Category: "Marriage"


December 13th, 2010 — posted by Don

The Russian noun развод means divorce. It declines like this:


Many uses are very similar to the English use of the word:

После пятого развода Жа Жа Габор написала книгу «Как поймать мужика — как удержать мужика — как избавиться от мужика». After her fifth divorce ZsaZsa Gábor wrote the book “How to catch a man - How to Keep a man - How to get rid of a Man.”
После развода жизнь одновременно стала и легче и сложнее. After the divorce life became simultaneously easier and more complex.
Кристина Агилера и Джордан Брэтман сейчас в процессе развода. Christian Aguilera and Jordan Bratman are now in the process of divorcing.
В один из пяти разводов сейчас включаются материалы из социальной сети Facebook. (adapted from this source) Materials from the Facebook social network are now included in one of five divorces.
Развод моих родителей потряс мою веру в мудрость и доброту человечества. The divorce of my parents shook my faith in the wisdom and goodness of mankind.

One difference is that the phrase «в разводе» is used where in English we say “have/had been divorced”:

Алла Пугачёва и Филипп Киркоров уже пять лет в разводе. Alla Pugachova and Philipp Kirkorov have been divorced for five years now.
— Сколько лет вы в разводе?
— Уже пятнадцать.
“How long have you been divorced?”
“For fifteen years.”

People growing up in the fifties and sixties in the US considered divorce a shameful thing, an admission of personal and moral failure. Nowadays it is so commonplace, I scarcely blink an eye when I hear of divorce. So am I surprised that there is a site named that popularizes news of divorce? No, I'm not surprised. But it does make me think there is something wrong with our attitudes toward relationships.

Совместная жизнь (замужем)

November 29th, 2010 — posted by Don

Today we will talk about the word замужем, which means ‘married.’ The word is used to refer to women being married. If you look it up in most dictionaries, you will see it is noted as an adverb. I hate that association. What it really is is an indeclinable feminine predicative adjective that is non-specified for number. So why don't dictionaries just label it that way? Because the abbreviation ifpatinfn is ugly. Even lexicographers are slaves to fashion, pointedly ignoring the instructions of grammatical luminaries like myself. It maddens me.

Let's say you have just run into your old friend Angelina, who for some recent work-related reason has learned to speak Russian. You could have this conversation with her.

— Ну, Анджелина, где твой муж?
— Мой муж? Я не замужем.
— Но я думала, что Брэд твой муж.
— Ну, как тебе сказать... Мы живём вместе, у нас трое родных детей и ещё трое усыновлённых, но официально мы не вступили в брак.
“So, Angelina, where is your husband?”
“My husband? I'm not married.”
“But I thought Brad was your husband.”
“Well, how should I put this... We live together. We have three of our own children plus three adopted ones, but we have never offically gotten married.”
— Почему ваша дочка не замужем?
— Она считает, что мужики вообще ленивые, агрессивные, и не соблюдают чистоту.
— С этим трудно поспорить.
“Why isn't your daughter married?”
“She thinks guys are lazy, aggressive, and don't know how to keep anything clean.”
“That's hard to argue with.”

If you are talking about more than one woman, замужем does not change form:

— Твои сёстры замужем?
— Да, все три уже замужем.
“Are your sisters married?”
“Yes, all three are married.”

If the woman you are talking to is one whom you address in вы form, then замужем does not change form:

— Алла Борисовна, вы замужем?
— Нет, я уже не замужем.
“Alla Borisovna, are you married?”
“No, I am no longer married.”

Of course, once you know the person is married, you will want to know to whom she is married, for which purpose you will could use the preposition за followed by the instrumental case:

Людмила Александровна замужем за Владимиром Владимировичем. Lyudmila Aleksandrovna is married to Vladimir Vladimirovich.

With that in mind, theoretically one could have the following conversation:

— Ира, ты замужем?
— Да, замужем.
— За кем ты замужем?
— За бывшим соседом, Димой.
“Irina, are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Who are you married to?”
“To my former neighbor, Dima.”

Although that conversation is perfectly grammatical, it is also a bit odd. Instead of using the за кем construction, most Russians will make it simpler:

— Ира, ты замужем?
— Да, замужем.
— А кто твой муж?
— Наш бывший сосед, Дима.
“Irina, are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Who are you married to?”
“Our former neighbor, Dima.”

Совместная жизнь (женат)

November 24th, 2010 — posted by Don

Today we will talk about the word женат, which is a short form adjective that means ‘married.’ The word is used to refer to a man being married or to a couple being married; today we address the former situation. For instance, let's say you've just run into an old friend, Владимир, whom you haven't seen for quite some time. As you catch up, you might say:

Ну, Вов, скажи, ты женат или ещё холостой? So tell me, Vova, are you married or still single?

In response to the question, you might hear very compact answers:

— Ты женат?
— Да, женат.
“Are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
— Ты женат?
— Нет, не женат.
“Are you married?”
“No, I'm not.”

If the man you are talking to is one whom you address in вы form, then женат must go in the plural:

— Владимир Владимирович, вы женаты?
— Да, женат.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich, are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
— Филипп Бедросович, вы женаты?
— Нет, не женат.
“Philipp Bedrosovich, are you married?”
“No, I'm not.”

