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Author Topic: Jen, I have a Question . . .  (Read 4886 times)

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Jen, I have a Question . . .
« on: July 16, 2007, 10:08:32 PM »
I own a small consulting practice. Earlier, when I was a department head for large corporations, they were constantly sending me to various management training courses. One of the axioms I hear ALL THE TIME - for years now is: Think outside the box. There are even some cute little classroom exercises to illustrate the point.

It seems that, at least in corporate America (and elsewhere - I have consulted in more than a dozen countries and lived in a couple - and they all promote the same idea) - they WANT people to exercise creativity in their problem-solving. They want people to engage in ranges of options from traditional to radically non-traditional - and then to work toward a best-case solution which may be somewhere in between.

One way of looking at those of us who sought relationships with women from foreign countries is - those people were putting into practice the concept of "thinking outside the box." The same characteristic which is sought after and rewarded in many professions - but to this point, vilified in most "scholarly articles" and media when it comes to seeking a foreign wife.

What are the dynamics, do you suppose, which might create that condition?

Is my foundational premise that some, maybe many, who seek this route are simply examining and pursuing the road less traveled (outside the box)?

Why is that good for business relationships - but vilified in romantic relationships?

Something I recall from one of the many, many, MANY management courses is - anytime someone reacts to a stimulus in a manner which is out of proportion - there is more to the reaction then meets the eye. Other dynamics are at work which are not readily apparent.

Anyway - does this 'fit' in any way into your research? If so, I would surely be interested in a well-constructed and logical position to explain it. The current state of affairs seems non sequitor to me - so I seek some form of convergence.

Can you help?

- Dan

Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2007, 04:23:06 AM »
Hey Dan,

I think this is a very interesting question and I have some ideas about it though I'm not sure I have a satisfying answer...let me mull it over and I'll write more when I am back in town tomorrow.

j.

Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2007, 08:05:35 AM »
Hi Dan,

This was a really interesting post, which touches on some themes in which I am very interested.  I will not have my answer developed until I complete the research and writing process, but I thought I'd share a few half-formed thoughts and see what you think...

It seems to me that some of it must have to do with our (American) contemporary ideas about romance. Even though everyone knows at some level that finding someone to marry is a complicated thing with various aspects to consider, I would say that there is still an ideal that says that true love just "happens." You can't make it happen, you can only be open to it perhaps. "Fate" determines whether you meet your "soulmate." Now, I'm sure that many men who go to the FSU to search for a wife feel exactly this way about what they are doing. But perhaps the fact that they are making some active calculations about how to further the process -- what you called "thinking outside of the box" -- gives others a feeling that this can't be the kind of "real" love that just "happens" in a "natural" way.  Probably some similar ideas are attached to all kinds of internet acquaintance/matchmaking services/etc. -- but doing it close to home has become so popular that perhaps people don't find it surprising anymore.

You wrote: "The same characteristic which is sought after and rewarded in many professions - but to this point, vilified in most "scholarly articles" and media when it comes to seeking a foreign wife...Why is that good for business relationships - but vilified in romantic relationships?"  An interesting point that has been discussed in some sociological and anthropological writing -- and this is maybe obvious but I think it is worth a mention -- is the idea that (particularly in industrialized, capitalist, western countries) we tend to envision a strong boundary between our public/work/business/commercial lives and our private/domestic lives, distinguishing which behaviors and sentiments are appropriate for which (e.g., competition and calculation in one; unconditional love, support, and nurturing in the other).  In fact, things are always more complicated in life as it is lived;  we have to think about budgets and wills in our family lives, and we have good friends at work and might care deeply about our professional lives.  So it is not all black and white. Still, it may be the case indeed that qualities that are sought after in the work world might seem "out of place" when people are thinking about their private/romantic lives. Let me clear about the fact that I am NOT suggesting that AM who go abroad to look for romance are doing something in a commercial or overly calculating way. I am simply pointing out that people can get itchy when their familiar categories get challenged, which of course happens all the time. This has been discussed in particular by sociologists Arlie Hochschild (Berkeley) and Viviana Zelizer (Princeton).

