Page 12 Chapter 11:
The Misterious Russian Soul And Character
If you are lucky enough to meet a real traditional Russian woman and marry her, then you will find out very soon how her character and inner world differs from all the women you know before. First of all, you will be impressed by her femininity, unselfishness, and desire to devote all her life to you and the family. Having typically received very little care and attention from Russian men, a Russian women will eagerly throw herself into her role as a homemaker, wife, and mother when treated with loving care by her western husband.
Almost all Americans married to traditional Russian women complain only about one thing — the wonderful cooking talents of their wives, who “stuff them to the gills.” Russian food is very tasty, but very high in calories and fat. Just for comparison, a Russian meal can consist of as much as 3000 calories. Try tactfully to explain to your Russian wife the differences in the traditions of cooking and eating between Russia and America from the very beginning.
Also, if you invite relatives and guests over, your Russian wife will undoubtedly try to serve a traditional Russian table for them full of various dishes. I’ve already written about the hospitality of the Russians. It’s unthinkable for a Russian woman to treat guests only to Coca-Cola and salted nuts. All the best that is in the house will be offered for them.
Russian women usually reject the idea of having maids in their homes. Even if with the best intentions you offer to hire a maid, or other domestic help, she will think that you consider her a bad housekeeper, not able to cope with the house work herself. Besides, the moral unacceptability of using hired labor is highly developed in many traditional women. If you still think it is necessary to hire help, be patient and use logic to convince your wife of the practical reason or reasons for such a decision.
If you marry a traditional Russian woman, then it is possible that her education will be better than even your own. Doubtless, she will be very well-read. She was raised on the masterpieces of Russian classical literature since childhood. She studied Dostoevskiy and Tolstoy in elementary and middle schools and the classics of foreign literature in the senior grades.
Russian women are used to a very refined Russian poetry, and they understand it very well. So be careful and selective if you devote your own poems or other literary works to her! It is also very likely that your Russian wife will understand art and music very well. Even if she can’t play any musical instruments, she has good taste in music and a deep understanding of the beautiful aspects of culture and the arts.
American “pop-culture,” including “soap operas” and Hollywood movies, will likely attract her attention initially. But she will soon tired of it. Her richly-developed inner world will need real food, not junk food, which has no nutritional value. Good books will help appease her spiritual hunger. There are many stores throughout America that sell Russian books. You can find them on the Internet and order books for your wife. You can also get videos of ballets, operas music and movies. These will more likely make her happy than mid-day television entertainment.
And if you have any space to have a garden by your house or condo, then your Russian wife will probably be thrilled to be able to grow flowers and vegetables there. Her “green thumbs” will pleasantly surprise you.
Raised on European culture, Russian women, as a rule, have wonderful tastes. For the longest time, Western propaganda portrayed Russian women as large, hulking bears with kerchief-wrapped heads and felt boots. Yes, under the influence of the unrelenting hard conditions of life, and because of a lack of all the necessary things, many older Russian women can develop some rather hard countenances.
They are content with the smallest comforts and absolutely forget about themselves. As they say in Russia, they “put a cross” on themselves. However, young Russian women understand European fashion very well and typically dress with taste and elegance.
After arriving in the U.S., all of them, with almost no exception, are shocked by how most Americans dress. They don’t understand how it is possible to walk into a store barefoot or without a shirt, or wear a formless T-shirt and shorts, a striped skirt with a dotted blouse, and so on. Few traditional Russian women enjoy wearing shorts, jeans, and sneakers. Most of them prefer an elegant feminine style and high-heel shoes.
But be warned. The good taste of the Russians is lacking when it comes to makeup and hairstyles. Russian women often use a minimum of makeup, and some of them prefer to go without any at all. Those who use cosmetics often do so clumsily — too bright and too much. The lack of good hairdressers and the expense even when one is found have affected Russians’ hairstyles.
Most of them don’t know how to look after their hair and how to choose a style that complements them. A consultation with a specialist in a beauty parlor may provide a wonderful lesson for your Russian wife and will teach her how to use cosmetics and how to look after her hair.
One more painful matter: the condition of the teeth of Russians can sometimes be less than optimal, especially with older women. The wrong food and the lack of qualified dental services lead to Russians often having tooth problems. Maybe this is why Russian women seldom smile. Take care of getting dental insurance for your Russian wife in advance. It will be very useful.
Traditional Russian women are very intuitive. They can read the feelings and the thoughts of others through gut feelings and the knowledge of “body language.” During Russian history, including the epoch of communism, Russian people were taught not to show their emotions. They were taught to manage their own feelings and to keep them under control. Traditional Russian women think it indecent to shout, to squeal, to create hysterics, to break dishes, or to use foul language. They consider such behavior to be very bad manners and evidence of bad upbringing.
You can offend your Russian wife by a sharp tone of voice or by using foul language in her presence. You can understandably insult her if you point out her financial dependence on you or the fact that you “made her happy” by taking her away from the poor conditions in Russia. Many Russian women are known for their sensitivities. They may cry if you yell at them or use rude or harsh words or tones. Fortunately, they are forgiving, and famous for their patience. They usually move their sensitivity inside themselves, and try not to show their worries and pain.
But the patience of the Russians is not endless. I want you to pay special attention to this: The hidden negative emotions and the insulated feelings accumulate. You cannot treat your wife with disrespect time and again and expect no consequences. When the level of emotions reaches a critical point, an explosion can take place. Sometimes it is a real explosion that will leave you with no question that you’ve pushed too far.
