Welcoming Home Your
New Foreign Bride!
Some helpful advice for the most critical time in your courtship!
By the time your foreign fiancee arrives, most International Marriage Agencies figure their job is done and have little to offer
until after the two of you have married and it's time to adjust her status. Many agencies offer a kit or service to help you file
the appropriate documents that will inevitably allow her to gain temporary citizenship, open a bank account, drive a car, work and
travel outside of the country. But what about that 90 day "trial" period which is the whole point of petitioning for a fiancee visa
versus a spousal visa? (Spousal visas are applicable when the couple has already married in her country before her first arrival
It's easy to take for granted the enormous change your girl's life will undergo after joining you in your country. Having spent months
getting a fiancee visa and growing your relationship, men often underestimate the bitter-sweet range of emotions girls experience
in those precious first few months of K-1 time. Foreign women must reconcile the joy of being with their man and the creation of
a new family and life foundation with the sadness around leaving home, families, friends, jobs - basically all that is familiar to
them in order to forge a new life in a completely strange world. While many of us expect to see girls getting off the plane kissing
the ground shouting "WOO-HOO! I made it!" What we actually witness is far from the celebration we were hoping for. She's strangely
quiet and claims to be tired a lot. She's tense - so unlike the relaxed, easy-going girl you fell in love with. Feeling the need
to call home every day she finds it hard to focus on daily events in your home. You notice she's not eating much and obviously not
very relaxed in her new surroundings. You want to show off your new bride-to-be to everyone you know but she begs you to hold off
on social situations. This is so NOT what you were expecting. Nothing you do seems to be right.
The 90 day K-1 fiancee visa period is probably the most critical time of your whole relationship to this point. Trust me when I tell
you - it's ALL about her. Failure to help your girl adjust to her new life means no happy ending to the love story you have worked
so diligently to have in the first place. The whole key to success here is simple - but not so simple. You must put yourself entirely
in her shoes and do what you would need to have done were you the one who just relocated. Anything less gets you nothing but a very
stressed, very freaked out fiancee.
Once my foreign fiancee arrives, what can I do to help her feel comfortable in her new home?
There are many things you can easily do to help your fiancee relax and adjust to her new home, but none more important than allowing
her as much room and time as she needs to feel she belongs here, in your home, your country, and with you. Here are some good steps
1. BEFORE SHE ARRIVES - BUY HER A ROUND-TRIP TICKET FROM HER COUNTRY TO YOURS AND BACK - WITH THE RETURN TRIP DATE RIGHT AROUND THE
END OF HER 90 DAY FIANCEE VISA PERIOD.
Yes, that's right. Do exactly this. Of course you don't want her to return but to stay on with you happy and in love. It is critical
- absolutely crucial - however, to take pressure off of her by letting her (and her family) know that she is in charge of what
happens to her and her child the whole time she's here. She is not a prisoner. Tell her you love her, and did all of this to be
together forever but - bottom line - if she cannot stay you will help her return to her family. Tell her you will be crushed -
but of course you ultimately want what is best for her and her child. Then tell her to just relax, don't think about marriage
right away, don't make plans for anything permanent until she is ready. Ask her to try and find things she likes and to just enjoy
her time here. Take the pressure of this enormous life change completely off her shoulders. Your reward will be a happy girl who
feels empowered and in charge of her circumstances.
2. ALLOW HER TO PERSONALIZE YOUR LIVING SPACE.
Take her to Sears, Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Linens and Things, Kohls, Pier One or some similar store and tell her to buy
new dishes, new curtains, cooking utensils, blankets, shower curtains, a painting, candles - whatever! Whether you need the items
or not appoint her with the task of updating your furnishings so she begins to feel she is living in HER space and not yours.
This gives her a pleasant distraction from all the emotional conflict going through her head. Begin the process of showing her
where to get the things she needs for your new family. Women in transition need this reference.
Pull out all the stops for your new family! Be patient and understanding and give them time to feel at home. Those first 90 days
are ALL about her!