I also think that the transnational aspect of it has something to do with it. Given the importance of trafficking issues in the policy world these days, it does seem that the border-crossing involved in international dating sets off bells by association:  sex tourism, prostitution, labor scams, etc. Although I think it is important to address special vulnerabilities that immigrant women in the US may have because of their visa status (however they come here), it does seem to me that the fact that national borders are crossed is, in itself, associated with some anxieties. I think I saw the point made on a board somewhere that in accounts of international dating/marriage, a direct link is often made with the "MOBs" of the early 20th century, while the connection of today's international modes of acquaintance with the broader phenomenon of internet correspondence is not so emphasized -- which would create a somewhat different frame of reference.

Anyway, I'm not sure how helpful this is but I'm curious to hear what you think.

J.


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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2007, 10:26:59 AM »
Jen,

In almost all literature the subject is men seeking foreign partners, and the issues that are linked to that. In your research, will you include what challenges and prejudices women seeking foreign partners face ? While this aspect is almost not present here, I know this exists as well. Probably it would even make a more interesting subject of study.
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Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2007, 10:30:52 AM »
Hi Shadow,

Well, yes, I will try to look at both sides. Right now, of course, I am looking more at the men's side because -- well, that's obviously appropriate on this site, and because I am based in the U.S. right now. However, I have interviewed Russian women while in Russia and have met a few couples here in the U.S., too, and hoping to meet more.  If you have any suggestions/comments to make on that, or anywhere those issues have been discussed more on this board, please do.

j.

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2007, 10:42:12 AM »
Hi Dan,

This was a really interesting post, which touches on some themes in which I am very interested.  I will not have my answer developed until I complete the research and writing process, but I thought I'd share a few half-formed thoughts and see what you think...

It seems to me that some of it must have to do with our (American) contemporary ideas about romance. Even though everyone knows at some level that finding someone to marry is a complicated thing with various aspects to consider, I would say that there is still an ideal that says that true love just "happens." You can't make it happen, you can only be open to it perhaps. "Fate" determines whether you meet your "soulmate." Now, I'm sure that many men who go to the FSU to search for a wife feel exactly this way about what they are doing. But perhaps the fact that they are making some active calculations about how to further the process -- what you called "thinking outside of the box" -- gives others a feeling that this can't be the kind of "real" love that just "happens" in a "natural" way.  Probably some similar ideas are attached to all kinds of internet acquaintance/matchmaking services/etc. -- but doing it close to home has become so popular that perhaps people don't find it surprising anymore.

You wrote: "The same characteristic which is sought after and rewarded in many professions - but to this point, vilified in most "scholarly articles" and media when it comes to seeking a foreign wife...Why is that good for business relationships - but vilified in romantic relationships?"  An interesting point that has been discussed in some sociological and anthropological writing -- and this is maybe obvious but I think it is worth a mention -- is the idea that (particularly in industrialized, capitalist, western countries) we tend to envision a strong boundary between our public/work/business/commercial lives and our private/domestic lives, distinguishing which behaviors and sentiments are appropriate for which (e.g., competition and calculation in one; unconditional love, support, and nurturing in the other).  In fact, things are always more complicated in life as it is lived;  we have to think about budgets and wills in our family lives, and we have good friends at work and might care deeply about our professional lives.  So it is not all black and white. Still, it may be the case indeed that qualities that are sought after in the work world might seem "out of place" when people are thinking about their private/romantic lives. Let me clear about the fact that I am NOT suggesting that AM who go abroad to look for romance are doing something in a commercial or overly calculating way. I am simply pointing out that people can get itchy when their familiar categories get challenged, which of course happens all the time. This has been discussed in particular by sociologists Arlie Hochschild (Berkeley) and Viviana Zelizer (Princeton).

I also think that the transnational aspect of it has something to do with it. Given the importance of trafficking issues in the policy world these days, it does seem that the border-crossing involved in international dating sets off bells by association:  sex tourism, prostitution, labor scams, etc. Although I think it is important to address special vulnerabilities that immigrant women in the US may have because of their visa status (however they come here), it does seem to me that the fact that national borders are crossed is, in itself, associated with some anxieties. I think I saw the point made on a board somewhere that in accounts of international dating/marriage, a direct link is often made with the "MOBs" of the early 20th century, while the connection of today's international modes of acquaintance with the broader phenomenon of internet correspondence is not so emphasized -- which would create a somewhat different frame of reference.

Anyway, I'm not sure how helpful this is but I'm curious to hear what you think.

J.

Jen,

The TV production company which we will meet with produced a short documentary on the subject of "The History of Romantic Love". It was interesting to me to learn that much of what we have come to know as romantic love was begun within the past several hundred years. Prior to that, much more pragmatic interests ruled the coupling and unions of men and women.

