Once again, the annual Encounters International Halloween Party was fun for everyone! Since many of out of town clients were unable to attend, here are some pictures of the ladies who attended in costume. Of course, I have included before and after images so everyone will know who they are. Just 'mouseover' for the before and after effect.
Natalia Zhuravliova (on the far right) arranged to travel from her home in Moscow to Bethesda to attend the party. (Isn't it the indication of her commitment to our program and the desire to succeed?) Natalia said that she would have made her costume in Russia and brought it with her had she known about EI tradition to have a Halloween party at this time of the year. I gave her the standard may-be-next-year response but than I realized that most probably she will be attending next year EI Halloween party as one half of a happily engaged or married couple-whether in costu
When prospective male clients talk to me about joining Encounters International, one of the most popular questions is on the subject of meeting Russian ladies living in the USA. In some cases, they believe that trip to Russia presents too much risk or expense. Actually, there is nothing wrong with this view of the situation. Of course, I always advise them of the fact that there are more available Russian ladies in Russia or Ukraine than in the USA!
Having said that I would like to give you some most recent examples of successful matches made during our Saturday Club socials in Bethesda or other Maryland locations. These examples are the evidence that matches, engagements and ultimately marriages do happen without travel overseas!
and Elvira Borodetskaya (met at EI swimming pool party in June, married
July, 31) and Tom Light and Toma
Solodilina (met at the last Halloween party in October) are examples
of the "backyard" matches. Like many other local ladies they
joined Encounters International on the day of one of the Saturday Club
Socials or just a few days earlier. I did the in-office interview and
video tape interview. As soon as I placed each lady in the on line database,
I was notified by each that they should be added to the "Recently
Matched" web site section instead! What a wonderful problem to deal
These two examples are a sample of what can happen at a Saturday Club Social. Not only are these couples equally matched with their life expectations and values, but they had an extra advantage. After I introduced them (based on what I knew to be their common views and values), they had the opportunity to experience the instant 'chemistry' and 'body language' first hand. These are signs that nobody can miss.
The usual follow up questions from EI prospective clients is about the need to live in the metro Washington, DC area to meet the ladies at Encounters International. It is not necessary to live close to EI office in Bethesda, MD to meet the woman of your dreams. (Of course, it is advisable that you plan at least one visit to one of our exclusive Saturday Club Socials.)
Elizaveta Zhigalova, joined EI in March of 2001 from Washington, DC. She moved to Denver, Colorado three weeks ago to join there one of EI clients, who saw her in EI database, contacted her and offered to meet in his home town. This first meeting was a success. It followed by a number of other meetings and the Elizsveta's decision to move to Colorado.
ElenaVladimirova lived in Atlanta, Georgia, when she joined EI almost a year ago, in December 2000. One of EI members from Virginia noticed her in the database immediately and contacted her. The fact of the matter was that he had already developed the relationship with a lady from Moscow, purchased his ticket and was ready to go and meet her there. At the same time he increasingly enjoyed talking with Elena Vladimirova over the phone. His Moscow trip was the only interruption in their regular communication and he new that he was missing that. No wonder that he came back from Moscow "empty handed". And he did not care, because he could meet Elena without delay. This time he purchased the ticket to Atlanta and they met for the first time. Atlanta meeting with Elena was much more satisfying than all the dates that he had in Moscow earlier. The shorter the longer of it, Elena Vladimirova has moved recently to Virginia to be closer to my client.
Although both Elizaveta and Elena are on the 'Recently Matched' list,
they are technically not engaged yet, and I can not place their photos
here as engaged couples so far. I know it will only be a matter of time
before the question is popped to each of these beautiful ladies.
Don Skalitzky (San Diego,CA) it took one year of dating Zhanna Bukina
(Arlington, VA) before he he decided that she was the right person for
him. They are an example of a successful cross-country meeting and marriage.
(Click on photo to read their story). Their story shows that Don was concerned
about finding the right person. But, equally important, was that Zhanna
was committed to him and not in a hurry to marry the first American man
she met. Zhanna relocated to the west coast to be with Don over one year
ago. Usually the ladies keep in touch with me as their life progresses.
A few weeks ago, Zhanna sent me this note about her life in California
"This is just a note to say Hello and let you know that we are doing great. Don and I are getting ready to celebrate our first wedding anniversary this October. Now, I am fully incorporated into my new life in California. I started working - teaching little children music and giving Russian language lessons. I am also doing some translations and singing in an Orthodox church choir, as I did in D.C . Don is as wonderful as ever! Thank you for getting us in touch with each other!!!
Obviously, in every long distance relationship, someone is going to have to relocate. When the lady is in Moscow or Kiev, it is easy to know who will relocate. Even within the USA, in most cases, the lady will be the one moving to join her fiancée or husband.
There are a few cases where the lady does not relocate. The man decides
it is better for him to relocate to be with her. There are a number of
noble reasons for this generous compromise. Here is one example.
