2012 — In a dim-lit ballroom, our guests enjoyed fresh fruit and decadent chocolate. They patiently awaited the joining of our families in a testament to our love with the most sacred ceremonies in Hinduism. The altar was a floral mandap in the stunning shades of blush pink, surrounded by candlelight, and draped fabric, each detail I had envisioned for a decade. We sat under a crystal chandelier, adorned in traditional attire, with the presence of Agni (the divine fire), and serenaded by Sanscrit scripture. We wedded in the motion of forever. But, we divorced.
For the outsiders and the family members alike, it gets very uncomfortable, and it gets complicated. It gets challenging to acknowledge the issues that make us human. But for that couple, for that family, it’s an all-out crash-and-burn situation. And it hurt like hell.
The Layers Behind a Wedding
We celebrated with a thousand guests, yet less than 90 percent stayed true to relations. For my ex-husband and I, it was an eye-opening experience of all kinds. I became especially attuned to the lack of genuine fellowship in our communities. Most of my relationships were just a facade. During a time in my life, my ex-husband’s life, and our son’s life, when we needed some of our people the most, they walked out.
One thing is for sure; I am not alone in this sentiment. Historically, our culture has buried authenticity and replaced it with pride and survival, and what is missing is a genuine connection. It’s time for a transformation.
Luxury has indeed understated real work, failure, and success in modern relationships. With the average South-Asian wedding exceeding $200,000 in expenses, the checkbook is not the only thing worn out. Many of us have the honor of attending these lavish wedding ceremonies. We enjoy the extravagance as we snap beautiful images. Sharing the air in such intimacy, we are all present to the love and majestic qualities that make up the auspicious occasions. Soon, the newlyweds move on, away from the spotlight as they joyously begin their new life. In a way, guests disconnect from the newlyweds.
The Underlying Truth
The glitz and glam draw you into the illusion of perfection, but many relationships become much more dynamic after marriage. The couple’s early years will include some of the most challenging moments of their relationship. Living together for the first time. Testing what it means to be genuinely compatible. Questioning if they do have the same values. These are not impossible feats but are unlike the romantic courting season before the wedding. Yet it is necessary to overcome the likely next transition – starting a family.
It matters not if you are fifteen years strong, two years newlywed, or five years post-divorce: there is a sure-fire bond of love that formed many years ago, and it continues to transform. Although some of us may love with everything we have from a distance, most of us stick it out through the ups and downs. It takes courage to admit that you have relationship struggles that are slowly eating away at your existence. Notably, in a culture where asking for help or acknowledging problems is perceived as the last line option – because hey, what will they say?
The Path to Healing + Love
Each human will experience success and failure throughout their lives, and each encounter will add depth to who they are. That’s what makes being human so unique, that we are the same, at the level of being human. We all need uplifting from time to time, especially the ones that had it all together, especially the ones that had the perfect love stories, especially the ones that had the most trendsetting wedding ceremonies, and especially the ones that lived the ideal lives.
Fortunately, many people in our lives stood the test of time and friendship. If only, all the people I truly loved made that decision, too. Still, I’m thankful our families are all doing well despite the circumstances. We remain hopeful as we tread into new territory with the utmost grace. Without question, it was with the gentle, kind gestures that will never be forgotten.
You may only have one opportunity to acknowledge the struggle in the lives of your loved ones. Instead of curious gossip and unsolicited advice, be there for others. This concept isn’t just concerning my life and my divorce, but with our shared human experience, professionally and personally. We walk out on people all the time. When they lose their jobs, have a chronic illness, or when we don’t agree with their path in life. Lean into the discomfort and proceed with love.
Commit to standing for loyalty. We must probe when our loved ones seem different, and we must stand for the undying love that we all value so highly – because the world needs you at your highest frequency of love and joy. Choose love, eternal love for you, for us, for our children, and our longevity as a society.
Read more about how to show up for people during stressful circumstances on Asmini’sblog post.
These days, the phrase, “love knows no bounds” doesn’t seem to hold true. For many couples, specifically, those in long-distance relationships, the lengthy and complicated immigration process can keep lovers apart for six to 24 months. Well, aside from the thousands and thousands of miles of the deep ocean in between. I’ve been there; I have been an immigration attorney for 10 years and I found love abroad (my wife was living in the UK when we met).