I bring this up simply to point out that there is an evolving expectation of what is, and what is not, 'acceptable' rational for entering into marital unions - and what is OK today, may not have been considered socially acceptable at all a mere 300 years ago - or 300 years hence.

The rest of this falls into the category of 'stream of consciousness' because I cannot honestly say I have a well-developed vision of the argument(s) crafted right now - so take it for what its worth.

Anytime I hear the term "transnational" connected with an anxiety or fear, I see xenophobic edges. Maybe I am hallucinating, but I cannot recall a single instance where the fear or anxiety was followed with a rational and logical argument.

Having worked, and lived, overseas fairly extensively, my observation of the expatriate communities is that America is not nearly as heavily-represented as countries such as The Netherlands and Britain. For that matter, I recall reading something not long ago which provided statistics of international (actually, intercontinental - which is more telling) travel - and the US is FAR behind many countries in Europe. Why is this significant? Well, maybe it isn't - BUT - I think the fact that Americans tend to find everything they want within our own borders, leads to us not traveling outside those borders nearly so much as citizens of other countries. The international perspective, then, of we Americans is limited, to say the least.

If we, as a nation, are not internationally aware - and my personal experience is that we are not - then the possibility (at least) of a more xenophobic mindset takes shape, and xenophobia would undoubtedly play a role in motivation to limit foreigners of any sort from entering the country.

Next random thought is you reference the "complications" in real life. Not to diminish the point, but talking in terms of simple 'human factors' - it is my experience and belief that human beings are not disposed to be able to effectively manage complications well - whereas they can be supremely effective at working their way through simple (or simplified) problems with ease. The challenge, then, become taking the complex issue and disaggregating it into a set of simplified problems which can be managed individually. In fact, I believe that is a characteristic of effective consultants, and it applies in life as well. Admittedly, it is not always possible, but it is ALWAYS desirable. To a large extent, I see the role you play in a similar vein. There is a ton of data (let's not call it 'information') - and part of your role is to learn, decipher, SIMPLIFY (for effective understanding), and present. I don't mean to assume your role - and if misstated, please correct.

I bring this up because I often encounter passive resistance from people who are not really invested in problem-solving by their throwing up the smokescreen of "complications". OK - it is complicated. So where do we go from here? It is not enough to accept it as complicated - we need to do the hard work of breaking it into pieces that can be managed - and then solving them. Just my take.

OK - final random thought (for now, anyway). I have been trying to congeal some thoughts I've had about drawing parallels. If my description (following) fails to convey - let me know and I'll take another stab.

Back to the notion that other nations are more active in expatriate placements. If true, it follows that those countries (let's use The Netherlands and Britain) would have expatriate citizens marrying local women at a higher per capita rate than Americans. It would be interesting to try to gather some stats to prove/disprove the hypothesis. But to be meaningful, a couple of other parallels need to be drawn - and then compared.

For example - if it is true that Britain and The Netherlands have more per capita male expatriates - and those expats have a similar or higher marriage rate to foreign women than American expats - then the question becomes: Do those countries have the same, or similar, responses to this incursion of foreigners? Also, would it be possible to conduct a comparison of advancement, or maturity, of the feminist agendas in all of those countries? (I recognize the difficulty with that parallel - but still, it would have value IF it could be measured in some way).

Comparisons of the parallels would, I believe, be illuminating and educational.

OK - all for now. Sorry - no answers. Simply more 'issues' for debate/research.

- Dan

Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2007, 10:56:03 AM »
The TV production company which we will meet with produced a short documentary on the subject of "The History of Romantic Love". It was interesting to me to learn that much of what we have come to know as romantic love was begun within the past several hundred years. Prior to that, much more pragmatic interests ruled the coupling and unions of men and women.

I bring this up simply to point out that there is an evolving expectation of what is, and what is not, 'acceptable' rational for entering into marital unions - and what is OK today, may not have been considered socially acceptable at all a mere 300 years ago - or 300 years hence.


Yes. Another source along these lines is a recent book by an American historian:  Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.


