If you've moved to another country to be with your partner, you may have said the words, "It's your fault I'm here," and if your partner has moved to be with you, then you may have heard them said back to you. This is never a nice thing to hear, and I know many of us don't handle ourselves as well as we'd like in stressful situations — unfortunately, immigration is full of situations just like that. If you've said or heard this statement, I recommend you continue reading a bit more.
In the process of immigrating to be with your loved one, there is no shortage of sources of frustration. In the K-1 process, there is the separation, the expense, the uncertainty, and all of that is just before the visa itself is granted. If and when the interview is successful and your partner has visa in hand, unfortunately, the frustrations don't end there. When your partner enters the US and you are married, there is still more waiting that happens while the next set of paperwork is being processed. During this time, employment authorization hasn't been granted yet, so in addition to being far from home and family, your partner also isn't able to look for employment and make money.
Major transitions are challenging for all of us, and there's no denying that this is one seriously major transition. You may be feeling more tension in your relationship and find yourself arguing with your partner more.
Maybe you're wondering if you were wrong about married life — it seems harder than you expected, and you're not sure if you're cut out for it.
Here's one little mindset shift that makes all the difference in situations like this. You (or whichever partner has immigrated) need to find a way to say (and mean!) this sentence: "I'm here for me, not you."
Shift the blame off of your spouse, and think of reasons that it is good for you personally to be where you are. Are there new career opportunities available to you? Have you always wanted to travel in this part of the world? Are you excited to improve your language abilities or make new friends?
When you are in a place because of someone else, then you can blame them for the good and bad things that happen to you, and it leaves you feeling like you aren't in charge of your own life. When we had challenges during this stage of our K-1 process, I would tell my husband, "I want you to be happy. You don't have to be here." If I'd taken the hard line that he had no choice but to be here in the US with me, feeling like a prisoner, we'd still be struggling with that blame game.
He took those little words and ran with them, and I give him full credit for coming up with that magic sentence: "I'm here for me, not you." He chose to be where we are now, and encourages me to have the same mindset about visits with his family in Turkey.
While there are things that are done out of obligation and that does sometimes include family visits, relationships based on obligation don't flourish like those based on choice. Spending time with your partner's family or moving to their country just to make them happy won't be successful if they don't make you happy, too.
You don't want to be the ball and chain, dragged along behind unwillingly. Choose to be where you are, and then show up fully present. If you need to remind yourself that this is, in fact, a choice, then do that. Talk with your partner, and sit out the next Sunday dinner or trip back to the village. Remind yourself that your happiness is a choice and that you and your partner aren't joined at the hip. It's okay to take some time alone, to sit out a family obligation, and then jump back into the next one fully engaged.