Of course, once you know the person is married, you will want to know to whom he is married, for which purpose you will use the preposition на followed by the prepositional case:

Владимир Владимирович женат на Людмиле Александровне. Vladimir Vladimirovich is married to Lyudmila Aleksandrovna.

With that in mind, theoretically one could have the following conversation:

— Вова, ты женат?
— Да, женат.
— На ком ты женат?
— На твоей бывшей девушке, Любе.
“Vova, are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Who are you married to?”
“To your old girlfriend Lyuba.”

Although that conversation is perfectly grammatical, it is also a bit odd. Instead of using the на ком construction, most Russians will make it simpler:

— Вова, ты женат?
— Да, женат.
— А кто твоя жена?
— Твоя бывшая девушка, Люба.
“Vova, are you married?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Who is your wife?”
“Your old girlfriend Lyuba.”


February 25th, 2010 — posted by Tatiana

Last weekend I was invited to my friend’s wedding. It was a great celebration with lots of dancing, delicious Russian food and… wait for it… drinking! &#59;D Being there made me think of a great word to write about — «горько». No Russian wedding can go without people yelling «горько» to the bride and groom. Literally translated, this word means "bitter”. According to the tradition, people say it at the end of their toasts or just surprise the newlyweds with it at any moment during the wedding to make them kiss. The idea behind this tradition is that the guests want to see the bride and groom kiss. By yelling «горько», people let them know that they can’t stand the “bitterness” in the air and ask them to make it sweeter by kissing each other.

Я хочу вам пожелать долгой и счастливой совместной жизни! Горько! I would like to wish you a long life of happiness together! Give us some sugar!
Когда гости закричали «горько», жених поцеловал невесту. When the guests yelled “bitter,” the groom kissed the bride.
— У меня выскочила лихорадка!
— Что же ты будешь делать, когда «горько» кричать будут?
— Ну, знаешь же, как говорят, что у мужа с женой всё должно быть общее… вот мы и это разделим!
“I got a cold sore!”
“What are you going to do when they yell “kiss”?”
"Well, you know how they say, “what’s mine is yours now”… so we’ll share that too!"

Sometimes the guests play it trickier and instead of just yelling «горько», they start saying that the wine is bitter or the food is bitter; thus, indirectly asking the newlyweds to sugar it up. Once they made them kiss, everybody begins counting very slowly to see how long the kiss will last. It is generally considered that the more the guests yell, «горько», the happier the couple’s life will be. Therefore, when you are at a Russian wedding, don’t hesitate to use it! :D


October 20th, 2009 — posted by Don

The Russian word for wedding is свадьба, which means both the marriage ceremony itself and the festivities that follow it. The word can also mean “wedding party,” in the sense of those who participate in the wedding. Since свадьба includes the later festivities, sometimes it's better to translate it as “reception.”

Most of the Protestant weddings I have attended in the US follow a fairly standard pattern: first there is a brief wedding ceremony in a church, which often takes less than half an hour. There may be hundreds of guests at the ceremony, and those who attend it are not necessarily invited to the reception. The wedding reception is a party or dinner afterwards, which may be held in another building on the church grounds or in a room at some other location rented for the event. All wedding receptions include a small event where the bride and groom mutually cut the wedding cake and feed each other a small piece. My favorite reception of all time was a seven-course sit-down dinner and dance for one hundred people. Now that was a reception.

The standard non-religious Russian wedding is a very different thing. It begins with a visit to ЗАГС or a wedding palace where the brief ceremony itself is held.¹ The bride, groom, and closest friends participate; parents do not necessarily attend. This is followed by a traveling party where the same people drive around town visiting various city sights where they drink champagne and take photographs.² This is followed by a meal, usually in a home, but sometimes in a restaurant.

In English one “holds” a wedding somewhere, and the guests “attend” a wedding. In Russian they often use the verb играть “to play” and гулять “to enjoy oneself” to express similar ideas:

В каком ресторане вы играли свадьбу? (adapted from this source) What restaurant did you hold the reception in?
В каком месяце вы играли свадьбу? (adapted from this source) What month did you hold your wedding in?
Большинство русских не играют свою свадьбу в церквях. Most Russians don't hold their weddings in churches.
— Где ты был в субботу?
— Я гулял на свадьбе.
“Where were you on Saturday?”
“I attended a wedding.”
Ты не хочешь со мной погулять на свадьбе в пятницу? Would you like to attend a wedding with me on Friday?

Of course, not all weddings fit the description above. Devout Orthodox Russians will have church weddings, which are elaborate and lengthy affairs. For a decent description of a modern Russian wedding, see When you are in the mood for some amusement, you should read about the many interesting customs around weddings in Russian villages of yesteryear, which included the kidnapping and ransoming of the bride.

¹ ЗАГС is a civil registry office which often has a particular suite of rooms where marriages are solemnized.

² If the wedding is in Moscow, the wedding party usually includes visits to Red Square, the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the scenic city overlook in front of Moscow State University.