Next random thought is you reference the "complications" in real life. Not to diminish the point, but talking in terms of simple 'human factors' - it is my experience and belief that human beings are not disposed to be able to effectively manage complications well - whereas they can be supremely effective at working their way through simple (or simplified) problems with ease. The challenge, then, become taking the complex issue and disaggregating it into a set of simplified problems which can be managed individually. In fact, I believe that is a characteristic of effective consultants, and it applies in life as well. Admittedly, it is not always possible, but it is ALWAYS desirable. To a large extent, I see the role you play in a similar vein. There is a ton of data (let's not call it 'information') - and part of your role is to learn, decipher, SIMPLIFY (for effective understanding), and present. I don't mean to assume your role - and if misstated, please correct.


Well yes, I guess that is basically correct. Re: my own role, I guess I'd prefer not the word "simplify" but something more like "distill."  There is definitely a winnowing process that involves looking at lots of material, identifying some key themes, developing an analysis of those, while trying not to entirely lose sight of the "bigger (messier) picture" with which one started. But anyway, if I understand where you are going with this, I agree that "complexity" should not be an excuse or a reason not to understand, but a challenge to work further.

j.

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2007, 01:54:27 PM »
Hi Shadow,

Well, yes, I will try to look at both sides. Right now, of course, I am looking more at the men's side because -- well, that's obviously appropriate on this site, and because I am based in the U.S. right now. However, I have interviewed Russian women while in Russia and have met a few couples here in the U.S., too, and hoping to meet more.  If you have any suggestions/comments to make on that, or anywhere those issues have been discussed more on this board, please do.

j.

"Jen,"

    I am also curious if you have looked into the opposite side of the coin where "American women" are searching and or married to foreign spouces. Here is a quote form another thread with the crux of my "questions".

Let's take a look at this another way. Do we ever hear about the American WOMEN who go through this process and marry FOREIGN MEN? Wouldn't they fall under the same umbrella...? Is anyone here aware of studies or literature which point to their pursuits in a similar light?
Food for thought,
ECR844


Offline Bruno

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2007, 10:21:52 PM »
Having worked, and lived, overseas fairly extensively, my observation of the expatriate communities is that America is not nearly as heavily-represented as countries such as The Netherlands and Britain. For that matter, I recall reading something not long ago which provided statistics of international (actually, intercontinental - which is more telling) travel - and the US is FAR behind many countries in Europe. Why is this significant? Well, maybe it isn't - BUT - I think the fact that Americans tend to find everything they want within our own borders, leads to us not traveling outside those borders nearly so much as citizens of other countries. The international perspective, then, of we Americans is limited, to say the least.

Dan, US is a big country... let say a huge one... Europe is build from a lot of very little country and a few medium one... limit ourself to our own country is like someone limiting himself to only New-York... a lot of European country have common border with 3, 4 or more country... are already multicultural ( by example, in Belgium, you have a Dutch speaking communauty, a French speaking and a German speaking... )

For us, go to a other country on the European continent is like for you when you make a fishing trip ( i speak about distance, i don't compare women to fish... fish are more easy to catch  ;) )

Offline purpletib

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007, 10:53:05 PM »

It seems to me that some of it must have to do with our (American) contemporary ideas about romance. Even though everyone knows at some level that finding someone to marry is a complicated thing with various aspects to consider, I would say that there is still an ideal that says that true love just "happens." You can't make it happen, you can only be open to it perhaps. "Fate" determines whether you meet your "soul-mate." Now, I'm sure that many men who go to the FSU to search for a wife feel exactly this way about what they are doing. But perhaps the fact that they are making some active calculations about how to further the process -- what you called "thinking outside of the box" -- gives others a feeling that this can't be the kind of "real" love that just "happens" in a "natural" way.  Probably some similar ideas are attached to all kinds of Internet acquaintance/matchmaking services/etc. -- but doing it close to home has become so popular that perhaps people don't find it surprising anymore.


As for my viewpoint on the issue of fate and soul-mate searching:

“Fate is what we make of it.”

“Each man is the architect of his own fate.”

“How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is.”

“Fate only takes you so far, then it's up to you to make it happen.”

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, It is a thing to be achieved."

So, at to your comment about AM seeking and planning to find a soul-mate in the FSU by "thinking outside of the box" and that by forcing it, it cannot be true love or fate, or however one wants to interpret it, these quotes sum up my thoughts on the issue.  By partaking on this venture, we are creating our own fates and destinies.  In most cases of successful individuals, it is the result of hard work, planning, and having a vision of where you see your life.  These people make their own fates.  If someone sees a goal that they want to achieve, and then pursues it, then ultimately achieves it, would you say that their results weren't the product of "real" success or fortune because that "just happens" or is "natural"?  Why should it be any different for love?  True love that "just happens" is the stuff of novels and movies.  Does it exist?  Sure.  But it is the exception to the rule.  That is why we idolize the idea in our stories and movies. 

