How to Meet and Marry a Man in Kazakhstan

No, not this way! I’m not sure if this works for the expat girls.

My friends here are constantly teasing me for my, umm, constant talk about boys.

“Do you really want to be an oil wife?” Molly asks me, as she pauses in her story of the expat wives. Bored expat wives, see, meet in the mornings at the local cafe and complain over a vast spread of pastries about the travails of vacations, busy husbands, imported food, and discount liposuction.

I nod. I know the issues, but from my view as a working girl spending long days at work and on the buses, it sure seems nice!

So when I got home from work today, I walked in the door, nudging the eager dog to the side. I took off my fur boots. And unwrapped my coat. And scarf. And hat. And outercoat. And threw them all over a chair in the kitchen. Molly was stirring a batch of stew as Anne washed dishes, and Anne was giggling.

“I need a husband, soon!” Molly told me.

I look up in surprise. Anne’s always chastising me for talking about eligible young men, and Molly is the patient one, telling me to wait for a man in God’s timing. (Which I may not be persuaded by, given wider shifts in society, but…)

“What happened?” I ask, pulling the headphones from my ears and tucking away my music player.

“She’s got six months!” Anne grins as she rinses out a flowered mug.

Molly’s an international exchange student, and wants to stay in Kazakhstan this summer. But she’s just learned that she’ll need to leave as soon as her student visa expires in May, and they’re not allowing extensions.

“So,” she grins, “I need to find and marry a husband before the school year ends.”

When I ask why, Molly says she’d love to stay here forever–but not in classes. Her only options seem to be starting her own business, marrying a local guy, or marrying a nice foreigner with a long-term visa.

This starts a discussion of all the eligible men we know. There’s a rather taciturn European guy with a grizzly face, maybe fifty-five. There are several local boys in their late teens–but we’re all in our twenties. I’ve met a few overweight math professors in their forties, who enjoy extended discussions about computing and Starcraft.

But Molly’s not impressed by any of them.

“Well, you’ve only got six months,” I chastise, putting on the tea kettle. “You can’t be picky!”

I suggest church hopping so that she can view all the available men in her demographic. Also! I say, I’ve had a lot of success with awkward taxi drivers asking for my hand in marriage, and some good conversations with slightly overweight IT guys who smell funny. And there are teenage boys cruising for a green card. These things can’t be ruled out when you’re on a dating deadline.

But Mollly rejects all of these ideas.

“Misha?” I ask. He’s an extremely handsome young man with tan skin and glowing white teeth, who attends the local Russian church.

Molly shakes her head, “He knows he’s good looking.” This is true. Misha has that way of lounging around in the pews, giving off the vibe that he knows just how beautiful, tan, Christian, and muscular he is.

But I’m a helpful person. I grab a stack of Molly’s language note-cards and sit down at the table. “Great. So what are your criteria?”

“Christian.” She’s emphatic on this. I shrug a little — I’m not convinced this is necessary, since I read Rodney Stark on the benefits of Christian women marrying Romans, back in the day.

“So no missionary dating?” I ask, just to make sure.

Nooo!” Molly and Anne say together, with shocked faces.

“And not too short,” Molly continues, “…and we need things in common.”

I nod, scribbling. “What about age?” I ask.

She decides she needs a guy older than 25, but younger than 40, and “ideally, an expat who loves the Lord.”

“What about a local young man?” I press. “A taxi driver? A student?”

“Well, he needs to speak some English.” She adds some salt to her stew, thoughtfully.

“He? What about a woman?” I tease.

“No!” she says. “He needs to be essentially man…”

I raise my eyebrows. Molly knows I think arranged marriages are great, so she quickly adds: “And I’d prefer a love match. A guy who is nice to his sisters, that’s always a good sign.”

So, I read my list back to her: it sounds like she wants a working guy in his early thirties, not too pretty, kind to his sisters, loves her, Jesus, and travel, speaks English, and has things vaguely “in common.”

As with my my friend Sunlight in Mongolia, it’s good to know what you want, right? And Molly’s an amazing person – smart and well educated, beautiful and devoted to service. A great cook, and she knits lovely scarves.

There has to be… someone, right? But when we compare this list to all the Christian guys we know here, they’re all at home, married with babies. (I guess it’s natural that a good marriage would form someone into desirable husband or wife material…)

“What about polygamy?” I helpfully suggest. After all, if there are 3 Christian girls for every 2 Christian guys, and “God has someone for everyone,” and we’re not to date outside the faith–well, at some point He’ll give several female someones to one male someone. Right?

Molly gives me the evil eye. Apparently not.

I decide to change tactics: “Okay… so how are we going to find him?”

We discuss the possibilities: hanging out at coffee shops, church-hopping for maximum exposure, telling all our friends, soliciting taxi drivers.

“Perhaps you should walk around in high heels and carrying a Kazakh bible!” I helpfully suggest. It sends all the right signals… available, pretty, locally-interested, Christian.

Anne looks over in surprise. “I shouldn’t think that would be necessary.” She furrows her brows, concerned that a Christian guy should be above such things.

And Molly also shakes her head, telling us that the soup is ready, and we sit down to eat.

If it’s two out of three, then two of us should get married someday, right? They’re both lovely girls, and I’m willing to sit this one out if it means they can both find the perfect Christian man….

1 Comment

  1. beautiful, quick wit, insightful, good with words…sounds like the writer of this blog might be quite a good catch for one of those guys as well 😀

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