Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wedded Strangers

Though "Everybody I Love You" will focus on Ukrainians and Americans who use the services of an online marriage broker, the book will spill over into the other republics of the Former Soviet Union and touch on such related subjects as bi-cultural marriages.

Wedded Strangers: The Challenges of Russian-American Marriages, by Lynn Visson, is one title on my current reading list. First published in 1998, the book reappeared as an expanded edition in 2000 so the author could more fully address the issue of online marriage brokers. That may have resulted in the twenty-page chapter "Love and Marriage Dot-Com," but within another year the book was sadly dated once again:

The American spouses had trouble with the way their Russian mates were 'assured of certain certainties.' Marxist ideology and historical materialism were so deeply etched into the minds of the population that even the most virulently anti-communist Russians were affected by the Soviet mindset. Aside from religious fundamentalists or mad scientists, Americans tend to reject the notion that philosophical systems can explain everything, and that there is always a 'right' or a 'wrong' answer; several options should be explored and the best choice made (197).

I guess you're either with the author or against her on that one.

Visson goes on to write:

"For Soviet believers, there was only one answer. They were right and everyone else was wrong ... One foreigner described this mentality as that of people who had 'the unstoppable, unsteerable certainty of a child's noisy windup toy'" (197-198).

Such thinking -- how America was becoming the thing it once professed to hate, a Sovietized state -- led me to write this during the lead-up to the current Iraq War.