Successful “Mail-Order Bride” marriages?

Odd list today up at the Listverse blog: “Top Ten Facts About Mail-Order Brides.” Even odder to me, though, was the factoid listed at number 8:

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that “…marriages arranged through [mail order bride] services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole, fully 80 percent of these marriages having lasted over the years for which reports are available.” The USCIS also reports that “… mail-order bride and e-mail correspondence services result in 4,000 to 6,000 marriages between U.S. men and foreign brides each year.”

I find this statistic a bit surprising, to say the least.  I don’t have any additional knowledge about the topic and I have no time to look up additional facts (perhaps at the USCIS website?).  I have, actually, known someone (many, many years ago and not in the church) who married a Russian bride using some sort of service like this and I believe the marriage has lasted, though it would be inappropriate for me to discuss any details further.

Why would these sorts of marriages last longer than your average U.S. marriage?  Does it say something about these sorts of marriages or, rather, does it say more about the average U.S. marriage?  Is the statistic untrustworthy?  Any thoughts?

(By the way, in the event anyone reading this is interested in preventing their marriage from becoming one more negative statistic, I recommend our booklet God’s Plan for Happy Marriage.)

9 thoughts on “Successful “Mail-Order Bride” marriages?

  1. One point to consider regarding arranged marriages is that in one sense they work “backwards” compared to the typical Western marriage. In Western nations, people typically fall in love and then get married. In arranged marriages, people get married and then fall in love.

    Since arranged marriages usually take place in cultures where divorce is heavily frowned upon, couples have a huge incentive to learn to love each other, and a huge disincentive to ending the marriage simply because there isn’t enough romance. By contrast, in divorce-friendly Western nations, some may consider it easier to divorce when the romance is gone, rather than to do the work and make the sacrifice involved in rekindling the romance and strengthening the marital commitment.

    A man who selects a mail-order bride is probably not starting his marriage with unrealistically lofty ideas about romance. Meanwhile, the bride is probably not a U.S. citizen, so if she likes living in the U.S. she has an incentive to maintain good relations with her husband for many years (at least until she becomes a citizen). In an environment where both parties realize that a loving relationship will only come as a result of work and sacrifice, perhaps this increases the likelihood that such work and sacrifice will occur — and will keep the marriage stronger than many typical Western “romances.”

  2. I was thinking along a parallel line: those who go through mail-order may be more apt to do the necessary research beforehand (as it were) than those who “buy on impulse”.

    But there are plenty of historical and contemporary examples where arranged marriages turn out badly, even very badly, because the basic “chemistry” of body, soul and spirit that would make an ideal marriage (or rather, fertile ground for one) isn’t there. I recall seeing a satirical (and pointed) series of paintings of the results of what happened in such a case among the European nobility. It sowed the seeds of adultery with someone who was more personally compatible. How many tragedies have been written portraying this, as much so as portraying “marry in haste, repent at leisure”!

    It is often claimed – most incorrectly – that in biblical Israel arranged marriages were the rule. Nothing could be further from the truth. In those days love marriages were the ideal, yet in the light of other, “practical” concerns; everyone who was affected got involved (the couple, both sets of parents, older siblings); and the bride had the final say as the one most intimately affected. The Song of Songs portrays such an ideal marriage, and it isn’t an arranged one. It starts with love of the spirit, soul and body, in that order, motivating courtship by Solomon. But Shulamite’s brothers had a strong role in making and keeping her ready for that courtship, as did her own character, until she was able to choose the right man for the right reasons at the right time. And after that, there was a mutual commitment “as strong as death”. (It’s sometimes thought that Shulamite died, possibly in childbirth, before Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh.)

    To demonstrate all that requires an essay, or a whole commentary, and while I’ve done such a commentary online, it isn’t my place to advertise it here. But if you (Mr. Smith) want to know where to look for such background information, please let me know! 🙂

  3. Norbert

    A while back I viewed a documentary on arranged marriages that involved the children of immigrants to Canada that came from India. It surveyed a large group who chose to have their tradional arranged marriaged instead of finding their “soul mate”. Even though they freely had the option to persue the latter because they were very much culturally adapted to North American lifestyle too.

    One statistic it pointed out was the divorce rate “here” with those children is not very much different to those of traditional North American marriages.

    I remember a rather thought provoking comment from the show on how that culture viewed and compared the two different styles of marriages. It went something like this:

    “In the west you have learned to marry the women you love, in the east we learn to love the women we marry.”

