We recently had a comment on the post ‘Getting a Visa: One Woman’s Saga‘ that got me thinking. Dreamer asked how I brought up the ‘fiance visa’ issue with my English guy after I completely ran out of ’how to stay in the UK’ options (her original comment can be read here)
I’ve got to start by saying that my heart goes out to you, Dreamer – it’s not a easy situation to be in, but I know you’ll make it through, no matter what happens. I think it takes a certain type of person to make a long-distance relationship work for over a year – and you’re clearly that type of person.
There are several facts that both parties in an expat-dating-situation almost certainly know:
- Staying together is going to take a lot of paperwork, red tape, patience, perseverance and (cha-ching!) WONGA.
- There are about a thousand ways to get into the UK – and a thousand way to get to STAY in the UK, none of which are guaranteed to ACTUALLY work when it comes down to crunch time.
- The ONLY way to stay together, might be to get married – which is obviously not a decision to be made lightly…
The Elephant in the Room
So, I’m assuming both of you – both you and your partner – KNOW all of these things. Of course you do… you’re smart people, you read all the forums and the blogs and the articles and the advice.
It’s also possible that, even though you know these things, you don’t really talk about it with each other much. It’s just a giant, stupid elephant in the room that keeps getting in the way while you’re trying to do regular relationship stuff together. Because who wants to have that conversation?? The one that essentially boils down to, “So, if we don’t get married right now – are we going to break up?”
I mean, what the hell kind of option is THAT?? When it’s the person you love most in the world?? I’ll tell you what kind of option it is – the kind that makes your throat tight and your eyes water whenever you try to bring it up. It’s the kind that makes the atmosphere in the room thick and tense – until you could cut it with a knife – and if you DID, it would actually bleed…
Man, the memories of those days come flooding right back. And I mean flooding – fast…
How Did You Bring It Up?
Tearfully is the answer – tearfully and mucus-y and breathlessly – and hopefully… hoping that all I had to do was mention it and he would produce a ring like a rabbit out of a hat. Hoping I would just have to whisper the words fiancé visa and he would get down on one knee… just like that.
Did it happen that way?
No… I’m afraid it did not…
The first thing we did was go out to lunch… When my ‘last-chance-at-non-marriage-related-visa’ rejection letter came through (and I was no longer hysterical and bright red) we went out to lunch.
We talked about normal stuff, every day stuff, for most of it – a lovely table for three – me, Mr Nice Guy, and that bloody elephant. Only near the end did we discuss that, now, the only option left was marriage. We did it in an almost observational kind of way – I think it was more about acknowledging it’s existence than anything. Just admitting that we both knew what it was going to take if we were going to make it. We both knew we wanted to be together forever, so at least that was unanimous.
Part of me thought he might propose then and there, but he didn’t, and looking back I understand why.
The next couple of months involved a lot of emotion and pressure. I knew that I wanted to marry him, I was ready. He knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, but he hated the pressure of having to decide because of a stupid piece of paper that would be glued in to my passport… I was waiting for him to propose every second of every day… he was waiting for the moment that ‘felt right’ – which would never come while I was so riled up about it.
It was like a big relationship game of chicken… ugh…
How Did You Decide?
In the end, it all boiled down to a very simple, very emotional conversation – good Lord, I remember it like it was 5 minutes ago.
I knew I had to book my plane ticket home. My current work visa was coming to an end and I had to book my plane ticket – and the choice I had to make was would it be one-way, or return? So it boiled down to two simple questions that I asked all those years ago.
I asked/cried, “Do you want me to come back?”
He said, “Of course I do”
I said, “Then I’ll come back”
I asked, “Should I apply for a fiancé visa while I’m home”
He said, “Yes.”
And that was it – decision made. We were engaged…
What Happened Next?
I went back to the States and paid the extra cash to apply for my fiancé visa in person rather that in the mail (because I had to have it when I re-entered the UK). I went back to England and had to sponge off of Mr. Nice Guy for 4 months until we were married and I could legally apply for work.
At the time I remember being disappointed that everything wasn’t more romantic. I didn’t have a big romantic proposal, I didn’t have much time to plan the big day, I didn’t have an engagement ring…
But when we got married it was just the best day. Any doubts that I had about us being rushed in to a decision vanished when I met him at the end of the aisle – I knew he meant his vows and I did, too. What more can you ask for?
And on our one year wedding anniversary, he proposed – because he said he wanted to do it right…
So even though I might have missed out on a little but of romance at the time, what I got in the end was far better…
So, Dreamer, I guess the same advice applies as always – you’ll know what’s right. All you can do is make the best decisions possible with the information you have right now. Knowing you want to spend the rest of your life with someone is the hard part, and if you’ve done that you’re a lucky lucky person. I’m not saying the rest will be easy, but also know that you’re not alone!