Valentina Stepanova lives in Colorado. She recently became engaged to Porter Hamphry one of my local clients. Shortly, after the official engagement announcement, Porter let me know that he had decided to sell his beautiful Bethesda home and move to Colorado.
As you look around the Internet at different matchmaking websites, you
will find that they are either a 'local' agency or an 'overseas' agency.
By that I mean that "they" will imply that one method (obviously,
the one they offer) is the best way to achieve your goal. For example,
an agency in Russia will want to convince you that overseas travel to
Russia is the best (maybe only) way to meet the woman of your dreams.
Whereas, the local agency wants to let you know that staying inside the
USA for your search is a much better option. It is very confusing, isn't
The bottom line is that Encounters International provides our clients with access to both methods. Unlike the one-dimensional agencies, you are not forced to pursue one specific direction when you join Encounters International! I find most clients determine a hybrid of the two methods (USA and Russia/Ukraine) works best for them.
Still some clients come to us convinced that one method of meeting their goal is absolutely the best. Then, they have a change of heart, so to speak. Fortunately, our clients find the freedom to adjust our program to meet their needs and not the other way around! This flexibility at Encounters International means that our clients can meet and marry the woman of their dreams without changing agencies several times, or wasting time, money and emotions. Our success is based on meeting your individual needs; not requiring you to follow rigid agency guidelines. Your permanent success is based on our unique ability to offer clients the resources they need and a sincere desire for your success.
Is it no surprise to anyone that a new marriage contains stress. The added pressure of different, often misunderstood cultures, can occasionally be very difficult to endure. But, even before the marriage vows are spoken, there are unique circumstances that happen in a Russian-American relation. Not the least of which is the 90-day K1 Fiancée Visa period. This is when the engaged couple is intensely involved in the decision making process while she is visiting him in the USA.
I have observed that there is another equally stressful period experienced during the six months following the marriage date. This is the time when the couple has to adapt to a new life together. It might be filled with situations that neither partner would have anticipated.
For my part, I am always willing to listen and help when I can. Although, often it seems inappropriate for me to do so. I may be seen as a biased outside person interfering with the family business of others. Furthermore, knowing each party on a personal basis makes it difficult for me to jump into family issues.
Just because I don't get called upon for help does not mean that outside help is not needed. What sets Encounters International apart from every other agency is our concern for the well-being of clients before and after a successful match is made. Therefore, I want to introduce Elena Woodhouse, a highly experienced professional Russian-American relationship counselor.
I have known Elena for many years. When my clients were seeking outside professional counseling services, I have referred them to her. Feedback from these clients has been nothing but positive. All referred clients have reported significant improvements in their relationships thanks to Elena's expertise. In fact, all were happy with the results of working with Elena.
Russian ladies, no matter how fluent in English or familiar with American culture, are generally reluctant to the premise of outside counseling. In their minds, this idea of seeing a counselor is often viewed as a sign of a weakens or "showing dirty laundry" . Russian woman have a strong desire to retain family business within the bond of marriage. While this is a respectful trait, it is sometimes not a helpful one.
Nevertheless, those ladies who worked with Elena have reported back to me that they started understanding their husbands much better. It was easier for them to express their feelings - in their native language - to someone familiar with their culture and therefore not biased.. Likewise, the husbands have told me that they are able to approach the relationship (and attendant issues) with a new clarity and understanding.
Elena is a licensed counselor based in Florida and specializing in the following area:
Russian Women - Providing a safe place for them and their children to express concerns in their native language.
American Men - Aiding with concerns about their developing relationship with Russian and Ukrainian women.
Russian Women and American Men - Helping couples in the areas of adaptation problems, existential frustrations, and cross-cultural issues.
I believe that Elena's services will be helpful to anybody who may be experiencing confusing issues in their relationships. Therefore, Encounters International clients are entitled to one hour of her services, via telephone, for no cost. In addition, follow on services are provided at a discount rate for all EI clients.
It is not necessary that you live in Florida to benefit from Elena's expertise. In fact, it is not even necessary that you both be in the USA. Elena provides telephone based counseling, translation, and conferencing services for clients in the USA and overseas. Again, if you use any of these services, ask for a special rate for Encounters International clients.
I know that the idea of finding a marriage counselor before a marriage is a bit like the guy who says, "I am looking for my next ex-wife." Like a discussion of prenuptial agreements, it can be seen as somewhat fatalistic.
However, when a relationship crisis hits home, it is good to have a known resource available. I think it is similar to posting the local emergency telephone numbers on your refrigerator door. It does not mean that you expect something bad to happen. It makes things simpler and faster-when it counts- in the time of emergency!
An open and honest disclosure of the facts and genuine care about the well-being of the couples after the match is made is one reason that the divorce rate of Encounters International matched couples is significantly lower than other agencies (assuming they will tell you). In fact, our rate of unsuccessful marriages is exponentially lower than either the American or Russian divorce statistics!