to sue, so she has to be careful at what she does and says, not like back in Russia. That Americans are not actually all that fit as they show it in Santa Barbara soap opera in Russia, and they do not wear those nice clothes either. That the abundance of food is actually hormone-antibiotics-pesticide filled stuff; and it tastes so different from the Russian food. The variety of the same food can be really confusing: which one is better? After all, if in Russia there is butter - in America there may be up to 15 types of butter! And then, she sees how from eating almost the same products she did in Russia, here in America she gains weight. Now she understands why so many people in America look like the sumo wrestlers.
Turns out that the price marked on the skirt, for example, isn't what she's going to pay! There are taxes that have to be added! And why does it have to be so complicated - couldn't they have included the total price! Americans like coupons and sales. Well, she understands sales! But coupons! At first it's like a little bit embarrassing to use them: what if they think that she is poor? Actually, here I have to stop and explain another difference. In Russia before doing something we always think, what the others will think of me if I do this or that, what if I look ridiculous. I discovered that in America this is the last thing people are worried about. They are more concern not to provoke somebody to sue them!
The phone calls were another, may be even a more annoying thing - there will be always calls offering her to buy this, to participate in that, to donate money, to subscribe for a newspaper, ....etc. And man, it's not just annoying - they speak so fast that often she can't even figure out what's happening, what they want! One day I received a phone call from the police station officer! He asked me by my name, and then started talking in a very low and strict voice so fast that I became totally scared (I was wondering what I did wrong!). Finally I decided to hand the phone to my husband, and turned out that they were calling to ask for a donation to fight drug abuse among school children or something like that.... Man, did he have me scared!
Then she starts realizing that her English wasn't actually that bad - people understand her, and she likes it. She finds out that she can actually get a job and learn to drive and do all those things as regular Americans. And that is really pleasing.
Step #3. Nostalgia. Click here to know how a husband can spot nostalgia and how he can help his Russian Wife to overcome it.
How to get used to different cultural habits.
Please remember: not all Russian women are the same. If she has a good education and an interesting job in Russia, she will probably be bored of staying at home in some months even if she enjoyed it a lot in the beginning.
On the other hand, it's much more difficult for a Russian woman to make a career than for a Western one. In Russia women have fewer career opportunities and paid much less. That's why Russian women get much more satisfaction and joy being a housewife. Those women who have reached a high position, seldom look for a husband abroad.
Arriving in a foreign country, a Russian woman could have some problems with language. But when your girlfriend will be surrounded by people, who speak English only, there will be the effect of a "Deep Lunge" in a language environment. And this is one of the best ways to study a language. Of course, some language classes, when still in Russia, will be more than helpful. A teacher will explain grammar, phonetic and spelling rules to your fiancee in Russian - it will help her in future when she will start using them in practice or will continue studying the language in America or Europe.
Also changing home, country, customs, traditions, rules could be difficult for anybody. The first few months she will be staying at home.
Most of Russians are intelligent and well-educated. Russian education is still good enough. But they live in a completely different world. So will not be surprised if you will have to teach her the simpliest everyday things such as: how to pay by check or how to use a credit card. Also she could have problems with household devices and modern electronics utilities.