The rent-a-husband service that appeared in Western countries some ten years ago is now gathering pace in Russia.
Essentially meant for lonely women who don’t know how to batter in a nail, a service called “rent a husband” appeared in Russia several years ago.
Today the service has become popular throughout the ex-Soviet territory, and though it resembles its European counterpart, it has still gathered a handful of regional specifics.
A husband for a man
A number of companies give ladies who need help a chance to hire a “husband” – a man who does all the household handy work for them. The services of such “husbands” cost from 600 rubles per hour (US$20) and remain highly desirable.
Though the target audience was thought to consist solely of women, today quite a lot of men who are too busy to spend their time mending sockets and the like resort to the services of experts.
Nowadays such companies are appearing at a cracking pace – new organizations emerge and try to lure people with stunning slogans that sound like “Our husband for rent will substitute for your real husband when you ask!”
The men working for such companies can turn their hands to almost anything, be it plumbing, electrical work, apartment remodeling or computer repair.
Vladimir, a young Muscovite, called one of the metropolitan companies – he needed to fix a window that was completely broken.
“In an hour-and-a-half a man in his late forties came. Apart from repairing the window, he gave me surfeit of advice concerning everything he could set his eyes upon – the kitchen, the ventilation and the bathroom tiles,” he said.
Choose qualification… and looks
Craze of the day is another service that has been added to the list – rent-a-wife. Women will come to your place and put it into shape: cook meals, walk your pet, feed your child and water your house-plants.
For some reason, the so-called wife services cost less than a husband’s and the prices vary from US$10 to $15 per hour.
Some companies even ask you what you would like your temporary spouse to look like.
“Some people are very specific about the appearance of the lady who is going to spend several hours a day in their apartment. For your convenience we have photographs of all the ladies working for us posted on our site,” claims one of the many companies’ web pages.
The first three months are the probation period during which all the “wives” get just ten per cent of their earnings – $8 -16 a day. Those who have a good reputation and work well will later get as much as half of the earnings – $100.
The majority of ladies working in such companies are immigrants.
Oksana, a young woman from Ukraine, does not earn more than $30 a day, and she also has to feed her five-year-old son and pay the rent for an apartment.
“The work is hard and we don’t have much money left at the end of the month, but I don’t complain – it’s even worse in my native town,” she said.
All women working as temporary wives are forbidden to spend an extra minute at the client’s apartment, and “office romances” mean instant dismissal the day boss learns about it.
Maid in Moscow
Some people, mainly women, get confused by the companies’ names and call hoping for more than a fixed faucet.
Some companies even complain that the number of calls from women looking for a more lasting husband have significantly exceeded the orders for the company’s real services.
The companies’ operators have to explain the service men’s main concern are broken taps and not broken hearts.
Though of course there have been incidents, and not isolated ones, when an ordinary cleaning ended with a happy marriage.
“When I found a job at the rent-a-wife company, I was divorced and feeling lonely,” recalls 40-year-old Tatyana.
“I wasn’t thinking of any romance, I was just trying to take my mind off sad thoughts and get to know new interesting people. When I was asked to clean Boris’s flat, I perceived him as just another client. But he asked me to come once more. And then again. We married in a year. At first I didn’t say a word about our relationship at work, but in four months I had to confess and left the company. Our daughter is now seven,” she told RT.
“People who choose to work in such companies are subconsciously looking for adventure,” says Anna Rozanova from the Paracelsus psychology center.
“The impact of films, especially Hollywood-type melodramas, is immensely high, and young women hope that something like that will happen to them and they will meet their personal Prince Charming”, adds Anna.
Anna Yudina, RT