I wrote this for you just in case it will help you in the future... I meant no disrespect, I only wanted to express my familiarity with your situation in hopes you can use my experience.
"I also encouraged her to take over any parts of the home to do with as she liked. I felt she needed to exert her own thoughts and desires to express herself and feel a productive part of our family. I believe all foreign women coming to live here need to have some part... some responsibilities when they arrive. Without them finding some part of life here that they can contribute to and start to feel as an equal... they will not last, they will be humbled and loose interest unless they can feel their contributions are necessary welcomed." "
I do not take advice or critical comments as disrespectful. Perhaps others can share their experience here. Some things to consider: What did you/she do to prevent her from going stir crazy? What things or events caused her to feel inadequate? What did you do to make her feel part of the family or a valuable contributor to the household? Hopefully some who have been (still) married can offer suggestions to help others (me included) on how to deal with someone who basically left their past life behind. I am far from an expert. She and I discussed at length the difficulties we were going to encounter and that patience and compromise will have to be taken to a new level. I look forward to hearing from those that have made it work or those who have failed. Failed may not be the right word here. But I am sure that after a period of time a woman may feel she made a mistake and gets homesick or whatever.
The fist thing we did was to remodel the master bed and bath. She picked out almost everything. Ideas like accent lighting - have to run new wiring through the walls we chose together (she not realizing we can run new wires). She put in a lot of work stripping wall paper and painting, staining wood etc. She picked out all of the flowers to plant in her flower garden - though I disagree with the method of planting some in rows. I think it looks stupid, she thinks it looks great. It's her garden but I'll persuade her to 'plan' a garden based on styles of plants etc. Maybe next year - we have all winter to design. And she basically ran the vegetable garden - many differences there on how to do it!
A couple times a week she makes something from the garden and puts in jars.
Recently she has been itching to get a job. And I realize I must get a different car. She is enrolling in a class at the local community college. And needs the navigation device. A big setback was injuring my arm. Can't drive the old 5 speed that doesn't have power steering. She can't drive the pickup - yet.
A small battle we had was driving lessons. Even though she has driven and owned a car before I felt she needed it. She was insulted. But she acquiesced. And then she realized it was a good choice.
Just recently we have started taking day trips on the weekends. Crystal Cave - not as cool as the caves she took me to when I visited Russia - and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. She was mad I waited three months to show her Hawk Mountain! Already planned a day trip to coal country this week. Going down in a coal mine and it is "Pioneer Day" at the tunnel. She'll get to see firsthand regular folks at a PA fair type venue. Renaissance Fair didn't count. Plus I get to sit in the passenger seat and hold my breath as she drives through the windy back roads of PA.
She still studies English every day. And we are now watching Russian films with English subtitles as well as English with English subtitles. Netflix actually has a selection of Russian films.
She still feels inadequate regarding her English. And is reluctant to attend socials. But after our last party - the host studied Russian in school - she is starting to feel more comfortable meeting new people. One of the quirky things she does is take photos of everything. She sends them to her sister and family. Even my mom's apartment and building so they can see how retired people are helped out. It's mostly a building full of old widows. This is getting long...
Well now, finally got a car she can be independent in. I'd like to say driving skills are improved - I'd like to say... And I will be crossing my fingers every day and hoping to not get the 'phone call'.
Driving test next week and she will have license to terrorize other drivers. Not just me :)
One interesting thing to point out - I don't know if it is particularly a Russian trait or just that she is not used to it - is that she thinks picking veggies and putting them in a basket on the counter means they will be there when needed (unlimited storage). At first I tried to explain that you cannot do that they will not last to much scornful responses. Now of course - patience being the key - after discovering peppers/tomatoes/cucumbers etc decomposing (slightly) and the invention of fruit flies, she is starting to take suggestions on how not to pick things until ready to use or else process them for storage. I am realizing that just trying to explain how some things work is not enough. She has to realize the downside of some things, or basically experience it first hand before she agrees. STUBBORN WOMAN! I wouldn't give her up for a million dollars.
