Having been married to a Finnish woman - Taina - for almost four years and living with (the same) one for almost seven, it leaves a lot to tell to others currently dating a Finn or for the Finns who are curious to know how their partners view them. And I don’t doubt there will be yet more to tell in the future.
I have noticed there are differences whether the Finn is in Finland or another country. My wife and I met in the UK so I’ll start there.
As a single woman, my wife to be was a complete party animal, as most Finnish women are: Loud, boisterous and willing and able to drink anyone under the table. Often doing so several times a week. It was this independence which first attracted me to Taina and so began the chase. Although being a Finnish woman, it was she who did the chasing! Within a few months Taina and I were living together and it was then I got to know the real Finn.
I don’t know if it was because she was previously living with a Finn and now myself, a non-Finn or not but Taina became quite shy when dealing with other people. Not with me, my family or our friends at college, but with strangers such as salespeople or anybody over the phone. She would ask me to ask questions on her behalf. I would do the asking about a particular feature on a new DVD, ordering drinks or about available times for movies at the cinema. Whereas Taina would be happy to ask for these things if she was alone, with me she would always ask that I interact with others simply because she wasn’t confident of her English skills. I hadn’t really understood this until coming to Finland and understood why life would be simpler if these things were conducted in the local tongue.
At college Taina was the strong-willed Finn I fell in love with. Exceptionally organised, she would always have assignments completed on time and rarely missed a class. She stormed through her course with determination, focused on whatever task was at hand. This was the same at home. Taina always had a schedule for something: when we were going to do the cleaning, when we were going to study, when we going to have time together and when we would go food shopping. I was amazed at how organised she was. Quite often it would get frustrating. Taina would make lists for what we were going to do. A shopping list, a list for household items, at one point I remember seeing a list for what lists have to be made!
Taina used, and still uses, a year-long diary with a page for each day. This diary is constantly in use, filled with previously mentioned lists and memos. This is the definitive tool for the Finnish woman (note: Finnish men will have an electronic version of this!) which will allow her never to forget and to remind you whenever you forget to do something!
Taina has always been very fitness orientated. In the UK, we would go swimming at least twice a week at the local pool. She has always had some sort of aerobics and/or gym program going on. I know, I have seen the lists of when she has to go! Being particularly fitness allergic, being with Taina has helped me to at least partake in some minimal sports. I have been to the gym and out running a few times, I have taken an interest in martial arts and I even own a pair or rollerblades! If only to avoid running…
After we finished our studies, we decided we would get married and elope to Finland. Partly due to the fact that Taina was very home-sick and would visit her family in Finland twice, perhaps three times per year and partly because she had lived, studied and worked here to be with me, I wanted to return the favour.
As we settled down in Finland, Taina changed. She no longer had the need to ask me to do the talking. Quite the opposite until I knew enough Finnish to get by on my own. Taina wasted no time in finding herself a job, a school for me and a place for us to live. She was in her playing field now. Playing at home. She resumed her confidence in communicating with others, she was the pant-wearer of the house – more so than she was already!
In these past few years little has changed. Taina is as organised as she ever was. Although I speak Finnish well, Taina likes to (and I am grateful that she does) take care of any official paperwork such as bills, application forms etc. Taina also takes care of the money. Contrary to most arrangements between some couples, we don’t have ‘his money’ and ‘her money’ but we put our earnings together and decide what to do with it then. It helps when planning to buy expensive items such as a TV, car, or a house!
Taina has ‘calmed’ down a lot too. She still has her wild nights out consisting or more than reasonable drinking but is now more focused on her career and other hobbies. She seems less determined to need to prove her drinking prowess. At least until a mid-life crisis kicks in!
Being back with her own friends and family has given her more confidence and independence and her shyness has disappeared completely.
In conclusion, being with a Finnish woman can be like living on the edge and on the other hand it can be painfully organised at times. In each case, no matter what kind of mix you have between these two extremes, you can always rely on them to love and be loved. Work hard at your relationship and you will be rewarded with an incredible insight into Scandinavia’s most fascinating females.