But, it more often happens quietly, and might not even be noticed. You may ignore the quiet tears of your wife for many years and not pay attention to the fact that your behavior brings her pain and humiliation. You may decide that her patience and love is boundless. But if you do, you will certainly wake up one day to the realization that you’ve lost her forever.
She will close her heart and soul to you and won’t allow you to hurt her any further. Even if she doesn’t leave you she will become a stranger to you. And you won’t be able to get her back. If you can’t control your emotions and language, then probably a marriage with a Russian wife is not the best choice for you or for her.
No matter how sensitive Russian women are, they possess a strong character and will. She can and will leave you if you constantly offend her either physically or emotionally. But on the other hand, she will never leave you if you are in trouble. Even if you were wrong and cruel to her, she will stay with you in the hardest period of your life if she feels that you need her help and support. Her devotion and fidelity to her husband and family is legendary.
A Russian woman feels a special interest in a man who came through a hard life and who suffered a lot. A successful person who doesn’t know any pain and deprivation causes suspicions in her. Traditionally, an absolutely successful person can be associated with spiritual emptiness and selfishness in the Russian consciousness. If you want a Russian woman to become interested in you, don’t try to speak only about your success. Show her that you know how the heart aches and that you’ve lived through rough times in life.
“Excessive” financial and personal well-being can even scare a traditional Russian woman. Subconsciously, she is choosing a man with whom her life won’t be always easy and will demand some self-sacrifice and suffering on her part. Probably in Western psychology it is called “victim behavior” or low self-esteem. But for Russians, it has deep spiritual roots.
Russia is rich with the names of the people who voluntary refused the earth’s well-being and doomed themselves to suffering for the sake of some idea. There are countless examples in all walks of life: Christian-hermits, writers, and philosophers. Count Leo Tolstoy, the author of War and Peace, rejected his privileged position and wealth and chose the life of a mere peasant.
Under communism, the Soviets planned nearly everything for their citizens. Now that the people are free, it is still just about impossible to plan anything very well considering the present instabilities of life. So be aware that Russians don’t have any experience in planning their lives, or even their own day-to-day budgets. Be patient. It will take time to explain to your Russian wife the basics of budgeting, banking, the credit system, and so on. You will especially need much patience in explaining to your wife the issue of insurance in case of disability and death. Russians do not want even like to think about such things.
Material dreams and plans are boring and shallow to a woman of traditional Russian character. If you tell your Russian wife that you dream of working 12 hours a day to be able to retire at 40, or that your dream is to pay the mortgage off on the house in 15 years rather than in 30, she can grow visibly bored. In general, the Russian character is much more romantic and dreamy than the American one. This is probably due to the fact that reality in Russia has never been sweet; people understand that they will not likely reach their desired happiness in real life. So, they escape in dreams.
The Russian people are not spoiled with well-being. They treasure the things that are free in life and cannot be bought — friendship, love, and spirituality. If you ask what a traditional Russian woman is dreaming about, she will certainly tell you love and a happy family life. And it won’t even come into her head to dream that her man should have a big house in a prestigious neighborhood, a flashy car, and a high social position.
Give her a choice between two men — one wealthy but devoid of spirit, one poor but possessing all the best human qualities — she will choose the second without hesitation. Probably this reveals some impracticality and idealism of Russians. But, what can be more valuable than a pure human heart and soul?
Russians possess a great sense of curiosity. Life in other countries and other cultures interest them immensely. They treat people of other nationalities with great respect. Russians have always honored and loved foreigners. Most Russians are cosmopolitan, treating their own country and government very critically. They love nothing more than being able to interact with people of other cultures and share ideas.
What would you do if you happened to come into extra money? Would you put it in the bank, buy stocks, put it away into a pension fund? Whatever you choose, most likely your reply would be practical and reasonable. But 99 of 100 traditional Russian women would reply to the same question that they would go traveling, most likely to Europe, to Paris. Traveling is one of the most secret passions of Russians. Very few of them ever get such an opportunity, but they all dream about it.
In the days of the USSR, only select people used to be able to travel abroad due to the iron curtain. The majority of the population had to content themselves with traveling within the country. But as the USSR was a huge nation incorporating many cultures, nationalities, and histories, traveling even around the country was a captivating experience. Ironically, now that the borders of Russia have opened, the greater part of the population can’t afford to travel. Given a chance, Russians would sacrifice just about everything to be able to see the world with their own eyes.
Westerners often imagine the Russians as closed, unsmiling, and cold. Although an open expression of emotions is considered bad manners in Russia, the Russian character is known for its passion. It seems that the Russians can’t do anything halfway. If they have fun, they do it furiously. If they drink, they get dead drunk. If they are friends, they are friends for life. If they love, they love like their heads and hearts are caught in a maelstrom.
The national character often finds an expression in folk dances and songs. Look at the incendiary Russian dances — they reflect a real Russian temperament — bold, indefatigable, and coming from the heart. Compare this with the distinct individualism found in so many Americans. They surround themselves with an invisible wall and don’t allow even the closest people in their lives to pass through it.
Even in family relations and close friendships, Americans, as a rule, leave themselves some extra privacy. Russians can’t do the same. There is not even a word in the Russian language for “privacy.” Their hearts and souls are opened wide. And very often they suffer because of their openness and naivete. They use an expression that at such moments their soul turns into a “a live wound.”
It is a very accurate description, as it is very easy to wound the Russian soul because of its accessibility and sensitivity. A relationship with a traditional Russian woman will require an investment of emotions and feelings, and a large amount of respect. Be certain that you are up to the task before you decide to marry a Russian woman.