3. DON'T IMPOSE YOUR UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE ON HER OR HER CHILD.
One mistake I definitely made right away after Viktoria and Sergei arrived was expecting them to be able to handle my typical
American diet. Something as simple as Dominos Pizza may be a little much for your girl at first, though she'll definitely crave
it eventually. Foreign women will be used to their native diets and chances are if we let them buy whatever food they want they'll
cook us some tasty and healthier dishes than we've had in a long time. Find a grocery store with a large produce section. Many
cities have international food stores that carry spices and such that we don't find in the more mainstream stores. If you're lucky
enough to have a "Garden Fresh" or Trader Joe's - these offer more choices for fish and veggies and - by the way - attract a culturally
diverse customer base. It might be interesting for her to hear people talking her language as they shop nearby. Especially if
she has a child, let her cook what they are used to eating and don't force micro- waved dinners on them. If your girl is from
Russia or Ukraine you'll be begging for borscht, I promise.
4. BE A FRIEND TO HER CHILD.
Understand her child's needs as they relate to school and social behavior. Help her child find playmates. (But be gentle not to
overwhelm her child with too many introductions.) Visit with the child's new school principal to prepare the staff for his/her
specific needs as an ESL (English as a Second Language) student. Ask your local library if they can borrow books in your fiancee's
native language from other libraries in your state. Show your new fiancee right away the good father you plan to be. Do not be
too disciplinary right away. Ease the child into a new routine of expectations. Don't try to redefine acceptable versus unacceptable
behaviors all at once right away. Believe me, as her child goes, so shall you all go.
5. HELP HER COMMUNICATE WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
Buy or make her a Russian keyboard and download fonts and software (like those available free at www.loveme. com) that allow her
to send and receive emails in her own language. Foreign television programs can be viewed over the internet and are often available
from cable or satellite dish services. Buy phone cards or calling plans that give you great rates for her country, enabling her
to call home frequently. (See the index in our Helpful Links page for reliable phone card and long distance calling services.)
Look for forums on the internet for brides from her country. They exist! These can provide tremendous support from women who have
already made the transition. Pull out all the stops! Your future together depends on her successful adjustment to life in America.
6. ANTICIPATE UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.
Plan to have health and dental insurance available for your fiancee and any children. Have a savings account with a little tucked
away for anything unexpected. It is important for you to be able to provide a secure environment to alleviate stress in the event
of any special considerations, like a child falling off a bike and breaking an arm, or someone getting a bad toothache. This is
critical. Remember that you are solely responsible for the well-being of any foreign citizen you petition.
7. PREPARE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR HER ARRIVAL.
Help those closest to you understand the realities of your lady's relocation. Tell them she may be a little shy at first because
of her English level. If you have adult children you must settle any personal financial/inheritance/insurance issues before she
arrives to assure good relations. Be very sensitive that she may not feel she fits into your social circle right away. Stand by
her side when others are around, avoid putting her in awkward social situations and help others to get to know her. Don't leave
her side until you know she is comfortable talking with the people around her. Once her true charm and personality come out, they
will all understand perfectly why you tried so hard to find her in the first place.
8. GIVE HER ACCESS TO MONEY AND EXPECT HER TO SHOP A LITTLE.
Guys will occasionally try to control spending by limiting a fiancee's access to money. This is usually a bad idea. Intelligent,
resourceful, independent women aren't going to enjoy feeling like a kid asking for an allowance. You can help your thrifty foreign
girl out by not refusing her money, rather by helping know where to find a good deal. Most foreign women will be all over that.
One area of confusion during fiancee visa time happens when your girl needs to buy clothing for herself or her child, especially
if she is from the Former Soviet Union. Clothing in the FSU is typically very expensive. When she therefore goes shopping for
a jacket, for example, she would expect to spend $100 or more easily here just as she would back home. We may balk at spending
large amounts unnecessarily since we usually know where to find a suitable bargain but our girl may think we're being stubborn
or worse - cheap! Walk into any mall and you'll find plenty of clothing stores that cater to younger, fashion-minded women on
a budget. Try Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, Forever 21 to name a few. These are great places to find blouses, skirts and accessories
for under $30 (and clearance rack items for even less) and many are - get this - made in America! Again, take your girl to Target,
Kohls, Walmart - let her see from the beginning that everyday clothes can be purchased easily and inexpensively. Many foreign
women don't seek to spend unnecessarily but will need access to money in order to buy the things they would normally buy on a
weekly basis. Be sure to allow for this!