The matter of life

The matter of life
The matter of life

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the family suddenly ceased to be a unit of society. Formally, she remained the same - a man, a woman, children. But the relationship between them has become completely different. Sociologists and priests told us about how the family and relations in it have changed over the past fourteen or fifteen years.

matter of life

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the family suddenly ceased to be a unit of society. Formally, she remained the same - a man, a woman, children. But the relationship between them has become completely different. Sociologists and priests told us about how the family and relations in it have changed over the past fourteen or fifteen years.



According to a survey of IKSI RAS, the modern ideal man, according to Russian women, should:

  • Have a developed mind, intellect - 36.7%
  • Have physical strength, he alth - 36%
  • Providing prosperity - 34, 1%
  • Do not have bad habits - 26.8%
  • Be confident - 23, 1%
  • Be faithful in love - 21.9%
  • Have a sense of humor - 17.6%
  • Be sexy - 17%
  • Be good looking - 15.7%
  • Be kind - 13.4%
  • Love children - 12.7%
  • Be economical - 9%
  • Have a light temper - 6, 1%
  • Be hard - 5.3%

It would seem that in the new social situation, the image of the ideal man would have to change a lot. But what is surprising is that, as in Soviet times, the ideal man remains romantic for the weaker sex: the sexuality of the handsome prince takes only eighth place out of fourteen. She even had a sense of humor! And when it comes not to the ideal man, but to the husband, then sexuality becomes even less valuable: only 7.5% of women named it among the necessary qualities of an ideal husband!

According to Russian women, sexuality is also far from being in the first place for an ideal woman. And the most important thing in us, as we ourselves believe, is an attractive appearance, love for children, housekeeping and practicality, kindness, fidelity in love and self-confidence.


  • For the full upbringing of children - 29%
  • A married woman feels much more confident - 27%
  • Official marriage is not needed, the main thing is to have a man nearby - 18%
  • To create a material support for the family - 10%
  • Marriage is not important for a modern woman, she can achieve everything alone - 13%
  • Other - 3%

Twenty years ago, young people often married after a certain age, because that was the way it was. Society demanded the creation of another cell, and often the couple did not even think (and did not know) about what awaits them after the wedding. Now having a family imposes a greater responsibility on spouses than in Soviet times, when the state, at the very least, provided jobs, wages, and medical care. And many try to plan their future family life and create a material base for it even before the wedding - to get an education and a good job, and if possible, to buy their own housing. Experts say that modern young people tend to first get on their feet, then look for a partner, then, having found, live with him for some time to see how life together will look like in conditions close to combat, and only then are they ready to go in the registry office And as a result, the number of weddings has been significantly reduced, and the average age of marriage in large cities is about 30 years. Yes, and they give birth now, as a rule, not earlier than 25 years old.


  • Wife 51.5%
  • Husband 17.0%
  • Another family member 11.8%
  • Everyone contributes equally 19.7%
  • Wife 15%
  • Husband 56%
  • Another family member 2.9%
  • Everyone contributes equally 26.1%

Contrary to the opinion of the classic, happy families are not at all alike. Russians differently imagine family happiness. But the main characteristic feature of our time: happiness has almost ceased to be a romantic ephemeral feeling - "this is when everything is fine" or "when you are understood." It is made up of specific ingredients. Firstly, true love is important for happiness, but not so much a romantic feeling as a feeling of confidence, stability and reliability. Another necessary component for happiness is children. In third place is the presence of a stamp in the passport: 69% of married women consider themselves happy. In happy families, the man makes the main contribution to the budget (56.5%). And, which is typical, among women who do not have a happy family and who doubt that they will ever have one, she herself is the main breadwinner (51.5%). At the same time, in happy families, women take an active part in the distribution of expenses - in 91% of cases, she either manages them on her own, or participates in the distribution on an equal basis with her husband.

Another sign of the times is the impact of social affiliation on happiness. We althy women more often rate their family as happy. The least happy women are in the families of auxiliary workers (34%). And most of all - among housewives (63%) and women entrepreneurs (59%). Surprisingly, these polar, from the point of view of sociologists, groups have very similar “indicators” of happiness. Most likely, the fact is that in both groups, women have the opportunity to realize themselves in the area that is important to them, whether it be family or career.


A characteristic feature of our time - women are gaining serious positions, making a career, making a significant contribution to the family budget. But, despite this, most married women want to see a man as the head of the family and believe that he should be the breadwinner.

