The Financial Dangers of Being a Mail-Order Bride

I’ve been asked by one of my male readers why I am not addressing the risks that men face in a mail-order bride situation. I do not address men’s risks because they are not the ones who end up in a foreign country with no means of support, fully depending financially and emotionally on their spouse.

I chose to speak from a women’s perspective for two reasons. One is pretty obvious. I based my previous posts on my own experience. Second, while I have lived in the United States I’ve met a few women who were mail-order brides. Just like my mother. However, their stories differ significantly. What I saw, heard and learned horrified me, proving that my mother’s story was an exception to the rule.

When my mother arrived to the United States, she did not speak English, she did not drive a car and she did not know what rights she had in this country. She did not know what to expect. She was not alone. Many women who move to the United States as mail-order brides find themselves completely dependent on their husbands. Those women are also unaware of the financial risks, hardly realizing the implications those risks lead to.

Women might find themselves in extremely vulnerable situations. They are unaware of the immigration laws and, most importantly, the local laws. A majority of mail-order brides do not know how the financial system works in the United States.

Money

What kind of men look for a foreign bride in the economically less developed countries? Really, what do you think?

From my own personal experience, I observed a few types, and discussed them in my previous posts. However, I have to admit that the most common type of men are those men who believe that women in less developed countries can be domesticated much easier. These men like the idea of being breadwinners, and their spouses being homemakers. There is nothing wrong with this. Right?

When women arrive to the United States, for one reason or another, some men tend to forget that their mail-order brides want love and romantic commitment first. Financial stability and health care comes in second. Men often start to obsess with the thought that all their new wife wants is their money.

What happens then is that the men ultimately start viewing money as a control tool that they can use against their foreign better halves. Some of them use it well, successfully creating an unequal power dynamic. Women end up asking (if not begging) their men for money to pay for trivial things such as phone calls back home, feminine hygiene products, makeup, and clothes.

Imagine yourself asking your spouse for money every time you needed to buy something, and reporting back on how you spent every penny.

Humiliation becomes a part of life. There is nowhere to look for help, and soon the hope of a better life with a man, whom they thought was an ideal partner, disappears.

Language

Some men figure out quickly that besides money, a readily available tool of control is their partner’s inability to speak English. As long as their mail-order brides do not learn English well enough to find a job and earn money, they will stay dependent on them.

Some men go as far as to claim that they cannot afford expensive English lessons. What women might not know is that some learning centers offer free ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.

As I said before in my posts, some men in the position of power can manipulate what they cannot dominate, and belittle what they cannot understand. Women end up feeling wrenched out, living a hollow life.

Car

If you don’t know how to drive and you don’t have a car, you cannot go places, meet people, and find out what lies beyond the walls of your new house. Some men avoid teaching their foreign wives how to drive, and delay buying a car as long as they can. Why? I am sure you know the answer.

I met a girl who did not have a car for the first four years of her marriage. She had two children with a man who used to tell her that they did not have enough money to afford a second car. Every time one of her kids got sick, she had to ask her neighbors to help take her children to the doctor.

Is the cost of a presumably better life in the promised land really worth the price? For some, the answer is “no.”

25 thoughts on “The Financial Dangers of Being a Mail-Order Bride

  1. Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think

    Depending on a man in the country of my birth is scary enough. I can’t imagine what it’s like to move to a foreign country and have to totally rely on one. I’m glad it worked out for your mom. I’m sure there are quite a few men who have more nefarious plans for their brides when they arrive in the United States.

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  2. shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet

    Didn’t you know? All mail-order brides are really just women intent on getting a “free” green-card by coming to this country, then stealing the unsuspecting man’s money and accusing him of domestic violence. This is so prevalent that they had to change the Violence Against Women Act in order for it to pass this year so that it protects the poor men who order their brides through the mail. *dripping with sarcasm*
    While I don’t doubt that a few women try to take advantage of this situation, it really is important to remember that the men are the ones with the power in these situations. Because if they weren’t concerned with being the ones with the power, they likely wouldn’t have gone for a mail order bride to begin with. (No offense to your step-father, Alyosa. I honestly believe that your’s and your mother’s story is the exception, not the rule.)

    Reply
  3. Michelle

    I believe you are right; that your mother is very lucky that she is happy in her marriage and that her spouse treats her like an equal. He must have really been looking for love, too, not just a cheap live-in maid with “benefits.” Makes me so sick knowing there are a lot of men who do look to other countries to find women for those purposes.

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  5. 101 Centavos

    Certainly any immigrant faces huge hurdles in adapting to a new country. Doing so while in thrall to a domineering or manipulative partner could be crushing. Good perspective, Aloysa.

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  8. Elizabeth @ Simple Finance

    Are you going to publish a book about this topic? You really should. I’d buy it, definitely.

    I agree with Erin’s above comment – there really is a misperception about what mail order brides are looking for. I think that’s why some men treat them as possessions, not people.

    Reply
  9. James

    I work with a guy who had one bride from Russia who he beat up so she left him and went back to Russia. He ordered another bride from Russia and has been with her for over 5 years. I don’t talk to the guy because he is a freak, but I hear these things from his acquaintances.

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  17. Gavin

    So im just a really nice guy that was just looking into the idea of a mail order bride, Russian and Ukrainian culture is very interesting to me and the language/ascent just make me want to hear it all day long. I really would love to meet girls out of country but being from california that doesnt happen. id honestly b in it for love but i dont want to get a girl out to get me. any help on finding a REAL nice girl with REAL intentions?

    Reply
  18. Tony Logan

    The most important part of these intercultural relationships if they are to actually succeed long term, is that the husband must genuinely be interested in learning the native language and respecting the cultural roots of his new wife. That is essential in building a respectful and equal partnership between wife and husband, and it matters not so much simply that English is actually the main language spoken in the US and that the wife needs to learn it if the couple is living here.

    The wife should not be expected to completely submerge herself in her husband’s cultural while the husband merely sits around doing nothing in learning what his wife’s culture should have to offer him if he is marrying a woman from that other background. What are the kids from such a relationship supposed to do? Be simply monolingual English speakers and unable to communicate in the native tongue of their relatives on the wife’s side? NO!

    The husband needs to learn the native tongue of his wife just as much as she needs to learn English, and the kids need to be constantly exposed to the language of their mom. They need to be all as bilingual as possible. That, after all, is what can make intercultural marriages so much more interesting than plain ol’ USA only ones.

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