Until recently, Russian women were culturally similar to other Slavic ladies (Ukrainian, Belarusian etc.). However, in the past few years “traditional family values” are being promoted in Russia much heavier, which altered the attitudes of women towards an even stronger cult of family and love.
With the rest of the world embracing rainbow marriages and feminism, Russian policymakers’ official views are indisputably leaning towards long-established Christian Biblical values seeing the man as the head of a family, leading his wife and kids to prosperity and honourable life.
(Don’t ask me, how it all goes along with the infamous Russian men’s drinking and cheating in marriages. I guess it comes from the idea of a man being inherently fallible and continuously having to fight his own demons, and the woman being forgiving and patient, standing by her man no matter what. Divorcing a spouse because he cheated on you would be seen as ultimately bizarre in Russia, since it’s widely accepted that every man does it — it would be like divorcing a husband because he snores. So what?)
Russian girls are taught to seek fulfilment as a wife and a mother from an early age
The constant message from school books to commercials on TV and stories in media is that a woman can only find personal happiness as a mother and a wife. Whatever other pleasures in life are out there, they are depicted as inferior to the contentment of motherhood and marriage.
Young Russian women are so firmly indoctrinated in this cultural paradigm that no facts could shatter it. Their beliefs are so powerful that any factual data that contradicts this view would be dismissed with the outlook, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”
Older Russian women are wiser, having first-hand experiences of failing marriages and hard realities of life as a single mother in a society that perceives an unmarried female as deficient. They realize that marriage and kids are not a panacea for happiness — you need the right partner for that.
Russian policies towards strengthening family values
The present Russian administration is encouraging families to have minimum 3 children, in the face of the country’s declining and aging population. However, many Russian families still have only 1 child (the average number is 1.6 births per woman, see Fertility rates in World Data Bank).
Still, the total ratios of 86 men to 100 women in Russia make it problematic for every woman to find a partner for marriage. This may be the reason why divorced women with children struggle to re-partner, while men have no problem entering another relationship, with so many unattached females seeking a commitment-oriented male.
The new flag of “straight people” (as opposed to gays and lesbians) incorporates a woman, a man, and 3 children. Alexey Lisovenko from the ruling party United Russia said about the launch of the “flag of naturals”, “It is our response to the same-sex marriages, this mockery of the concept of family. We have to avert the gay fever at our home country and support traditional values.” The new flag of a “Real family” bears uncanny resemblance to the banners of the anti-gay French group “La Manif Pour Tous”, pictures of which surfaced immediately after the largely promoted launch, although accusations in copying have been vehemently denied by Russian officials. The new flag was launched on 8 July 2015 in Moscow during the celebrations of the Day of Family, Love, and Faithfulness.
“Christian family values” and quotes from Bible are involved in predominantly every discussion of a new policy on the legislative level. In a way, since it’s hard for people to find fulfilment in their careers (jobs pay very little) or hobbies (which are expensive), the promotion of fulfilment in a family perfectly fits into the actual life experience of Russian women. Once she is married, she can stop fighting for everyday survival (it’s not a metaphor, unfortunately, but a harsh reality of Russian existence), and leave it to the husband, who is officially a provider by the cultural standards.
This is why a Russian woman believes that her duty in a marriage is only supporting her partner, and there is no need for her to contribute herself. Making a contribution could be disrespectful to her husband, not allowing him to feel like a real man.
While most Russian women work before marriage, it’s a matter of honour for a man to have a wife who stays at home. For the most households, it’s an unachievable dream, but if a man can afford it, he may request his wife to stop working, and the wife would happily obey. If a wife earns more than a husband, it may be viewed as inappropriate or wrong. She is supposed to sacrifice her career and talents for her husband’s success at work.
Russian women don’t see responsibilities in a marriage as a burden, but as a labour of love
I know the statement above sounds somewhat idealistic, and for myself, having lived in a western society for 16+ years, it does ring entirely cheesy. But for Russian women it’s the ultimate truth.
If you have read my previous review here, Men in Relationships Are Happier and Healthier, it also included a passage about statistics demonstrating that couples with kids felt more miserable than the ones without children.
I posted an overview of this research on the women’s blog in Russian as well, and boy, was it a groundbreaking discovery once again.
I have been smashed from every possible angle by Russian females (and males), who indisputably trust that children can only bring happiness for the mother and make a marriage stronger, and it’s absolutely despicable to think otherwise, including any possible and impossible statistics.
Here is what Russian women wrote:
- “Western experiences and statistics do not apply to our countries. The attitude towards family and family values in Russia is completely different.”
