Michael & Victoria
Please let me introduce my self my name is Michael I live in central California I am 49 and I have been married to the most wonderful Russian Lady now for the past 3 years. Like most men I know I was tired of the me, me, me attitude and selfishness of women here in the states and the general poor attitude towards men most American women have, I hoped I could find something better possibly overseas. I began my search over 4 years ago looking over the various agencies on the internet and reading everything possible, what I found sounded like it was the answer to my dreams but was it true? After spending 6 months looking, researching and dreaming I finally worked up the courage to write a letter which I could send out introducing myself to some of these very lovely ladies. I found a translator and had my letter translated into Russian an of course each letter was “personalized” for each lady. I initially sent out over 50 letters and to my great surprise over the next 6 weeks I received over 35 replies all of them in Russian, luckily the person who was doing the translating for me was fast, accurate and the cost was quite reasonable.
I will admit that I corresponded with more Ladies from Russia and the Ukraine than I really should have, over the ensuing year I traveled extensively traveling from Odessa, Kiev and Khearson in the Ukraine to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Orenburg, Perm and east deep into Siberia, meeting with 23 different Ladies. With Victoria (my wife) we first met in the Bahamas for two weeks, then I went to Russia for two weeks, then we went again to the Bahamas for another three weeks because at that time no Visa was required for a Russian to enter the country. Then spent two weeks together in Paris and again I went to Russia to spend another two weeks with Victoria and finally we spent two weeks again in the Bahamas before all was said and done. In between all of this I was also writing, calling and meeting with other Ladies in various parts of Russia and the Ukraine. Now I understand that most people do not have the ability to have the time off or the funds to do what I did but non-the-less you can develop a good working relationship by post, telephone and e-mail enough to decide if you would like to meet each other.
Victoria’s arrival and first 6 months in the U.S.
Perhaps I should start by saying that Victoria was not born in Russia but in Tajikistan to Russian parents and like so many others after the break up of the Soviet Union her family and friends who were not ethnically “pure” were forced to give up their homes and most of their possessions. They were then escorted out of the country by armed military personal, I bring this up because this kind of bloodless ethnic cleansing was and to some extent is still common.
I arrived in Moscow about a week before Victoria’s interview at the U.S. consulate, she was as always waiting for me at the airport as beautiful as ever and very excited to see me. We spent the night at the best hotel in Moscow then it was off the next afternoon to her town by train, a 12-hour over night ordeal. Her family was waiting for us at the train station and there was going to be a big going away party the next day with as many friends and relatives that could come. I had no idea so many people could fit into such a small apartment, Victoria was the guest of honor so I did my best to stay out of the way besides I could only catch 1 word in 20 if I was lucky, still she looked like a million dollars and did her best to see that I did not feel totally forgotten. I was introduced to Uh! everyone, who they all were I have no idea but they all wanted to meet me and see for themselves who was taking their Victoria away, then they went back talking to Victoria ignoring me for the most part (which was ok with me). The party went on well into the night, there was food and drink everywhere, I brought 2 lbs of Ethel M Liqueur chocolates, a Hickory Farms sampler and a 1 lb JellyBelly sampler which went over very well with everyone. We rested the day after the party before heading back to Moscow for Victoria’s interview and yes another long 12-hour train ride but this time with several of Victoria’s family along. This is when things started getting emotional, saying good-bye at the train station to those who could not come to Moscow, it seemed like everyone cried.
The interview at the consulate was very simple, I had brought over 50 photographs, telephone records, airline and hotel receipts as well as a number of our letters. The lady who interviewed Victoria was very polite and only asked a few simple questions after looking over the documents I brought, I also believe that my being with Victoria helped considerably, if nothing else it made Victoria feel much better. The consulate took Victoria’s passport and told us to return later that afternoon when her K1 visa would be ready.
Victoria’s arrived in New York and we sailed through immigration without any problems but we were on a tight connection to San Francisco so there was not much time to do anything but get to our next flight. We arrived into San Francisco 17 hours after leaving Moscow at 9:30 in the evening so as you can imagine we were both a little tired and we still had over and hours drive to my (our) house. Victoria slept quite a bit for the next few days, the time change really affected her (it is after all an 11 hour difference between California and Moscow), plus the stress of the trip and saying goodbye to her family and friends (lots and lots of tears). The fun began when I was in the kitchen cutting up some apples for us and putting the cores down the garbage disposal, Victoria tried to stop me saying I was going to plug up the sink. Now with my limited knowledge of Russian and her limited knowledge of English how was I going to explain this to her? Back to the every handy English/Russian dictionary and look up the word “sink” then “teeth” and point to the disposal, I put one of the apple cores down it while the disposal was running, she then looked quite surprised at what I was showing her. This was only one of many of the “adventures” we were to share together, like teaching Victoria how to use the washing machine, you know sorting the clothes, using the right cycle and temperatures not to mention what should NOT go into the dryer. To say the least many mistakes were made and she felt very bad calling herself stupid for turning my underwear every color but white and shrinking some of our clothes to doll sizes. Then came the shopping experience, the Safeway super store was a bit overwhelming at first with the large selection of well everything and of course Victoria did not know brand “A” from brand “B” or even what half the things on the shelf were, she felt completely lost. Victoria was also totally dependent on me for well just about everything, she did not know how to drive a car which is still very common in Russia today and she felt very self conscious about speaking with anyone because of her limited knowledge of English.
