Annually, around 30,000 people come to the US on a Fiancé(e) Visa. Many of them are mail-order brides. Foreign brides come to the US and many other countries to enter international marriages with men who they found online. How successful are these marriages? For how long do people tend to stay together if married internationally?
No extensive statistics are available on mail order marriages. Hence, no wonder you are asking the question of whether mail order marriages work. In this article, you will find your answers for sure.
Mail order marriages: what are they like?
How do they even happen? Many people question the feasibility of mail order marriages. But guess what? They do work.
Traditionally, single women in post-Soviet, Asian, and Latin American countries turn to special bride or wedding agencies (or their websites) and let them know they are looking for a foreign husband. Agencies help women create attractive profiles, get professional photos, and assist them in translation when communicating with American, European, Canadian, British, or Australian grooms.
Men, in their turn, directly register mail order bride sites for fees. They actively talk to single women that they like and find through search engines based on personal criteria. Once a couple is ready to meet in real life, mail order bride sites or agencies may help them in this, including by providing an interpreter if needed.
Men usually travel to home countries of brides as it is safer for the latter and can show if a man has serious intentions.
How it all continues will depend only on the couple’s decision – whether they want to marry straight away, wait for some time, meet only from time to time when traveling, etc.
If they decide to get married, several scenarios are possible:
- They marry in the home country of a girl and then decide where to stay – in her, his or third country
- The bride travels to the home country of a man, they marry there and usually settle in his or third country
Some myths about international marriages
Before we delve deeper into it and why mail order marriages work, let’s look at some stereotypes about them.
Most people imagine mail order marriages in one of the ways:
- They are idyllic, people from different corners of the world meet each other, fall in love online and live happily till their death after marriage (quite an infantile view.)
- Mail order brides are mercantile women, gold-diggers, typically Russian, they only want to get money from men and settle in a first-world country.
- Men are abusers and they buy a poor woman from abroad to have control over her.
We do not claim such scenarios do not work. There are cases like this. However, they are extremes. There are many more scenarios, both happy and not really. And, just in case, most mail order brides are not Russians but Filipinas. And they marry not rich Americans only – American petitioners for a Fiancé(e) Visa usually earn $56,013. Some of them are even unemployed. So they are not tremendously wealthier than the mail order brides they choose to marry.
A good dose of reality
Not all mail-order couples live happily for years. It happens that they divorce too. However, statistic data shows that mail order marriages usually last longer and their divorce rates are lower than those of traditional same-country couples.
Two reasons can explain this:
- People who were searching for foreign spouses were more determined about what they wanted and why. From the start they knew they wanted to settle down, they meticulously searched for the most compatible partner, tried out many options online, and made the decision to marry when they were sure it was worth all the paperwork and migration. That is why they do not tend to divorce – because they made a conscious choice and found the right partner. Couples that meet online transition to marriage in 1 or 4 years of knowing each other, while couples that meet offline may take around 10 years or never to make their relationship formal.
- There are hidden problems in mail order bride marriages. For example, women can face violence from men, and since they are migrants and are in a vulnerable position, they do not dare to divorce. They also might be in financial dependence on foreign husbands, and so on. The good news is that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects mail order brides in the US.
These are the realities of mail order bride marriages. Some are happy others are not. Some work, some don’t – just the same way it happens with traditional marriages.
So is mail order marriage good or bad?
You may not believe us if we simply say – it is neither good nor bad. It is a relationship that you build, so it’s your responsibility.
That is why we will bolster our words with the observations of a law professor Marcia Zug, who wrote a book Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches. She shared that when she just started her research for the book, she expected to find that mail-order bride marriages are harmful, problematic, and, merely saying, not good.
To her surprise, mail order marriages turned out to be something different. «Despite significant risks, mail-order marriages are typically beneficial and even liberating for women», Zug said. The description of the book says that history shows that mail-order marriages provide women with new opportunities and it should even be encouraged!
According to Michael Rosenfeld, a Stanford sociologist studying online dating, it does not matter where you find your potential partner – online or offline. Sooner or later your relationship will transit into the offline domain. There is nothing super new that online dating can offer us – everything already exists in the offline world, and the online mail-order bride industry is not an exception. It is a form of relationship between people from different countries, but who met not on a business trip to Japan or a summer vacation in Turkey but online.
How to make an international marriage work?
So, do mail-order marriages work? Definitely yes. But it depends on you. What can you do for a mail order marriage to happen and be happy? Do everything you would do in any other international and long-distance relationship:
- Be patient
- Be open-minded to your partner
- Learn her language and teach her yours
- Appreciate the little things between the two of you in the long-distance
- Openly talk about your intentions, what you like and don’t like
- Build your relationship on mutual agreement, shared vision, common goals and trust
- Trust and listen, listen, listen!
There is no guarantee your mail order marriage will work. But it can work if you put the effort into it – if you know what you want, search for what you need, respect the other person and treat her properly. Happy mail order marriage!