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Monday, February 20, 2012

Leaping for Love

I have to admit that I have a habit of leaping before I look.  When I was younger, I believed I could make anything happen and achieve any goal. Most ardently of all, I believed love would always triumph, no matter what circumstances stood in the way.  It's a great perspective for a romance writer to have, and I am still compelled to write my characters into a happy ending in all of my stories.  However, leaping before you look can also make for a life full of challenges.

One of the biggest leaps I've ever taken was to marry a man from another country. Don't get me wrong. It was a great decision, but it certainly didn't come without its difficulties.

Marrying a man from abroad may sound like a romantic prospect. I certainly thought so. I'd read books like Katie McAlister's Improper English or watch films like The Holiday and assume it was entirely reasonable, even simple, to find a beau from across the pond.  Indeed, between email, chat rooms, dating sites, and Skype, meeting and talking to people from around the world is a fairly simple prospect. As for falling in love and making a relationship work when you are separated by oceans, that is where things get a little tricky.

My husband is from Scotland and we talked, emailed, and visited many times before making the decision to marry.  Though we were in love and eager to enter into wedded bliss, the practical reality is that marriage is the only option for people from different countries who wish to be together - barring unlimited bank accounts or the ability to get a work visa. Visas are the bane of international love, though an understandable necessity in our bureaucratic world.  The normal US visitor visa period for a resident of the United Kingdom or European Union is 90 days.  At that point, whether they've found love or even married a US citizen, a UK visitor needs to return to Britain.

To us, the immigration process seemed interminably long.  We initially applied for our US fiance visa in July of 2010, final approval came in February 2011, and we married one month later. During eight months of waiting, we learned that international relationships require extraordinary commitment. My husband said at the time that he felt certain the process was so rigorous in order to weed out those couples who weren't really serious about being together.  I'm not sure bureaucracy works that way, but I know we both view our relationship differently because of the immigration experience. We appreciate togetherness more and feel grateful for a marriage that we spent so much time and effort to achieve. 

Leaping for love was the best decision I ever made, though it was also a difficult process that caused me to grow in unexpected ways.  I even learned a bit of patience - not one of my virtues.  These days, I usually take a little peek before I leap. I still leap, of course, but now I anticipate the challenges.

8 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

What a great story! I knew your husband was from Scotland but I didn't know you have a Very Long Distance Relationship before marriage.

Leaping for Love is a great title for a romance novel, don't you think? Maybe something the Genre-istas at www.RomanceFromTheGenre-istas.blogspot.com might consider for one of their Free Reads topics?

Thank you for sharing such a personal story, Christy.

Diana Mcc. said...

Hi,Christy! What a romantic love story! Sounds like all you went through made your love grow and your commitment stronger. How brave of you and your husband to take such a gigantic leap of faith that it would all work out. :))

Sarah Raplee said...

Overcoming obstacles together is a great way to strengthen a relationship. Thanks for sharing your experience, Christy.

Angela M. said...

That is a beautiful story, Christy. I bet there might have been a moment or two you questioned whether you made the right decision, but wow, how much stronger you two have to be to make it through all of that! And oh, yeah, unless it's really too close to home, it would be a great story to write (fictional, of course).

Serving in the Navy, I'm aware of many of the challenges. I've had plenty of friends married to foreign citizens and I've seen how very, very long it takes to get their loved ones home with them. Apparently, there are no shortcuts.

Paty Jager said...

That seems to be a very good leap to take, from a romantic stand point, Congratulations!

Christy Carlyle said...

Judith - Thanks for your comments. Yes! Leaping for Love is a great title. One of those titles that could prompt all sorts of stories. :)'

Diana - Sometimes we felt brave and sometimes we just thought we were being crazy. I definitely had people say, "Why don't you just date an American? It would be so much easier."

Sarah - You're absolutely right. Now that we are past the separation and the stress of the immigration process, I can say that I am glad we had some trials at the beginning of our relationship to bond us in a uniquely strong way.

Angela - There were definitely moments of doubt, not about each other or being together, but about whether I should have gone to the UK (a somewhat easier and quicker process) or we should have just taken the risk of marrying and hope he'd be given residency status. We're both utter law abiders, however, so we dotted all of our I's and crossed all of our T's and dealt with the separation and limbo of waiting for the visa to come.

And, you're right, it would make for a great inspiration for a fictional story. :)

Thanks, Paty, I am glad every single day that I/we made this leap.

Thank you, ladies, for your wonderful and heartfelt comments!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Christy,
What a lovely story, I am so glad it had a happy ending for you both.

Cheers

Margaret

Jessa Slade said...

"I still leap, of course, but now I anticipate the challenges." And maybe bring a parachute ;)

I'm thinking there's a romance novel in your story somewhere!