One more thing, she will also take up volunteer work at a local hospital. This will get her into the mix with other people and help to develop better English skills. Secondly it will give her an idea of what the nursing profession is all about since nursing school is in the near (?) future.
I currently have a volunteer working with me for the express purpose of getting relative work experience, and to be able to pad out their CV (Resume to the Americans). There's another two applied today, and there was recently one (a Ukrainian, no less) volunteering in the admin office, just to get the experience of working in a British office. She'd just landed herself a full time paid job, so I guess it worked out well.
It's a good, perfectly valid 'foot in the door' path to take.
My wife wanted to work in the Aquarium, but no previous experience led nowhere. Then she tried volunteering, but the interview yielded no results. She also tried every store around the city, but nobody wanted a girl who does not speak perfect English. Discouraged, frustrated, and even depressed after two months of fruitless effort, one day we saw a "Now Hiring" sign on a relatively new store near home. She applied, was interviewed within a week, passed the background check, and now is happily working.
It is not her dream job, but it is better than nothing. And her English level is getting much better by practicing with real English speaking customers.
She has a car already, but has no license. She went to class for a week (better than dealing with my teaching methods) and after a few practices with me she is starting to drive with more confidence. Soon comes the road test and full freedom ... but it will take her a while to drive alone because she cannot figure out her way around. Maybe she will buy a GPS, like Russian girlfriend.
By the way, I do not why, but she prefers to leave everything on the counter instead of using the refrigerator. That is a battle that I may never win, though she is starting to learn the consequences of leaving food out for too long.
One more "funny" story. After being denied every month for six months, we finally decided to get her a "secure" Credit Card. One week after being approved for the secure card (better than carrying cash everywhere), she received a personalized invitation for an unsecured credit card. Just for fun, she decided to apply ... the new card arrived a week later. Better yet, NO ANNUAL FEE!!! Unlike the secure card, which in addition to the deposit requires a $29 annual fee. What a rip-off.
Just got back from home depot. She wins again. I wanted to plant a shade tree for the deck - sun kills in summer. She says the tree has 'no value'. Fruit trees are better. Sparing you all the debate, we just picked up two different cherry trees and two different apple trees. Can't wait for her disappointment when they bare no fruit next year. Especially because I will be pinching off the young fruit as soon as the blossoms fade. ;)
Another interesting thing happened. Driving instructor took her to the course they do the test on this morning. There was one other car practicing. I spoke to the guy for a couple minutes. They are all from the same city in Russia as my wife! Friday she met a Russian who has been living in our small town for 3 years. Today she meets people from her city. Tonight we are going to a bar-b-q with a guy I work with with who married a Russian gal. First time meeting her today.
That all sounds familiar Ralph. My take on many of the ladies not wanting to take advice from an American is because in their mind Americans are far less intelligent than FSU people. One lady I met in Russia could not change the film in her camera. She had the shop she bought the film from change it every time. I was going to change it for her once and she went ballistic (I could change the film in my camera when I was 7 years old). However she would allow a stranger to change it once when the shop lady did not know how to change it. Several issues I had with my x-wife one in particular putting a new gas central heat unit in. She emphatically told me we would not have gas in the house because it would blow up. I explained we already had a gas cook stove but she said that was little gas and a heat unit was big gas. The next day she talked to her brother who is a computer programmer in Ukraine and has limited experience in the field of heating. He told her a gas unit was ok. So when I came home she told me she talked to her brother and he said gas was ok so we could install a gas unit.
But you are right you have to let her hit the wall and fall down and then after she fails miserably she will allow you to help her but she will still think she is far more intelligent than you are.
My x-wife came with an international drivers license she had bought from someone with enough authority to write it for her. She had never driven before she came here. It was really touch and go the first few days. First time I had to climb out of a minivan laying on its side but nobody was hurt. She improved and learned quickly.