It is interesting that the attitude towards the distribution of roles within the family as a whole remained the same. According to the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), the main breadwinner of the family, according to Russians, should be the husband (64%), but in practice, only 48% of respondents noted that this is the case. Only 1% named their wife as the main earner, but in practice 10% of wives earn more than their husbands.

Our fellow citizens believe


  • Material difficulties - 36%
  • Disagreements about parenting - 19%
  • Sharing family responsibilities - 15%
  • Incompatibility of characters - 14%
  • Drunkenness, drug addiction - 13%
  • Relationships with parents of spouses - 13%
  • Choice of leisure activities - 9%
  • Disagreement over social circle - 8%
  • Treason, jealousy - 5%
  • Problems in sexual relations - 3%

In today's Russia you can buy anything and terrible queues for cotton wool, diapers, writing on furniture, the same type of furnishings and clothes are a thing of the past. With an abundance of consumer goods, each housewife decorates the house in accordance with her desires and abilities, and the comic situation of the film “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath”, when the characters have the same furniture and wallpaper, is almost impossible. In large cities, dishwashers have ceased to be exotic, not to mention washing machines. Communication has become simpler (there are telephones everywhere in cities, and now many have mobile phones), the quality of equipment has improved.

Now it's easier to be a mom with baby monitors, home bottle sterilizers and other technical wonders that our mothers could not even dream of. In addition, it has ceased to be shameful to hire a nanny or a housekeeper - before there was an inevitable question of exploitation. Society began to treat with approval a woman whose interests are not limited to a child. And if in Soviet times it was believed that a woman is obliged to devote herself to a child, now women often go to work immediately after giving birth. In addition, many of them prefer to pay for a housekeeper in order to avoid unpleasant work and spend more time with their family.


  • Fine - 8%
  • They think it's bad, but sometimes it's acceptable - 35%
  • Think it is completely unacceptable - 57%
  • Men:
  • It's okay - 10%
  • This is bad, sometimes acceptable - 45%
  • This is totally unacceptable - 45%

The sexual revolution has had a strong impact on Russians. This is evidenced by the growth of sexual culture, which consists in the fact that the use of contraceptives is increasing, while the number of abortions, on the contrary, is falling. These are positive consequences of sexual education, but there are also negative ones: the age of onset of sexual activity has decreased, the number of partners who change throughout life has increased, and, accordingly, the number of infidelities and cases of infection with sexually transmitted diseases has increased.

Once upon a time, for "immorality" it was easy to fly out of the institute or from work, and at ten in the evening a strict attendant appeared on the threshold of the hotel room and demanded that the guests vacate the room. Now it would never occur to anyone in a hotel to see if you have a stamp in your passport, and a civil marriage is perceived as something natural: 31% of Russian women believe that it is completely optional to enter into an official marriage. According to the latest census, out of 34 million married couples, 3 million are in a civil marriage. Moreover, the incident of the census is that in Russia there are now 65,000 more married women than married men. Sociologists explain it this way: civil marriage for many men is an illusion of freedom, and for women it is an illusion of employment. However, here's an interesting fact: 69% of legal wives consider themselves happy. And among women living in a civil marriage, only 40% are happy.


In Soviet times, there were family control mechanisms. The family was considered a cell of society, and family life was a matter of state. Party committees, local committees and committees of the Komsomol could interfere without limit in the relationship of spouses, and often the wife practically controlled her husband with the help of these all-powerful organizations, turning to the district committee of the Komsomol or the party with any, even intimate, family problem.

Now the state has withdrawn itself from participation in family life, and it is unlikely that you will be understood if you call, say, the prefecture with a complaint that your husband is shirking marital duties. However, in conflict situations, public and commercial (as a rule) medical and psychological organizations come to the rescue, and in especially difficult cases, legal ones. For example, now they complain about the assault and rudeness of a spouse not to the district committee, but to women's crisis centers. The fact that intimate life is not going well, they now say not to a girlfriend, but to a sexologist, and about what a bad husband and what ungrateful children, they say not to their mother, but to a psychoanalyst.

Young people forgive betrayal more easily than representatives of the older generation: if 65% of people over 60 consider it unacceptable, then among 18-24-year-olds only … 32% answer the question. Cheating, among other things, is one of the last causes of conflicts, only 5% of their total number. Sociologists argue that such tolerance allows the modern Russian family to “fit in” with pan-European trends, which would have happened much more slowly if Soviet family traditions had been preserved.

Expert Opinion


NATALIA SEDOVA, sociologist, senior researcher at IKSI RAS

FATHER DMITRY, priest of the temples of the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery

Survey data provided by the Institute for Comprehensive Social Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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