Archive for the 'marriage' Category

Package is under way

Today a courier will carry our I-130 petition over the ocean to deliver it to USCIS on Wednesday November 7 at the latest. I’m relieved and nervous at the same time. Hoping all goes well!
I’d like to think we ‘front-loaded’ the petition reasonably well, without sending a huge monstrosity of a file.

Here’s what we sent:

– G-1145, so as to be notified digitally of progress

– cover letter with table of contents (2 pages)

(subdivision petition)

– check for filing fee

– I-130 petition

– copy of Beloved’s birth certificate (front and back)

(subdivision page biographicals)

– G-325A for Beloved

-passport-style picture of Beloved

– G-325A for me

-passport-style picture of me

(subdivision marriage)

– marriage certificate (or rather ‘international extract from local government database, proving marriage’)

(subdivision cohabitation)

– international extract from local government database proving residence at home address since (date) for Beloved

– international extract from local government database proving residence at home address since (date)for me

(subdivision commingling of financial resources)

– statement from tax preparer with summary of jointly filed taxes (3 pages)

– signed notice of consent for electronic filing of taxes

– statement from online banking software showing joint account (+ translation and certificate of translation)

(subdivision affidavits)

-affidavit from my mother

-affidavit from my father

-notarized affidavit from Beloved’s parents

– affidavit from friend 1 (the one who introduced us)

– affidavit from friend 2

– affidavit from friend 3

(subdivision joint travel)

-8 pages of travel documents showing purchases of plane and train tickets for both of us.

(subdivision pictures)

22 pages with pictures, dates and descriptions of pictures showing narrative of our relationship. (app. 30 pictures)



What it means to be married – a detail

Yesterday I was on my way home from work and decided to pick up food for dinner.

I bought the following:

– lettuce

– smoked chicken breast

– tomatoes

– cucumber

– bell pepper

– olives

I texted Beloved that I had obtained foodstuffs and got on the train. Twenty minutes later, my phone buzzed with a text in reply: Oops, I got us food too.

Upon arriving home, we compared our purchases so that we could decide what to eat. Beloved showed me what he had bought:

–  lettuce

– smoked chicken breast

– tomatoes

– cucumber

– bell pepper

– olives

We will be eating salad for at least half of this week.

Article: (Economist) International Marriage

“Research at last begins to cast some light on the extent, causes and consequences of cross-border marriages”

Read the rest here.

Why oh why..

do people get hitched?

An interesting question. It’s been written about before on the Happy Sighs blog. On Happy Accident there is a post that ties in closely to the same question. There are plenty voices of marriage skeptics to be heard as well.

So.. why?

Based on reading, reading and more reading, there are quite a few reasons.

– It’s a way to make a public statement out of your love.
– It’s a way to gain legitimacy from a myriad of people and institutions (regarding the theme of this blog: governments and immigration agencies are not the least of those).
– It’s a tradition that many people find valuable and beautiful.
– It takes a lot of social pressure away for many couples.
– It’s a way to formalize certain agreements within a relationship (as well as to communicate them outward).
– It is a way to gain a certain amount of (social/ governmental) privilege.
– It is a ready-made way to draw upon a set of legal measures that make life easier for couples.
– It is a rite of passage into a life phase that may be attractive to people.
– It has religious significance.

There are probably many more reasons.

I wonder if there is an innate desire to marry. Imagine a world in which marriage did not exist and in which there was no way to formalize any love commitment. Do you think people would, leaving all the social and legal aspects behind, desire a rite leading to a state in which romantic love was symbolized?

I doubt it. But that’s easy for me to say. I never wanted to get married to begin with. With regards to commitment I’ve always preferred the ‘wild horse approach’. I feel much more strongly for a commitment that is chosen again every single day and has no externally enforced negative consequences if it ends.

There are more issues I have with marriage, but they deal with the validity of the institution (and the way in which it is wielded to divide people and keep them apart) more so than with my personal feeling about it. On the most personal level it comes down to me not wanting to get married because I don’t like the way divorce works. The idea of negatively incentivizing the end of a partnership goes against my idea of the very nature of partnership. Which is why, when we did get married, we worked create a situation in which divorce would be a formality because all the agreements where already in place, with the consequences as neutral as possible for both of us.

