Russian brides via the internet - do they work?
January 13, 2009 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend whose friends are Russian brides who got married via an internet site. I'm wondering how long these types of marriages tend to last and what they are like. Are there any blogs or research about experiences of these kinds of relationships?
posted by vizsla to Human Relations (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in high school, our neighbor's family completely fell apart and the wife fled and the husband, who was incidentally a Lutheran minister, decided he would go to China and find himself a wife. A few years before, he had lost his leg in a railroad accident; so he probably looked quite courageous going to China to lobby our government to let him bring his young bride back to Berkeley, California.

Well, she came to Berkeley and everything seemed peaceful until a young(er) man moved into their basement apartment. She spent all the time the minister wasn't there in his apartment, vacuuming the floors or something. He moved out and stayed in town. She got her Green Card and disappeared into the night. I remember this guy walked around the neighborhood on crutches asking everyone if they had seen his wife. This all happened in the space of a year.
posted by parmanparman at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think parmanparman's account must be fairly common. Of course, all I know about these kinds of things I know from A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.
posted by eralclare at 2:12 PM on January 13, 2009

ThirteenKiller can give you forum names, but a lot of the visa forums are full of (terrible) stories about Russian brides who didn't work out.
posted by k8t at 2:16 PM on January 13, 2009

I know someone (who, frankly, was a supreme idiot, and a complete genetic throwback) who got scammed by a beautiful Korean girl he met in a bar. She went absolutely gaga over him, from minute one, and after a few years of fighting Immigration to prove they were a real couple, they got married. She invited her family over, and within 2 days maxed out all his credit cards & disappeared.

If it sounds too good to be true...
posted by IAmBroom at 2:19 PM on January 13, 2009

Another anecdotal experience: a friend found a mail order Russian bride about twelve years ago, and they're still happily married. He already had three kids and was coming out of a fiercely messy divorce. I was totally dubious when they got hitched, but it's worked well for them all -- kids, husband and wife happy together.
posted by airplain at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2009

I'm wondering how long these types of marriages tend to last

If you're lucky, until the Green Card.
If you're average, until she finds where you keep the money.
If you're not so lucky, until the next morning when you wake up in a bathtub full of ice.

I know, either personally or through family, a few people who actually went to Russia and found brides the old-fashioned way, without the online scam, and the failure rate for those marriages is also alarmingly high.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, she came to Berkeley and everything seemed peaceful until a young(er) man moved into their basement apartment.

That's interesting. I had always wondered what keeps these Russian women who marry overweight, middle-aged, balding American schlubs with shitty jobs from abandoning the schlub once they get here and find out their guy is pretty much rock bottom on the social pecking order.

I guess the answer is, "Nothing."
posted by jayder at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2009

The Great Ukranian Bride Hunt. Read it and cringe.

Just anecdotally I've never known this sort of marriage to end well. The woman is physically or emotionally abused and flees, or takes the man to the cleaners financially and flees.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can only speak to one example, but I have a friend who went to Russia (Siberia specifically) to meet a woman he found through an online relationship site. He eventually brought her back to the US and they married in less than a year. 8 years later (now) they have two beautiful kids and a happy marriage. The whole thing surprised the crap out of me - I swore he was going to get killed when he was in Russia. But I was wrong... it worked out well in the end, Green Card and all.

With that said, I'm sure this is the exception more than the rule... but still... it can work.
posted by tundro at 4:12 PM on January 13, 2009

It's not just the men who get burned.
posted by availablelight at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2009

Anastasia Solovieva, another mail-order bride who met a sad end. Apparently her husband abused his first mail-order bride (who was lucky enough to escape). The combination of young, pretty woman desperate to escape poverty + socially unskilled, controlling man almost always does not wendell.

The "happy" mail-order marriage stories - and I don't doubt they exist, even if they are fewer - seem to be based upon genuine love and goodwill on both sides (like any other solid marriage), not "Western women are Teh Ebil" coupled with "escaping a life of poverty."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:24 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for scholarly research on the subject, I can recommend Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and "Mail Order Marriages," by Nicole Constable. It's available on amazon and (partially) google books.

It was required reading for the Anthropology of the Philippines class I took a few years ago. Focus is a little more on Asia than Europe / Eurasia, but it covers a lot of territory, and reads really well.

And I have a wonderful bridge for sale, in Brooklyn...
posted by charmcityblues at 5:51 PM on January 13, 2009

When I was doing some immigration work I read a lot of anecdotal stuff about a ring in Russia that was sending young women over to "marry" men, then framing the men up as abusers. If they can convince ICE that they entered the country in good faith and convince ICE that the prospective husband is abusive, they get all the immigration benefits of marriage without having to deal with the loser who paid to get them in to the country.

The law (a section of VAWA) exists to help women who are lured into abusive situations (and the fact that it's necessary says something about a large portion of these kinds of "relationships") but when the laws are manipulated in this fashion, it hurts the, erm, buyer in more places than just the wallet. They end up on violent offender registries, lose their right to own guns, can't have certain jobs, etc.

I'm not arguing that this happens often, just that it (might've) happened few times.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2009

Here's one website from a group assisting people who found themselves in the situation I described. While the law is the "Violence against women act", men can and do apply under it as well. A google for VAWA scams or fraud will get you some tales. Again, I don't want to come across as a VAWA skeptic, I just found this wrinkle interesting.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:03 PM on January 13, 2009

This is art, not an answer, but you might like it.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:24 PM on January 13, 2009

No mention of Hans Reiser yet? A little variation there in that she wasn't a prospective bride but rather the interpreter for them.
posted by vsync at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2009

No mention of Hans Reiser yet?

See availablelight above.
posted by mlis at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2009

Considering the divorce rate is around 50% for people who are both:

- raised in the same country & culture
- have the same first (or close second) language
- have not had the financial and emotional stress of moving to another country
- have friends and family nearby (relatively)

yeah, I think piling on all the other stuff about misogyny, racism, social awkwardness, etc, might drive your chances of having a successful mail order marriage to about zero. I think it takes a lot of patience, mutual attraction, and genuine interest in each other's languages and cultures to make it work.

Is there a Russian expat group near where your friend is? Maybe he could get in touch with them and meet Russian expats in his area? See how they adapt, what they miss, what they like?
posted by Grrlscout at 11:18 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

RW Forum is an active forum site populated largely with Western men who are somewhere in the process of obtaining a Russian bride. You probably won't find hard statistics there, and accounts from the beginning of the process are more numerous than those from the bitter end, but you can get an idea of what sorts of people do this and what their relationships are like.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:17 AM on January 14, 2009

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