    Which pretty much reflects the the thoughts in a song from an entertaining clip in one of my favorite movies. 🙂

    Personally I believe there is a huge difference between the greater type of love mentioned in the bible and romantic love. The former will never fail while the latter statistically has been ending in a 50% divorce rate. Also I’m of the opinion the pursuit of romantic love has the possiblity of becoming an idol, where it could be said buyer beware (1Jn 5:21).

  4. Hi Norbert,

    With Mr. Smith’s indulgence: the Bible doesn’t teach “learning to love the woman you marry” without the necessary prelude. But neither does it teach “learming to marry the woman you love”, and stopping there. Consistently – and I mean from God’s own example with Israel and the Church downward – marriage starts with love, not love with marriage. But the cycle doesn’t stop there with either God or humanity in the Bible. You grow to marry the woman you love and then grow to love the woman you marry – if you follow me.

    Ever notice that east and west of the Promised Land, people have tended to go to opposite extremes compared to what the Bible teaches on any given subject, the West to one extreme, the East to the other? I have. Here’s one example. We may have a 50% divorce rate in the modern West, but one reason is that the West’s understanding of love has degenerated largely to lust. On the other hand, how willing are the Easterners to concede that maybe 50% of their marriages are far less than they could’ve been, and that they often are more about honor and expediency than about love and affection? Just what I could tell you from reading about Saudi Arabian marriages (not all that far east of Jerusalem) would illustrate my point very well. (Hindu culture has a more natural view of marriage perhaps, but that’s rather surprising to me given the intense and carnal sexuality of their religious mythology.)

    Let the buyer beware indeed, but also, let the Bible student beware of this world’s special pleading.

  5. Isis

    We last longer cause we marry for compatibility,NOT love.Love ALMOST ALWAYS comes afterwords,as long as your compatible.We were WAY ahead of eharmony.Not to mention feminism basically ruined American/Netherland women,religious or not.

  6. A mail-order bride,and proudly married for 14 years.

    That’s the 98′ international K1 (that’s the form we have to fill out) number’s.The number is now estimated at either 20,000 or 200,000,something with A 2,and that was around 2004.and the number of lasting m.o.b. marriges is up from 80%,to 92%.Marriage is more than love.I once had 2 friend’s who married ion haste,JUST cause they were in love.Without talking of kids,if she was going to continue working outside the household,kids,and(my favorite)religion.I can see why in certain countries they don’t last long.Lust is not love,and marriage is more than ”ooh,I love you so much i wish i was stuck to your hip.” You got to have a lot in common.please excuse english.

  7. Thanks, both of you, for your perspectives. The fact that romantic attraction, though not wrong, can be very deceptive is something that figures much into the pre-marital relationship counseling that we do in our Church. It can be quite a challenge to help a couple look at things — and their prospects, plans, principles, etc. — without the rose-colored glasses that romantic feelings tend to foist upon people.

    Thanks, again!

  8. Loving Life

    The Universal truth about human nature; luv can nver B forcd, bought, arranged, sold, or willed into being. Happiness in marriage is based on luv & luv is based on shared values, neither can B negotiated or purchased. When U look @ URself N the mirror & understand 2 of the most precious human experiences, luv & sex, have b…een traded as if they were commodities, U can’t possibly hold UR head up high & celebrate UR success.
    People often subscribe to the “I want it now” theory, ignoring that in life, almost everything worth having has to be worked for. But some people have no desire to work for anything. They resist the idea of bettering themselves or striving to earn the love of a truly remarkable person, convincing themselves that they don’t have to do anything special. Thank the LORD that not all people think this way but the people that do are just pure ignorant and have no MORALS to speak of.
    People don’t seem to understand that love has to be earned, and that anyone with a truly happy marriage has done some very real things to deserve it, none of which includes giving away the two most precious human experiences of love and sex. How can you put a price tag on that and how can you be proud of what you’ve done and still hold you’re head up high?? Bottom line, you can’t!!

  9. FYI to commenters: I cannot allow comments that include ads or links to “services” for mail-order brides, as I do not have the time nor resources to verify that the links provided are legitimate and not harmful. If you wish to post a thought or comment, please do so with no links. Rather than take the time to edit them, I will need to delete them. No disrespect intended, and thanks for your consideration.

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