I was flying across the Atlantic every few months so, as you can imagine, dating was quite expensive (though she quite liked the fact that for our first intentional visit, I paid several thousand pounds for a global migration conference as an excuse for flying over).
Marriage immigration is complex and costly. The eligibility and procedural requirements are confusing and require multiple long and complicated application forms over the course of six to eight years: from fiancé(e) or spouse visa through adjustment of status process, the Removal of Conditions Application, and thereafter applying for U.S. citizenship.
To put it in perspective, many immigration applications end up being 200-300 pages long. For you to know exactly what you need can be either extremely expensive — using an attorney, who typically charges $2,000-$12,000 per application (not including government-filing fees) — or time-consuming learning how to DIY. If you opt for the latter, it is quite scary to have to figure out the requirements and procedures and follow up with case status checks in hopes of finally getting some peace of mind that your case is progressing as it should.
The worst part? The grueling wait. Waiting while not knowing how long until you can bring love home; waiting to start a family — the next chapter of your life. You keep hearing people say, “life is short!” and you thought that you finally found a partner you want to spend it with. Unfortunately, life (bureaucratic procedures) get in the way.
The combination of distance and long immigration processing times puts our next chapter ‘on pause’ while we do everything we can to bridge the gap — the gap that effectively challenges our ability to build a ‘real’ relationship. Or did it? Is there a test for this kind of thing? I mean, apparently, the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS) seems to know what a “real” relationship is and tests ours against some “standard” to determine if it is genuine enough to grant a fiancé(e) visa or spousal green card. What makes a strong Fiancé(e) or Spouse visa application? I’ve experienced love; I am human. What do they want from me to bring my partner home?
I have been a U.S. immigration lawyer for over 10 years and I myself found love abroad and firsthand had to go through the process of bringing my spouse home to the United States. My wife is an NRI who grew up in the Philippines and lived in London where we met (more on how our meddlesome Indian families instigated our “meet-cute” in a future article). Having recently gone through this journey, and having helped hundreds of immigrant couples over the years, it became obvious that there had to be a better way. It should not be expensive, unaffordable, or overly complicated for you to bring your loved one home to become a family.
When we were apart, we did everything from waking each other up in the middle of our respective nights, with the time difference, to one partner falling asleep with the other on the phone. We watched movies together on Netflix. We made travel plans and talked about what the future would look like. We craved each other and expressed our love daily, maybe even hourly.
The future can be uncertain for any couple, but perhaps even more so for those in a long-distance relationship. When one partner is waiting for a spousal visa or fiancé visa, there can be a lot of anxiety and stress about the process and wait times. Even one mistake can set the whole process back months or even years and, if you are not familiar with the process, there’s always the overhanging uncertainty of whether or not the visa will be approved altogether.
In today’s globalized world where borders are becoming less relevant than ever before, largely thanks to technological advances which allow individuals across countries via Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype chats without having left home, there is more of a need for a streamlined immigration tech platform that helps “modern” couples who are dating long-distance with the help of technology.
The number one reason Fiancé(e) visa or Spouse visa applications are denied is lack of documentation evidencing your relationship/intent to marry. This article shows what evidence you can provide USCIS to prove you have a genuine relationship and thereby strengthen your visa application. OurLoveVisa.com is an immigration attorney-designed platform that provides free tools and features to help couples going through the U.S. K-1 or marriage visa process plan, manage, and track their immigration journey. Many couples going through the K-1 fiancé visa process, or CR-1/IR-1 spouse visa process, have found its relationship timeline tool, which is as easy to use as Instagram, helpful in building their application. The best part: it’s free to use. The OurLoveVisa.com platform was built so you can focus on what is truly important, your relationship!
The long, unreasonable immigration processing/wait times are definitely another topic for discussion and, as time goes on, I will continue to share and elaborate on my and my wife’s joint and individual journeys through marriage, immigration, and closing the gap from our long-distance relationship. In the meantime, I hope the information provided will bring value to you and your journey.