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Married Ten Years
A true-life story of USA male married to a woman 19 years younger than himself

Many American men write to Russian women, and some of them get married. But what percentage of the marriages survive and thrive? All I know is that my own marriage to a Russian bride is still going very strong after ten years.


In 1991, I saw several newspaper and TV reports about agencies and services which specialized in Russian brides for American men. I was 44 years old, and had never been married. The idea of a Russian bride had tremendous appeal to me, for the following reasons:

1. Although I had dated way back in high school because it was socially necessary, in general I hate "dating"--the whole awkward social process of asking someone out, going somewhere, making continuous conversation, etc. Even calling a woman on a phone was very uncomfortable for me, because I am a quiet, shy person, and there would always be uncomfortable telephone silences. Conducting a romance by letter was far more appealing, because a letter could be written gradually over a week's time. I loved the idea of being married. But it's like marriage is a castle surrounded by a forest of dating thorns. I wanted to get inside the marriage castle without having to fight my way through the thorns. I never thought I would find a simple way to do that, yet here was a way!

2. Although I have a successful career, I had very low self-esteem when it comes to women. In the past, whenever a woman was interested in me, I would think, "What kind of woman would be interested in a guy like me?" But with a Russian woman the situation would be different. Because I would not only be offering her myself, I would also be offering her America and all it's advantages and opportunities. So she's not just choosing me, she's choosing the package deal of me and my country.

3. I instinctively knew that because she was from a different culture I would be far more lenient with her, far less likely to be upset with her behavior and opinions, than with an American woman. I would make an extra effort to ensure our compatibility despite our differences.

4. Most Americans tend to take our country's standard of living for granted. A Russian woman would be much more appreciative of the standard of living here, and my average salary would not seem so inadequate to her as it might to an American woman.

5. All my life I have fantasized about being a hero, but in real life I'm just an ordinary guy. The idea of marrying a Russian woman does have heroic aspects, as though I would be riding in on a white horse, sweeping her up, and rescuing her from a bad situation, taking her to where she will be much better off. It would make me feel like a hero.

6. At the age of 44, I thought the ideal age for my wife would be between in her twenties. Such marriages (with the man 20 years older than the woman) are not very common in America, unless the man is famous or wealthy. But with the bad economic situation in Russia, it should be indeed possible to find a wife much younger than myself.

7. Having a bride come from the other side of the world is a very exotic, romantic, adventurous idea.

8. We both would be making an extra effort to make the marriage succeed. She would know that if the marriage failed she might have to return to Russia. So if she was upset with me about something, she would be less likely to say "I'm outta here!" And on my part, I would feel totally responsible for her--I would not just be her husband, I would also be her guardian, her guide, her best friend (indeed, her only friend for quite a while).

The Selection

So I sent for information from the largest agency, ordered a bunch of booklets, and I wrote letters to 14 women. The letters I sent were identical (except for a personalized paragraph at the end). This was a very long letter, in which I "poured out my heart", explaining in great detail my personal, economic and professional situation, and the kind of woman I was seeking. (Non-smoking, educated, who could speak and write at least a little English. I made it very clear that I did not want to have children.)

I received replies from three women. One of the letters I received was fantastic, the kind of letter I had always dreamed about receiving. Deanna* was beautiful, educated, and 26 years old. I knew immediately, that this was the woman I wanted to marry. (Fortunately, this was back in the days before there were so many "scam artists" around. That letter she wrote me would be a perfect hook for a scam artist. She later told me that she had received quite a few letters, but it was my lengthy first letter to her which had immediately made me her top choice.)

I wrote back to her, asking her to marry me, and rather than wait until I received a reply to each letter, I continued to write weekly.

Meanwhile, I did some research, and I contacted an immigration attorney (L. Holmes) who was recommended by the agency. I learned that I would have to go to Russia and meet with her before she could enter the USA for marriage. I booked a flight to Moscow, and the immigration attorney made arrangements so that I would be living in a private apartment for two weeks, would have a car and driver assigned to me (so I would never have to take a taxi), and I would also have my own personal translator/tour guide. Once I made firm plans, my fiancee (I considered myself to be engaged already, even though we had not met) was contacted and she agreed to come to Moscow and spend the two weeks with me. (Her home town was Saratov.)

That two weeks in Moscow with her was the greatest (and most romantic) adventure of my life. Her knowledge of English was limited to about 2000 words, but we had no difficulty communicating when we were alone, and we had the translator when we went places together. When my stay in Moscow ended, we were both certain that we were doing the right thing and we were determined to proceed with our marriage plans.

