I met my wife in Russia. Our romance was something of a whirlwind romance. There are times when you just know something is right. You do not know why you do it - you just know you must. When we first started talking about building a family, my wife was very careful about saying a family was the most important thing for her. She was quick to point out that she wanted to build a family as quickly as possible. Now consider this scenario. Imagine we had gone ahead and had children. I am sure she would have been happy. I am sure I would have been happy. We would have lived our lives happily together taking care of our children and eventually seeing them of to marriage. At the age of about 50, we would have begun our lives together.
But that is not what happened. And the purpose of this contribution is to give my thoughts on why it did not. My wife is in her early twenties. The reason she left Russia is purely to be with me. I did not live in wealthy part of the world at the time, nor did I live in a wealthy part of a poor country. I just lived an average life. She came away to live our lives together, to grow together. I kept this in the back of my mind every time we spoke about building a family. As her husband, I knew it was my responsibility to do what was right for her. I always noticed the excitement and twinkle in her eye whenever she read new books and listened to my friends discuss a client case or business challenge. I believed she had the potential to be more than she thought she could. The first time I broached the subject of starting her own business, she shied away. I believed this was more because of a lack of self-confidence than a lack of ability. I spent much time teaching her about simple business principles and ideas – in a fun way. I used the example of American media and movies to explain the idea of branding and the work I do. I bought her a laptop and the tools to learn how to work in an office environment. I introduced her to people who were nice and successful at the careers. The next time I mentioned starting her own business, she tentatively accepted the idea – but waited for my response. I gave her all the support she could possibly need. I took time of from my busy schedule to help her plan her new business, I taught her the fundamentals of business and how it should be conducted.
The reason I choose this example is fairly simple. She comes from a country in which the men naturally dominate. Even if she had the potential and enthusiasm to do something new, she was looking for my support and encouragement. I gave her the basic skills to continue to grow as a person. By growing herself, she as matured our relationship and ultimately myself. It is something many men worry about. Will their wives turn into something they so dread? – The archetypical Americanized wife who will put her needs before your own. And I always have the same answer. Your wife will only become what she always was. Her principles will never change. They will merely manifest themselves in new ways. If she believes in loving her husband, she will do this no matter what happens or where she goes. To answer the questions above – your Russian wife is in a new country and relying on you to be her guide, friend, teacher, confidant and husband. Your actions will ultimately determine the way you act Remember, like any women with the dream of a fairytale romance (and this would be all women) she will do anything to show her love. If you show her love, respect, care, sacrifice and forgiveness, she will reciprocate these actions. You need to understand the responsibility you have. Your actions will be used as a reference for her actions. You have the choice to make this into a fairytale romance.
As I write my thoughts, I am sitting in my lounge and out of the corner of my eye I watch a movie starring Uma Thurman. I am in baby blue pajama pant and white shirt. I cannot really say I want to watch Uma (I prefer documentaries Uma), nor do I want to sit in a baby blue pajama pant. But I do it for her. Only for her would I sacrifice my ritual Saturday dinner at Browns and wind down the Saturday evening with a romance movie on a perfect night for a walk.
The dress is of course part of the package. We did not know it at the time, but the discussions about what I should wear are part and parcel of the negotiations which marriage counselors call “c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e”. I am not sure how I got to wear this “interesting” ensemble, but I do know that I must have enjoyed it because here I am. But that is part of our relationship. It is based on absolute trust. I give my views when I think I have something useful to say but otherwise I just go with the flow. People who have worked with me may of course find this hard to believe, but it is true. Now imagine me doing any of this at the early stages of our relationship. It is an image that not even my creative mind can conjure. I am of course the same man who used to travel to holiday destinations in an Armani suit and laptop. Just in case a business idea reared its beautiful head. But those days are over.
Whether any of us will ever admit it, we all lie just a little bit during the courtship phase. It is normal and perfectly acceptable as long as it is not too big a lie. Even if it is small thing like matching her taste in ice cream and saying I like strawberry ice cream, it is still something, which will follow us into the relationship. All these little fibs and the truth blend into to create a personality, which is taken into your new relationship. As the relationship matures and your comfort for each other’s presence increases, the role-playing will diminish and you will be happy in just be you in front of her.
This is where the challenging part of a Russian-Western relationship comes into play. If your Russian wife is typical, then she will most probably be intelligent, degreed and most probably beautiful. Very few if any of these women are just looking to settle down and have children. Yes of course they want children and a family, but they want more. As your relationship becomes more settled and comfortable, your wife will start to explore the idea of working or maybe starting her own business. This may be done in a variety of ways. Maybe she will talk about a Russian friend she knows who as been very successful at managing both. In her own special way she will explore the idea. If you immediately block the idea, she will end all discussion about it. She will be careful not to damage the happiness she now has. Even though she does not talk about it, this does not mean she is not thinking about it. She will have dreams, hopes, aspirations and ideals, which she will want to fulfill. The hope will build within her.
During this time, she will still be the loving wife she wants to be, and you want her to be. She will care for you and the children. She will be the most perfect wife you can possibly imagine. This is the part where I stopped writing about my life and started giving generic advice. I think it is time I end my personal story. By giving my wife all the support she needed, she had grown into a wife who is more than just a “wife”. She has always lived her life by the right principles. I could easily see it in the way she acts, talks, thinks and lives her life. I knew, even before she knew it, that if given the freedom to be everything she could, she would bring something into our lives I could not. Yes, I advise high profile business leaders and people. But I do not know everything. By giving her the freedom to truly grow, she brought vitality back into our relationship. She as made me feel happy. I now joyously wait to wake up in the morning and tackle another day at Anna Reddy®. We have both moved to working from 7am to 1am. But we are never tired, nor stressed from the experience. The experience of finding herself as actually made our marriage work better. We have grown together and moved our relationship to another level. She now knows I am comfortable with who she is, and she is not afraid to pursue her dreams and goals. She knows I will support her, and I know she will always be my wife in name and heart.
Many men reading this article will probably ask – what does this mean for me? This young, intelligent, beautiful woman married you and moved thousands of kilometers away to be with you. Do not make the mistake of thinking she wants to marry you. She wants to do more than that –she wants to develop and relationship and life with you. By showing her trust, sincerity and respect, you will empower her to contribute more to the relationship. She will love you and respect you more for this. She wants to love you, she wants the whole world to know, give her the chance to do so.
The fundamental of a successful Russian-Western marriage is simple. Give your wife the same things you want from her. There is no complex, checklist to go through. Everyone writing to me expects the advice to be different. Yes your Russian wife is different, but the principles of a successful relationship are the same. If you want something from the relationship, show it is possible by living the principle. A relationship in which a Russian wife is comfortable, is a successful relationship because it gives her an opportunity to make the marriage work in her own special way. A way that only a loving wife can make possible.