We got married to get our governments off our backs. To allow us me to go with him to the US for his dreams and ambitions, and to allow him to come back with me if that’s what our future holds. Or for both of us to go to the same places under the same sets of rules if that’s where our idea of a future will take us. And the reason that we wanted to be able to do those things is because we love each other. The marriage is a means to achieve the goal of a (more) hassle-free shared future.

There is an interesting tendency in how some (not all!) people respond to our marriage. Those of pro-marriage mindsets laughingly tell us that the practical reasons we cite for our marriage are excuses, things we tell ourselves so as to not have to be honest about how much we love each other and how much we enjoy having a wedding and being the center of attention.

Some of those with anti-marriage mindsets don’t tell us much, but they imply (less laughingly, I may add) that the practical reasons we cite for getting married are excuses we use as a defense to their questioning, things we tell ourselves to feel better about buying into this outdated, obsolete societal tradition of privilege, inequality and gender stereotypes.

It feels a little lonely. It feels a little 16-year-old-and-misunderstood. It feels like the process of us reaching our conclusion on marriage is not getting the respect it deserves from those people. It’s like people don’t believe we really, actually, truly looked the idea of marriage in the face before we decided: “Well, you know what, we may not agree with it on principle and we may not want to do it for it’s own sake, but if this is what it takes to let our governments allow me stay with you then that’s what I will do.”

Things to think about

Image by Mrs Logic, under a Creative Commons License.

I went and visited grandpa last night.  The medical reality is harsh. We’re talking a life expectancy of less than three months. He is emaciated and exhausted, having so little oxygen that his body devours itself to keep the elemental systems going. He was dozing as I came in, but he soon woke up and clearly enjoyed getting visitors. He laughed and joked and wore himself out by trying to tell stories, panting after every three words. About his fate he is very levelheaded and accepting. He did not strike me as afraid or worried about it all.

Afterwards I joined my parents and my father’s sister and her husband. We talked about the conversation they had with grandpa’s doctors earlier that day, and about how they agreed that most fitting solution is to find hospice care. As his family, we feel that such care should be found in a place where all four of grandpa’s children can come to visit him often. Which means that the current town he is in, is not suitable.

To help my father and his sister, I offered to go online and compile a list of the hospices in the general area that would be easy to reach for all the children. And that’s what I did today. It was probably the most depressing e-mail I ever sent – a list of places where people go to die. All their amenities, the private bathrooms, the bedrooms you decorate yourself, the lovely designed gardens, the meals that the volunteers will cook for you on request, they seem so futile in the face of certain death. I’m trying to comfort myself with the idea that it won’t be futile for grandpa, that he will appreciate being able to choose his own menu every day and be bathed in a bathroom he does not need to share.

I guess. I hope.

There’s always morphine to make him comfortable, of course, but it has somehow become so very important that he gets to squeeze a last few drops of joy out of his life. I need to buy him soft serve ice cream and bring him a puppy to cuddle and audio books to listen to and, and, and..

And then I get to talk to my husband, who is still far away. And I wonder. Who of us will die first? How soon until we have time to make a will? What are laws on euthanasia in the US? How will life be for the remaining partner if we remain (by choice) childless and there is no team of loving, competent people who, bound by blood, always have your back? It’s a confronting thought because I don’t want children. But the idea of going through what my grandfather goes through and not having at least someone who is bound by love and genes to be on your side.. That’s daunting. Shit.

I’m going to have a drink.

On being a married man..

This post is based on a phone conversation Beloved had with his long-time best friend on Christmas eve.

We spent that evening walking around town, having drinks, walking around and then seeing a movie (The Rum Diary – I don’t recommend it, despite it showing an interesting take on journalism). And we talked to Athena, who asked Beloved the oftenest-posed-post-marriage question: So, how does it feel to be married?

After a half  joking half aggravated rant about how the state of marriage mostly consists of telling people how it feels to be married, he did get around to an interesting point. People respond differently to a married man than to a single one. The most interesting example takes place at Beloved’s office. One of the office managers is a just a few years younger than he is. And she never spoke to him for anything other than the necessary in-office communications, but ever since she knows of his plans for marriage (and eventually the actually being married) she chats him up regularly.

