Marriage As A Science

ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency

June 3, 1994

by Vladimir Loschilin

Translation. Click here for an original copy of this article in Russian

On average, once every two weeks a Washingtonian bachelor takes off to Moscow to propose marriage. And this occurs at a time when the surplus of single women in America's national capital is legendary.

A phrase spoken with undisguised grief by an anchorwoman of a popular morning radio show recently caught my attention. Referring to this mass exodus of bachelors and complaining about the lack of patriotism on the part of the stronger sex in D.C., the journalist invoked the name of the dating service that's to blame: Encounters International.

I decided to call them. The information service gave me the company's telephone number immediately. A pleasant female voice with a slight accent answered. This was Natasha Spivack who, together with husband Berel, established an introduction service 9 months ago in the Washington suburb of Bethesda. We spoke a few minutes in Russian. As it turned out, Natasha is our Russian compatriot, an alumna from Moscow University's School of African and Asian Studies. We continued the conversation in English once Berel, who does not know her native language, joined the conference.

"Did you meet in the same way?" I asked. "No," she replied,"we met at the dances." At that time, Natasha had been a widow for 4 years - her first husband, with whom she came to the States, died tragically in a car accident.

I asked about Berel. It turns out that Mr.Spivack is not a professional matchmaker but an economist, employed at the U.S. general Accounting Office. As for Natasha, she has been teaching languages in one of Washington's universities. In short, their family had been financially secure even before starting the Russian-American introduction service.

Then why did the Spivacks decide to launch a marriage business? "Mostly out of sympathy," Natasha said. "I had left single friends in Russia when I came to the States and I wanted to help them somehow. You just cannot imagine how many beautiful, intelligent, caring women there are in Moscow who spend their Christmas holidays alone. There are no locations to speak of where they can meet a man with sincere intentions."

Moscow periodicals are overflowing these days with ads such as "A wealthy American would like to share his life with a blond Russian girl." Or "A stunning brunette wants to meet a foreign businessman." There is no shortage of agencies wanting to exploit this golden opportunity.

"Where is your niche in this market?" I asked Natasha. Suddenly the dam broke and Natasha became positively professorial in her lengthy reply. "Encounters International emphasizes two very important points.The first is the quality of screening. The majority of women in our catalog are professionals, and almost everyboby speaks English. Our representative in Moscow sends us photos and video taped interviews of Russian girls who meet the high criteria. Twice a year, we ourselves go to Russia and interview women. A women who applies should have no more than one child. Such a restriction is not very ethical, I suppose, but what can we do? That is the limit upon which most of our American clients insist."

"The second advantage of our service is fast communication," Natasha went on. "If our member likes a Russian woman, he can exchange letters with her within a single week. Their letters will be transmitted by fax from Washington to Moscow and back again. In other services, it can takea man 6 months working all by himself to compile a correspondence catalog. By the way, we accept only women from Moscow and St.Petersburg. Communication with other Russian cities, let alone NIS cities, is too prohibitive."

"Do Russian women pay for their own fax transmission? I asked."

"No, all expenditures in the process of finding a bride is the responsibility of the American man," Berel replied. "Usually the total, including air fare, is somewhere between 3 and 4 thousand dollars. However, a man may correspond with more than one woman during the process of finding his match. Competitiveness between the women in Moscow for his attentions often will play to his favor."

"Beautiful, smart women in the USA are no less frequent than in Russia. Why, then, do Americans come to you ready to pay thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles in search of a lifetime partner?"

"Russian women are less materialistic than American women," Berel replied. They are less fixated on achieving financial success for themselves or for their husbands; they appreciate men more and are ready to accept them they way they are. Almost all of them sincerely exercise traditional family values. Such women are harder to find here." I decided not to argue with these conclusions. Thanks to Encounters International, two couples have been married and six are engaged (at the time of writing, May, 1994). Dozens of others are busy exchanging faxes, videos and photos. Yes, the grass is still greener on the other side, even considering the snowbound winters of Moscow. American men are inspired to go to Russia for brides,and our girls have an urgent need to build their family nests in the New World. Perhaps this is all for the best.

Who knows? Before long, we will all have distant relatives in the USA.

Encounters International
10419 Snow Point Dr.
Bethesda, MD 20814 USA
Phone: (301) 530-7759
Fax: (301) 530-5564