- “Yes, marriage and family mean a lot of responsibilities and work, but this is what happiness is! Love is a challenge and a very difficult one, but we love, and that’s the most important thing. It’s simply not all people are ready to be happy.”
- “Nature programmed a woman to be a mother, and I totally disagree that kids could make a mother unhappy! Marriage is a different story: the woman feeds the man energetically, giving him her own power and life source, and she is indeed less happy than during the initial courtship stage.”
- “The women who think that the birth of a child made them less happy must have some brain damage. I can accept that women who didn’t have children as yet could think this way, but mothers? Is it even possible for a mother to look at her kids without a smile?”
- “This research is total crap. How could anyone even say that children bring unhappiness. I would want to see this smart man who wrote that. Children are a lot of work, patience, any mother will tell you that. If you do not love children, don’t have them.”
- “In our times, it’s possible to order any research and get the desired result. It can be achieved through special technologies. This is why I doubt the results of this research. In our country there were already times after the October revolution of 1917 when the institute of marriage was cancelled and every person could satisfy their needs in any way they wished, and it was called personal freedom.”
- “It’s not applicable to Russians, it’s a different mentality and lifestyle. Russians are a very special nation, with its own quirks. For example, the society’s view on families where people are not officially married is negative, people talk about them behind their backs, and don’t consider them serious, and call children born in such unions “illegally born”. So, everyone can make their own conclusions.”
- “Every country has its own mentality. This is why judging by one country’s results is incorrect. In many countries women put their careers first, and not their family, this is why they have problems, a child is preventing the woman’s career growth, and a husband requires more attention. This is why life of such people becomes more complicated after they start a family. Even though this research was done over 15 years, I can say that it is not applicable to all countries. I can even judge for myself, I got married very early and had a baby, and I became only happier. It doesn’t prevent me working, and my husband is also happy. We want to have twins. We support each other in challenging moments, solve problems together, as the Russian saying goes, “One head is good, but two are better.” Of course, we have our difficulties. But I would never have the will to try certain things if it wasn’t for my husband. I can confidently say that this research is only applicable to the countries where career is more important than family. And you cannot measure everyone with the same ruler. Even though it looks convincing.”
- “Maybe children make some people unhappy but we are quite the opposite! I am very happy. My children support me in difficult moments, I cannot imagine my life without them! When I wake up in the morning and see my smiling baby, I have a great motivation for the rest of the day!”
- “Life is designed that way that a person without a partner cannot be happy and satisfied with his or her life by definition. A person is not made for that. What about women, 100% any of them strive to be a beloved wife and a mother. It is simply the modern world that has distorted values, and it prevents a person to be always happy, whether he has a family or not. About the children, it’s designed by God that the highest pleasure a woman can get is from her children, and it means more than one. To be satisfied as a mother, a woman should have not 1, not 2, but at least 3 children.”
- “I do not understand what people mean when they say you should have enough fun for yourself before marriage. I will be having fun for the rest of my life, with my husband and the children given to us by God. Living for myself means for me living with the people I love, which means, first of all, my beloved husband and kids. Any life event will be 3 times more interesting if shared with your loved ones. Sharing the world, discovering it with the husband, and opening it for our children, being happy or sad together, sharing our emotions – can there be anything better than that? This incorporates all richness of life.”
- “Children cannot make us unhappy. Even though there is a lot of work after they are born, they bring happiness to every mother, especially if she wanted the child.”
- “I am an 18-year-old girl, and most of all in life I want to have a large and happy family. Lots of loving and happy children. And a husband who will support me and love me no matter what.”
In short, Russian women believe that happiness is a struggle, and that’s the way it meant to be. They also believe that only the courtship stage of a relationship should be pleasant for a woman, and the rest will be her making sacrifices for a husband and children, which she meekly accepts as the only way to experience the Nirvana of being a Mother. However, she won’t be having a child out of wedlock, as this is not what Nature and God meant for her.
Russian Orthodox Church views on family
In the western paradigm, happiness is a pleasure, but not in the Russian Christian tradition. The Russian Orthodox Church teaches women that “God endured, and so shall we”, and that she has to stick by her man, regardless of his virtues or faults.
Having a personal view opposing this standard is unacceptable for a woman. You will be looked upon as a cruel personage who doesn’t like babies and kittens. Not only that, an indifferent attitude or doing something that is viewed as inappropriate may cause a serious trouble for a woman.
“Yes, family is hard and a lot of work, but this is what happiness means”, that’s the epitome of thinking of Russian women about marriage and kids.