It was amazing hearing these two Russians gab away in the back of the car last night. It was interesting how my wife became possessive of me in the presence of the other woman. It was also interesting to see this gorgeous 34 yo MD who is married to a guy not so good looking (I'm being kind) and obviously very much in love with the man - married for 6 years now.
I'm starting to discover they are everywhere!
These two Russian ladies bonded instantly and we all had a great time together. Planning a weekend get-away soon. In my humble opinion I think having friends from her homeland who she can converse with is a great idea.
They want to make sure they are your only girl, and they are better than the other. This must be reinforced. I went to Ukraine three times. The second girl, Tanya from Zaporozhye was always asking, did Alla do this, did Alla do that, although she may not have had any intentions of staying with me. I told my current gf Alla's last name one time. She remembers it to this day. When our train passed Zaporozhye, she made sure I knew we were passing "my girlfriend's" city. It didn't help when I called her Tanya, a while back. That took some explaining.
Perhaps there are international driver's licenses. It's not a big deal for a country or a counterfeiter to print it out. Just like an international driver's permit, the issue is whether or not countries or states will honor them.
My uncle once came to the US form the Philippines with an international driver's license. I didn't ask where he got it. Driving with him was a nightmare. He would change lanes in front of cars, even after I explained to him proper lane changing. In most cities in the Philippines, whoever gets to the lane first, has the right of way, I was once told. It doesn't matter how close the opening is, just get there. It is up to the other party to hit their brakes. It even doesn't matter if the lane you are going to belongs to the opposite traffic if the other lanes are congested.
Whether it exists or not she had one, wrecked the car, and the sheriffs office accepted it to write the accident report on with no repercussions. The officer and I knew each other by name and she would have known where to find me had there been a problem. It does appear she would have been required to have a license in the Ukraine for this to be valid but the local sheriff office did not know that evidently. http://www.idlservice.com This site calls it a drivers license and I am not sure what is the difference between a permit and license.
I also agree with the pride you mention Ralph. My x-wife had some psychology education and after we met people she would tell me which of them were good and which were bad no middle ground. We went to a company Christmas party together. During the course of the party a couple employees from and another division of the company came up to us and ask me for employment for a friend of theirs. On the way home my x-wife gave me a hug and told me those guys all love you. And the two looking for work for their friend did not ask for a job from your boss or their boss they ask you.
Another time we went to my son's church. He is the youth minister there and the minister was on vacation so he was giving the sermon. Of course my x-wife could understand very little of the words but as I said she knew body language. She leaned over to me and whispered your son is good, he should go to Ukraine. They would pay a lot of money to him to do this there.
Both times when she talked to her friends and family on the web cam she excitedly relayed this to them.
FSULover - ah yes, keeping things on the counter :(
She likes to make her Russian salad. She boils chicken for later use. And she will let it sit in the water on the stove top overnight if I don't say something. Even when bringing things home from a restaurant, it will sit on the counter...
I know this is evil thinking - I won't let it happen - but I think she just needs a good bout of food poisoning before it is drilled into her that food must be refrigerated!!!!
Cool thing about the new car is bluetooth for the phone. Just push a button and completely hands free yakking. She gets to hear real conversations (two 'mericans talking) in normal speed and also responds. In a short time English got exponentially better. And everyone tells her how good her English is. The key is meeting and conversing with as many different people as possible. She pulled a good one on the driving instructor. He was talking to her for a few minutes and she would respond with 'um-huh'. I recognized this 'um-huh' and interrupted. I asked if she understood anything he just talked about and she said no. I explained to the instructor that when she just goes along and says, "Um-huh," it means she doesn't have a clue what you're talking about. Pride once again, she would rather pretend than just say I don't understand. Americans use too many slang expressions and take shortcuts in language that may take a while for a non-American to understand. If she were to go to the UK it would be like starting over again to learn English.
Today, tree planting 101. She thinks dig a hole insert tree root and free fruit forever. I told her last night it could be three years before you get any apples. She is down with it. I just know the arguments next spring when I start pinching off blossoms...