I am new to this whole ordeal, and my purpose for the idea of seeking a FSUW is along these lines.  I have an idea in my head that true love does really exist, and that if I search hard enough, I can find my soul mate.  I am of Lithuanian decent and have always been fascinated by the FSU, its women, and culture.  I feel that seeking a person to share the rest of my life with in this place will be a long journey, but also the adventure of a lifetime.  It is something that I feel most people never achieve.  How many people seek out a soul mate, (I believe that there are many for each of us, not "just one") compared to how many simply "settle" for the mediocrity of the relationships that they have developed with the people that are in the immediate vicinity of their small worlds?  I have been through two long term relationships over the past 10 years straight, and both have failed for various reasons, partly of which has disenchanted me about my beliefs in how suitable AW are as "marriage material."  It seems to me that all the good girls get snagged up right out of high school or college, and what remains tends to be left for desire.  Could I search here for a soul-mate? Yes.  But I like the idea of the challenge this presents and the experiences I will gain from it by searching abroad.  The idea itself is rather romanticised.  Plus, most AW I feel do not share the passion that I do about the idea of a soul-mate.  At least women in the FSU are receptive to the idea of the romantic ideology of finding a soul mate in a WM.  Am I dreaming? I very well could be.  Could I be disillusioned?  Maybe.  But how many guys do I know that would be willing to take the journey that I see ahead of me? Almost none.  That alone I feel sets me apart.  Consider this my response to your question about why I am here.  8)



Another source along these lines is a recent book by an American historian:  Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.




It funny, Dan commented on the idea of romantic love only coming into play in marriage in the last 300 years, and that book is the first thing that came to mind.  I have not read it yet, but I would like to.  I believe there is a quote from the book or said research in the book that follows along the lines, "Marriage for love? What nonsense! It will destroy the institution of marriage!"  For the most part, considering the rampant divorce rates, isn't far from the truth!



Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2007, 07:22:58 AM »
"Jen,"

    I am also curious if you have looked into the opposite side of the coin where "American women" are searching and or married to foreign spouces. Here is a quote form another thread with the crux of my "questions".
 

I'm not really looking at this, although I agree that it would be interesting. I'm sure that this is happening through internet services, and perhaps in other ways...I can't say that I have heard anything specific about AW trying to meet men from specific countries or doing this in any numbers.  Of course, there are people who travel, etc., and end up meeting foreigners and marrying them by chance (as is sometimes the case with RW-AM couples)...Anyway, I do not know of any literature that treats the issue. Except by Lynn Visson, Wedded Strangers. This is an account of Russian-American couples, both RM-AW and AM-RW. It is a bit outdated by now, but there is a recent update with a chapter about people who meet through agencies. However, the book in general is about the cross-cultural issues that arise when Russians and Americans marry. Most of the subjects met one another during the Soviet period because the American was a student, diplomat or businessperson traveling to the USSR, or the Russian was a performer or someone else who was able to travel to the States back then. Anyway, this gives something of a perspective re: AW marrying foreigners (Russians). I don't know of anything else, off-hand.

Offline jen

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Re: Jen, I have a Question . . .
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2007, 07:29:48 AM »
It funny, Dan commented on the idea of romantic love only coming into play in marriage in the last 300 years, and that book is the first thing that came to mind.  I have not read it yet, but I would like to.  I believe there is a quote from the book or said research in the book that follows along the lines, "Marriage for love? What nonsense! It will destroy the institution of marriage!"  For the most part, considering the rampant divorce rates, isn't far from the truth!

Yes, that book has a ton of detailed history and it is a pretty interesting read. Here is the blurb from the back that contains the idea you were describing:

"At a moment when people are clamoring to protect 'traditional' marriage, this explosive book by a respected historian and marriage expert bluntly asks, 'What tradition?' Stephanie Coontz argues that the cherished nuclear family is a relatively new experiment. In this groundbreaking book she takes us on a journey from the marital intrigues of ancient Babylon to the torments of Victorian lovers to the debates over gay marriage today. She demonstrates that for five thousand years the idea of marrying for love would have been considered absurd and that when romance and intimacy entered the sphere of marriage in the nineteenth century, marriage became more fragile, if often more satisfying."

 

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