After I returned to the USA, I prepared the paperwork for the immigration attorney to file. It took about 6 months for the paperwork to be processed and the Fiancee Visa to be issued; during that time we corresponded regularly. I began using an e-mail forwarding service, so that she would receive my letters more quickly. And she continued taking English lessons during that time.

The Marriage

She arrived here in late Summer of 1992, and we were married within a week of her arrival; we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon, where hurricane Iniki provided some additional excitement.

For the next two years she took courses at a local university, greatly improving her language skills, then she went to work in an office job. Soon after she began work, we moved from our apartment and bought a nice house, where we still live with our two cats. Of course, she is now an American citizen.

Once a year she goes back to visit her parents in Russia, spending 2 to 4 weeks there. (As she is an "only child", she is very important to her parents. At our very first meeting, she wanted to know how often she could go back and visit them, and I promised her that she could make a yearly visit.) Five years ago, I accompanied her on one trip, and I met her parents for the first time. Her parents have no desire to come to the U.S.

How is the marriage? From my perspective, she is a wonderful wife. Affectionate, playful, considerate, intelligent, cute-as-a-button, with a great sense of humor and a melodious laugh. (Her laugh is my favorite sound in the world.) She has kept her trim figure, and she exercises several times a week. We have never had a real argument, or even yelled at each other. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found her. She says I am a wonderful husband (which I can understand, considering the way her parents yell at each other). Of course we each have our little faults, but they don't really matter. Before getting married I had lived alone for over two decades, yet I found the transition to married life was very smooth. Her transition to life in America was also smooth; there was a minimum of "culture shock", although it was a few years before she drove a car. Being married to a woman 19 years younger than I am certainly makes me feel much younger than my current 55 years. It's been a very good ten years of marriage, and there are no storm clouds on the horizon.

The Cost

The start-up cost of our marriage was about $20,000, which I had planned in advance. This includes the cost of my initial two-week trip to Moscow, the fees of the immigration attorney, her airfare to the USA, the cost of the wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii, some new furniture and household items for her, and her initial wardrobe expenses. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but it really was a great bargain, in terms of the happiness it has brought me during the years that followed.

Recommendations and Advice

If you are a lonely American man who would like to get married, you should give serious consideration toward seeking a Russian bride. Physical attraction is important, but don't simply look for the youngest and most attractive women. The ultimate issue the matter of compatibility; it doesn't matter how gorgeous she is, if you are not compatible or if she is constantly nagging you. I think the "prime age" for a Russian bride is 25-30, because at that age they will probably feel desperate about being unmarried, and are therefore less likely to reject you. And women at that age should be more mature and more responsible than younger women. Also, I recommend finding a woman that meets the following criteria (all of which were true in my situation):

1. You want her to be currently employed, so that she has a work ethic and will be less likely to simply try to freeload off of you.

2. You want her to be educated, with a college or university degree. (If you want a woman to primarily just be a housewife and mother to your children, then you may do fine with a woman who has less education. But I think more education is always better, because educated women are probably able to adapt better to changing circumstances. And if she goes to work, an educated woman should earn a better salary.)

3. You want her to already know some English. It is very difficult for an adult to learn a new language, and if she is serious about wanting to come to America, she should have begun taking English lessons.

In your first letter, enclose a photo of yourself, but don't just send a snapshot, have a portrait photo taken at someplace like K-Mart.

When you write to her, number your letters consecutively, and keep copies of them. That way, she can tell if any letters were lost in the mail, and you can resend them.

When writing, always keep in mind that it may be necessary to show your correspondence to Immigration, as proof of your serious relationship. So keep your letters clean.

Set a rough timetable for yourself. For example: Month #1, get addresses of women you might be interested in, and send your initial letters. Month #4, select the woman you want to meet, based on your correspondence. Month #5, meet her in Russia. If all goes well, and you agree to marry, have an experienced immigration attorney file the application for Fiancee Visa upon your return.

I do not recommend matchmaking tours as a way to find a bride, but that's just my instinct. I think correspondence is a much better way to go. I also feel that, in general, the sophisticated women of Moscow and St. Petersburg should be avoided, in favor of the women from the Russian regional cities.

You should NOT get a Russian bride if you are very stubborn and always insist on doing things your own way, frequently use profanity, or have no manners.

Anyway, my quest for a Russian bride was successful, and our marriage has survived the test of time. May your searches be equally successful. Good luck!


*The names have been changed to protect the identities


Russian women are real treasures, and I found mine
"After visiting with her, I realized that she was not in any need of any material items. Her family has own business, and live very good. She just had this desire that we as all humans have inside of us, to love and to be loved in return. In fact, if she had her way, we would probably be living in Russia right now..." 
Read a story of Nick and Julia

I came to realize that wishes indeed come true
A story of Tom and Taya

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