The Russian Family and Marriage
Russian families are large and friendly. The meaning of the family in Russia is not limited to the husband, wife and children. It stretches to include grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. The members of the Russian family closely communicate with each other and frequently get together, especially on such family occasions as birthdays and anniversaries. Just like in any family, there might be misunderstandings and even quarrels among family members, however one thing is certain: Russians cherish their families and are always ready to help their relatives in difficult times. The tradition that everyone should love their own home and protect their family is instilled into Russians since the early childhood.
Husband, Wife, and Age Differences
Just a few decades ago, it was very common among Russians to play the wedding at an early age. Young men and women would get married at the age of 18-20 while studying in their second or third year at the university. A typical student family (студенческая семья) would consist of a young husband and wife pursuing their university degrees while receiving material support from their parents.
According to the latest statistics, the marriages between Russians of the same age are much less common. In the majority of Russian families, the husband is 4-6 years older than his wife but the age difference of more than 10 years is still acceptable by most Russians (for example, the lead singer of the popular Russian band Mumiy Troll is sixteen years older than his young wife).
The Russian tradition, according to which a young woman had to get married as early as possible traces its roots to the distant past. In the ancient Rus', a fifteen year-old girl was considered to be mature enough for adult life and giving birth to children. Marriages were arranged and were a matter of practicality with the emphasis not being on romance. Such views on life preserved in Russia until the end of the twentieth century when marriages at the age of 18-20 were still common. It was only at the close of the twentieth century when an unmarried 20-year-old girl would no longer be referred to as someone who "stayed too long in maids" (засидеться в девках) and an unmarried 25-year-old woman would no longer be called the "old maid" (старая дева).
Nowadays the majority of young men and women in Russia prefer not to rush to marriage and such trend has gained popularity: prior to marriage, the future spouses strive to receive good education, find a decent job and achieve the first successes in their careers. By the time of marriage and the birth of children, the young families have their lives arranged and are able to support themselves financially.