So you are in love abroad or maybe your partner is… and you sit there thinking about the visa process and probably asking yourself about a million questions about taking this leap. I asked the same questions and my family and friends asked me a million as well. For a moment now, take a step back from the visa process and look at something bigger, which may seem impossible considering how HUGE the visa process seems. But something bigger, creating a life with someone who has chosen to leave their home to create a home with you. If it seems like a lot of pressure, I don’t mean to scare you. I just want to help you prepare for the road ahead and know that it will take work but it is so so worth it.
Here are some things to consider before the arrival of your partner from abroad:
- How will they spend their time before they are able to work? And once they can work, what will they do? Start looking around now. Are there English classes they can take or another course that could help their career path? When Eric arrived I took some time off to help him get acclimated or at least a little comfortable before I had to spend my days away from him. Once I returned I had found classes at a local organization that offered English, GED and other enrichment programs. He took English and a culinary class and made friends from all over the world. He seemed happy and enjoyed this opportunity. If I remember correctly his green card arrived about seven months later and he was able to work.
- How will they get around? Drive? Public Transport? If your partner drives in their country, look into an international drivers license which will enable them to drive in some states for up to one year. This was a great decision for Eric and I as we do not live in an area with public transport. Eric did not however have much driving experience so we really had to work on this. I am good at a lot of things but my patience in teaching how to drive is probably not my next career path. Go easy on each other.
- Culture and Community. Something we are still trying to figure out and you should consider with great care. Are you living in an area where your partner can thrive or could you consider a move? We decided to live in my home-town when Eric arrived because I had a network of people that could help welcome him, find him jobs and help with driving us around because we had one car. While there is not much culture here, we have a good community surrounding us and jobs with people we love. And we are trying to bring the culture here. It has been difficult for Eric to connect with others and make friends but we continue to work on trying to set up Ghanaian dance classes and invite others over to create culture in our own home. We also think about moving into a city where we would have more access to the things that make us both smile. But… I do love the ocean and the forest and this cute New England town.
- Don’t forget you. I have to remind myself too. Over the years I have been consumed with working on trying to set up a life for us that would make us all happy. I continue to worry about my husbands happiness as I know all he has left behind. But he also gained a beautiful life here and I have to continue to remember and cherish that. I’m working on not letting the worry consume me so I can just be here… with him and our little family and life we are growing. What do I do when I get a bit worried about him and his happiness? I try and find an event or workshop he would love to go to, he loves dance, performance and music; or we drive about an hour away to a Ghanaian restaurant and grocery store and fill up on all things Ghana.
The moral of this story… it is ongoing. Your life and love is now blended and it’s a beautiful opportunity to have to work with someone from a different culture to create a balance. It takes great work, as all partnerships do. Be gentle with each other. Be strong individuals and know that you may need to change up what you know your life to be here in the States. Maybe it’s a new home, maybe it is frequent travel to your partners country, maybe it’s staying up late and talking about the difficulties and the beautiful times. We are here with you.