Foreign brides, also referred to somewhat pejoratively as mail order brides, often evoke a negative connotation and many people are uncomfortable with the idea. This is perhaps exacerbated by stories paraded in the news and media about mail order marriages gone wrong or the unethical and illegal operations surrounding foreign bride matchmaking. Indeed, these are events that do occur in real life.
There are many foreign bride services available, offering trips and meetings with women from a variety of nations like Russia, China, Ukraine, Colombia, and various other locations in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The notion is sort of romantic, the idea of a woman being rescued by a man who will take her to another place to have a better life. The notion is also disturbing to some, the idea of a much older man and his questionable interest in foreign, younger women. On one hand, critics might wonder why men don’t just find wives in their own country.
Why do they specifically have to go abroad? Maybe it’s out of perversity or the belief that foreign women are more easily subjugated. On the other hand, what’s wrong with a man finding a wife elsewhere? Sometimes a change of culture is refreshing or wanting to bring a wife back could be seen as a compassionate act.
Just like “normal” marriages, the statistics among the marriages of foreign brides are varied. Some stay together and some get divorced. Of course, we can never completely get the whole picture because we can only interview a small sample of these people. There’s the possibility of people who don’t come forward about an unhappy marriage, or who stay in it regardless—just because a marriage lasts doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s happy. But also, when we look at mail order bride marriages, we’re looking at them from an American perspective, where the idea of arranged marriages is unappealing, whereas in other cultures they’re common and even mandatory, and it’s possible for them to be happy marriages.
In the end, there’s nothing inherently wrong with foreign brides. What really matters is whether both parties are happy and consenting and unfortunately, any type of marriage doesn’t always work that way. And it’s unfortunate that sometimes women are exploited, or that foreign marriages are used as scams, or that grooms aren’t always well meaning. But there can be positive outcomes as well, so we should look at the issue of foreign brides as it is rather than exaggerating certain aspects.