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Breaking Your Russia Wife In To America’s Consumer Society
One of the first problems that your fiancé will encounter will be shopping. In Russia, choice in products is usually limited. When she walks into a grocery store in America for the first time, it can be overwhelming.
How does she decide which brand of the sixteen types of toilet paper to buy?
I began by teaching my wife about ‘sale items’ or discounts and coupons. I taught her how to comparison shop. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how the prices are listed for the products.
As we began our shopping excursions, I also taught her about brand names and quality. As you know, you may not buy certain items even when they are on sale because their quality is perceptibly lower.
With some products, quality may not differ much or matter much, say with salt or sugar. With other products, quality may matter such as with laundry detergent or ice cream.
You must also show your wife about your preferences. And as she buys things and tries things, she will develop her own preferences.
I taught my wife about stocking up on meat, chicken, or fish when they are on sale. She knows now which cuts she likes and has mastered this technique.
We live in an area that is an agricultural produce center. We have excellent fruits and vegetables at very good prices. Your fiancé will have a much easier time with evaluating fruits and vegetables, because she is used to that from her home country.
However, she may not be familiar with some types of fruits and vegetables available here as they are not common in Russia. Avocados and artichokes for example.
My wife loves artichokes, but she is rather neutral about avocados. At any rate, get her maximum exposure to shopping and she will be a pro in about three to six months.
Most Russian women are natural shoppers. They are skilled at looking for bargains. One of the things I have had to teach my wife is that with big items you want a good price, but you want good quality first.
You first shop for quality, then try to get a good price for things you are going to have to live with for a while: televisions, cars, even clothing.
Fortunately, my wife now understands and agrees with my approach.
Russia is a cash economy. Your fiancé is unfamiliar with checks and credit cards. She may or may not understand about bank accounts. Those are things you will have to teach her.
One of the difficult things about bringing your wife to America is that you must teach her all the things that it took most people thirty years to learn and accomplish. She must learn these things in a matter of months or a few years.
We learned about shopping through trial and error. It took us years to get educated, learn to drive a car, get a checking account, buy a house, learn to pay bills, become familiar with insurance, cable television, cell phones, microwaves, and computers.
We know how to find our way around the local community on familiar roads, how to take public transportation, how to register for school, how to take books out of the public library, and function in our society.
Your fiancé has not had the benefit of living here for twenty or thirty years to learn these things over time. She must learn to live in America by taking an accelerated course.
Even household appliances like washers, driers, microwaves, and dishwashers are not common in Russia. Plus, in America, all the instructions are written in English! After a few months, she will be able to whiz around the house like she had been raised with these things.
You must get her a social security card. You must take her everywhere until she can learn to drive.
You must be patient with her while she learns English, while she learns her way around America’s consumer society, while she learns how to drive and finds a job.
After one to two years, you will be amazed at how well she excels at these things.
She is most likely highly educated and has a good profession in her home country. However, because of her limited English and because her credentials may not be valid in America, she may have to go back to school to find a career in America.
If you wish her to work right away, she can probably get the kind of job that most immigrants can get when they first come to America. She can clean houses, work in restaurants, day care, or any other jobs where English speaking ability is not a requirement.
One alternative if her English is limited is to try to find a place where other Russian-speaking people are employed.
You may want to enroll your wife in a local free school such as adult school or other community ESL program to improve her English when she gets here. Community colleges are the next step once her English has improved to a sufficient level.
Many Russian women are attractive and many retail establishments hire them for that reason. It’s also a good way for them to practice their English. However, your fiancé will need a certain minimum level of English to work with the public.
I advised my wife to pick a career path that she wanted to follow, and to go to school to educate herself in that career. It may take a few years until she is working, but she will be able to find a job where she will make a much higher income in the long run than if she continues to work at low paying jobs.
One idea is to find a niche for your wife teaching Russian at the local high school or community college. You can approach the administration of the school on her behalf and convince them to try it on an experimental basis. Of course, she will need a working knowledge of English in order to be able to communicate with the students.
Russian women are resourceful. They are usually highly educated and intelligent. They have developed tremendous survival skills that they learned in their own country.
Be patient and help her find her way. It will take a few years but she will find her niche and you will settle into a comfortable family life.
About the Author: John has been successfully married to a Belarussian wife for over five years. He has traveled extensively through Russia and other CIS countries. He will tell you why you should consider Russian women, how to meet them, how to bring your special woman home, and how to survive married life.