Is this the “married man effect“, where a married man is perceived as more attractive because he 1) comes with a stamp of approval by another woman or 2) has shown to be interested in a long term relathionship? Or is it the opposite, where him being “safely married”  makes it socially acceptable to talk to him? There may be a whole host of other reasons, of course, which makes this interesting.

My own hypothesis? I know she’s unmarried, but with a partner and a child. My guess is that she wants to talk wedding because that’s what’s on her ownmind, and she hopes that he can tell her fun things. Doesn’t that somehow make the most sense?

On another noter on feeling married, Beloved and I both enjoy playing the “my wife/ husband-card”. His boss texts him at an ungodly hour to come out to a bar and he doesn’t feel like it? Just text back saying his wife does not allow it. I get pestered about not participating in the work-foosball-competition? “Oh, no I couldn’t, my husband expects me to cook..” It’s fun to have a whole new set of stereotypes to play with. Now we can be gender benders and marriage expanders. Sounds good to me!

Moving up the tree

My grandfather is dying. We don’t have a formal prognosis yet (my dad and my uncles & aunt will talk to the doctor this afternoon), but it’s clear that this man will not be with us for much longer. He asked to institute a no-resuscitation policy, and we’re pretty sure he won’t be able to go back to his apartment anymore.

It’s a little eerie that he took such a turn for the worse shortly after our marriage. It’s not like I’m his first grandchild to be married (he already has three great-grandsons, actually) but his failing health solidifies the feeling  I’ve had since we wedded – that we’ve shifted a rank in our respective family trees. I am now an aunt, for instance. And soon I will only have one last vestige of grantparenthood left. I hope Beloved will let me adopt his last living grandmother a bit – she’s awesome – then I’ll be back to two.

I’m not upset about my grandfather’s impending death. The man is in his nineties. He has fought in a big war, traveled far and wide and lost his spark a while ago.

As far as I know, he has been a most remarkable, caring husband. I remember him telling about his return from the war, seeing his fiancée (my grandmother) in the harbour. His face lit up, his eyes shone.. When my grandmother’s brain was slowly, irreversibly damaged by a rare syndrome, he was always by her side. He cared for her at home. By himself. Day and night.

He walked her to the bathroom whenever she said she had to go. Even when the syndrome caused her to be disoriented and lose track of time and she insisted that she had to go every five minutes he would put down whatever he was doing and help her. I know for a fact that for weeks upon weeks she was so worried about being incontinent that the two of them spent more time slowly shuffling back and forth between the bathroom and my grandmother’s chair than they spent doing anything else. An average bathroom trip starting taking twenty minutes, because the syndrome made her lose her motor skills and balance.

When she lost her ability to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern, he sat up with her whenever she was awake. The syndrome also caused dementia, but he dealt with it all. Only when his own health began to fail, did he, under pressure of his children, allow professionals to care for her. Even then, he visited her twice a day to help her eat and give her company.

It was sad to see how fast his world shrunk after she died. He had lost touch with many people due to the intense care he had to give her. He no longer went to the chess and checkers tournaments that he used to frequent. Eventually he placed an ad and found himself a new female friend, but no one is sure if that actually made him happy. We know she is often angry with him. She’s consistently rude to his daughter, the one who has been his most devoted carer. She has been rude to grandpa’s sons too, and quite outspoken about the fact that she does not care for his family. However, if she is not included in everything, she throws tantrums.

Hopefully we’ll be able to bring grandpa elsewhere from the hospital. It’s very unlikely that he’ll be able to live alone again, so if we’re advised to take him to a care facility, we would be able to bring him closer to us (and, simultaneously closer to his other sons and daughter).

While I don’t feel sad about losing my grandfather soon, I feel bad for my dad. If I can feel the shift in the family tree, then how must he feel? He’ll have no parents left alive. He has my mum, though. Yet another good marriage where the spouses feel that caring for each other is such a normal thing to do.

And that is how my grandfather’s failing health leads me to think about how lucky I am with my family and how fortunate I am that I have found a spouse with whom I firmly believe I can have a marriage in the tradition of my family.