I was asked by a couple of people to summarize my experiences after about a year and a half of being together with her in the USA. The fact that it's going great and we love each other we covered it. So, what problems I see facing a new couple native groom + foreign bride.
I have not seen any material problems honetsly. It's gone very smooth. This of course depends on personality fit. My wife speaks English, so this isn't a problem in every day interaction. In fact, most people find her accent very cute and she is likable by everyone she has interacted so far. In college, English is a bit of an issue especially when she writes essays for her English class. The night that precedes the deadline for the essay I know it will be a long night as she is a perfectionist and I want to help her. The greatest difficulty she has is with articles, which apparently are not used in Russian language. So, she is still very unsure whether she needs to add a "the" or "a" in front of nouns. I must say, however, that her essays are much better than most native speaking students in her class. She feels a little stressed sometimes because she is very eloquent in Russian and she cannot use a big vocabulary in English yet. In Russian culture using a rich vocabulary and speaking artfully is very much appreciated.
The green card process was easier than I ever thought. No attorney was needed. We filled out the applications and added all back up documents that were requested and we dropped the package at the local INS. We received a letter with 2 dates, 1 for her fingeprints and 1 for an interview for the both of us. The interview was a matter of less than 10 minutes where she was asked a few questions without any tricks at all. The green card arrived within 2 weeks in the mail. Lead time from submitting application to actaully receiving the card in the mail was a little more than 4 months. No relation to the long lead times for K1 visa.
As most Russians and Ukrainians do, she does gravitate towards developing friendships more with Russian speaking people. She is socializing with 3 Russian women in the area and a Polish girl at college.
She has taken over all housekeeping, cooking, checking the mail, etc. on her own. I do get my shirts ironed mid-week without being bitched at. I do take garbage out every Sunday night. She will come next to me and sit when I work on my laptop, massage my neck and run her hands over my hair in the most loving way. We are totally going over board kissing publicly and holding hands religiously at all times. It has come to the point that I go somewhere by myself and I am missing holding her hand, it has almost become part of my nature.
My parents and reletives love her. My dad keeps telling me that I got the windfall so often that makes my mom jelous ::)) A fiend is telling me that she looks like Maria Sharapova a few inches shorter. At work, they keep asking me on which of my frequent overseas trips and at which airport I met her, I reply with a smile. It is really self fullfilling to hear all this I won't hide it.
As we all know, age difference is not everywhere "politically correct" in this country, so there have been occasions when some old ladies will make a face or persistently and purposefully look at me then at her, then again the same twenty times to point that this wasn't supposed to be. Men of any age don't make faces. Girls my wife's age are looking at me three times mor often than before. After all, I am with one of them now, to quote Jerry Seinfeld, "I am inside the castle".
Learning how to drive is something that took her quite some time to accomplish. I strongly recommend to have the woman learn to drive before she leaves her country. It is less of a hassle. Once she has a driver's license from another country, first of all she knows how to drive and can drive with her driver license, and second it is much easier to get a US driver's license.
The only thing that took anm unusual 2 months to complete was getting a social security number. After 9-11, they don't give SSNs the same day. They check with INS first and that takes some time. I was with the impression that she needed SSN first before applying for a state ID card, but that is wrong. She can get state ID card without an SSN.
One of the lengthiest things to do timewise is change her name on her Ukrainian passport. Our marriage is not recognized at this point in Ukraine (she is up for grabs there :)). First she must have her Ukrainian national passport (like our state ID) changed and then she can apply for a change in her international passport. To do this, you need a marriage certificate that needs to be certified by the state (you actually have to go to the state house or send the certificate by mail) and then translated in Russian. If you do not want to wait for at least 2 months in Ukraine until the bureacrats get to your case, a $100-200 extra would do the trick.
The biggest issue that she manages from her standpoint is the fact that she is missing her parents. She communicates with them on the phone and email, but that is not enough. She also keeps contact with her best friends. We'll see, she should be a US citizen in about 2 years, so she might be able to invite her parents to come here for good. She does enjoy speaking her language and from what I can tell her Russian friends feel the same. We go often to a Russian supermarket and I can tell that she really enjoys it. Although she is in good terms with the food list in the USA, she does prefer specific Russina deli items, chumak (Russian ketchup), dry fish, Russian mayo, etc. She does like very much the flexibility of choices in foods and healthy foods here. She is very careful of her diet and whenever her weight goes slightly above 115 pounds, she goes on more diet. It must be cultural because her friends are the same way. It is a lot easier to keep in good shape here as for example in Russia there is limited variety of non-fat foods and fruits are expensive, so she doesn't have to substitute real fruits with artificial juices. She also takes care of herself with all necessary creams and stuff women use to maintain top notch. She likes to dress up when going out and as a result I dress up (and this is not quite usual here except for specific places and accasions, but what the hell if I feel good what do I care).
Nothing else comes to mind that would jump up as a unique point. We are an everyday, loving couple. Good luck to all!
Thank you for the update...
I took the liberty to cut-paste both your posts (no e-mail address) into an e-mail I just sent to a friend of mine who puts down the credibility of east-west relationships.
Like millions of other american men, he is bitter at the way his marriage turned out, although some of the causes are his own fault for letting it happen.
We all know the gory details or marriage to a western woman, don't we?....so I will not spoil the beauty of your report with it.
Thank you Wtrav2...and best wishes to both of you.
I agree with the other posters. Sounds like you have found what we are all here seeking. My most heartfelt congratulations. Really, friend.
My situation is nowhere near the stage that yours is. You asked for additional details on what happened concerning my two Moldovans.
I tried to email you using the email address that I find in the column (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it is returned as closed account. Could you update your information or send me an email - so i can write back personally to you?
That was so useful for me wtrav. My fiance has brought up a few topics you spoke about and just about everything you mentioned I have been thinking about alot, I mean alot. She will be here in a few months if not sooner, were getting so close now. I wish you both the best of luck in the future.
with doing so shedding some light on the other side.
It would seem to me that you've been treated kindly red-tape wise, and that hint of paying 'dues' there (her country) rather than waiting for the slow machine to produce the required paperwork is noted, especially so because I believe there's some time-out period connected to the validity of the translated documents hence speed is crucial.
Yeah, driving a car is a crucial part of adapting in the western world I suppose, espeially when public transport cannot be compared to 'home'. When used to the latter it must be something to do this in another part of the world, of which one has a limited knowledge and command of language.
Bottom line is it would seem you've been lucky with it all but especially with her - congrats.