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Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the overwhelming majority of mixed unions (aside from Russian émigrés who married Americans) involved American men and Russian women.Though the Soviet authorities, after years of refusals, delays, and harassment, might reluctantly grant exit visas to the Russian wives of foreigners, getting permission for a man to leave was far more difficult.Since the Revolution, Civil War, collectivization, famines, the gulag and above all World War II had led to a drastic demographic skew in which women considerably outnumbered men, a Russian man's marriage to it foreigner and subsequent departure meant that one less man was available for Russian women.Compulsory military service and the fact that men were more likely than women to have access to classified information also made it more difficult to obtain an exit visa for a foreign husband."She knows how to amuse herself in her spare time," added Helen's husband Pavel."She isn't always yelling at me to help change every light bulb, or to entertain her every single minute." American honesty is a very highly valued quality that always amazes me," said Anatoly, "that Beverly doesn't know how to lie."Muriel is much more direct and honest than most Russian girls," Sergei said of his wife.
One American wife who told her Russian husband about a one-night stand she had had after too many drinks during a business trip was shocked when he demanded a divorce." Unscathed by American feminism, the Russians still open doors, hold coats, pay a woman compliments, pick up the check in a restaurant, and feel it is their role to take care of the "weaker sex." For American women accustomed to males cowed by feminist rhetoric, this Russian protectiveness can have great appeal.