Every weekend for the first few months we were off to somewhere different, I spent more time in San Francisco in those first months than I had in the previous 10 years but she was enjoying herself buying post cards from everyplace we went sending them to all of her family and friends. During the week while I was away at work I know she was very board, TV is not all that interesting if you can not understand what is being said, with a little research I found out that the Dish Network has 2 Russian channels NTV and NTV+, so I had the satellite system installed, while not the answer to Victoria’s boredom it sure helped. At around the middle of our second month together we made plans to head off to Hawaii where we would be married, we worked together making the arrangements mostly over the Internet and by telephone, this was really a lot of fun and helped bring us even closer together. We spent just 3 days Oahu (which was long enough for both of us) before heading over to the big island and the Kona coast. We had a beautiful wedding right on the beach at sunset, the minister, photographer well everything was great, we had a wonderful dinner by torch light in a very quiet setting and spent the next 10 days on the beach, roaming around the island and enjoying our honeymoon.
Once back home we headed to the INS district office in order to have Victoria’s status changed, this went off pretty well all things considered but with typical government efficiency we arrived at the INS office at 8am and were finished right at 5pm. Oh well what can you do! Victoria’s English was improving dramatically but she was still very self conscious about her limited knowledge and accent, I tried to tell her that no one in America really cares but this was lost in the cultural differences. You see in most of the former Soviet Union (and Europe for that matter) anything that distinguishes you from the locals like an accent means you will be treated like an outsider so when we were out Victoria tended to be quite and reserved. Everything went smoothly with the INS but as usual with most government agencies it was hurry up and wait, still it was nice to get the change of status out of the way. We got Victoria a work authorization card even though she was not interested in working more for identification than anything else so she would not have to carry her passport around all of the time.
Life went of as normal and with a great deal of patience from both of us Victoria’s English improved enough for her to take the drivers license written test to get her learners permit. Now the fun really began, teaching her how to drive without getting into a wreck or becoming a wreck myself. If you do not have the patience of Jobe do not attempt to teach your bride to drive, have someone else do it. Victoria did pretty well considering she had never before been behind the wheel of a car, of course we went someplace very remote and flat with nothing to run into for a mile in every direction. After a few days of this it was onto the country roads, bad move I forgot those two lane roads have a high crown and deep ditches on either side, thought I was going to have a heart attack before she got the hang of it. Well we survived that mistake (only went half way into the ditch twice but at least we did not get stuck), so it was time to brave the local streets. This was not as bad as I thought, Victoria did pretty well all things considered, we did not run any red lights or hit any parked cars and she was getting the hang of judging the distances and the feel of the road. Pretty soon I took her on the freeways which was very scary for her with so many big trucks all around, still I knew she would need to learn so I insisted she drive as much as possible at least until she got tired. Which brings me to the wreck, yes she wrecked my full size Bronco to the tune of $6,552.00 dollars, she was parking and confused the gas with the break hitting a sizeable tree. To say she felt bad was an understatement (I think she cried for two days) and it took me several weeks to get her to drive again but at least I knew she would not make that mistake again. Eventually Victoria passed her drivers test so it was time to get her a car, now this is where dreams meet reality, she thought she wanted a sports car a Ford Mustang GT Convertible. Well one test drive shot a hole in that dream, it was a bit too much car for her to handle so I had her try a Chrysler Sebring Convertible which she fell in love with. As usual Victoria let me handle all of the arrangements for the car and off she went in her new ride, not that she had that many places to go but she was very happy, it was after all her first car (you remember that don’t you?).
For the men who are interested in a lady 15 to 20 years younger than yourself (Victoria is 18 years younger than I am) I noticed that for the first 6 months or so Victoria was quite concerned that I try to look and dress well a bit younger. I did not pay too much attention to this at first but on several occasions people had mistaken Victoria for my daughter and though she did not say anything I could see it was upsetting her. There was not much I could do about this and eventually she worked herself through it, I bring this up because you need to remember to be sensitive to your bride’s feelings much more than you might normally pay attention to such things. Because most of the girls do not have a good knowledge of English they might not be able to express to you something that is bothering them or feel that you would not understand, so a word to the wise pay attention to your bride and work with her to overcome some of the difficulties by talking things over with her.
To wrap up a rather long story I have been and I am very happy with Victoria, she is everything I could ask for in a lady I know I will be happy with for many years to come. Yes we have had our problems some caused by her homesickness, some by cultural differences and some by me but in the end it all comes down to the two of us wanting to make our relationship work and work well. I have been asked many times by ladies I work with “Why did I go to Russia for a wife?” when I try to explain some of the differences they shake their heads in utter disbelief and go away confused, I am sure thinking I am quite mad. When men I know and work with asked me about Victoria they are interested and curious, when they meet my bride they are amazed and want to learn more about one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War; The depth and warmth of a Traditional Russian Lady.
I would be very happy to help if you have any questions, I have written quite a lot about how to write, meet, get to know and live with a Russian Lady.