There will come a time in every relationship where at least the discussion of marriage will come up. Whether you and your partner decide to take that step is a personal one that only you both can decide. Marriage by no means assures a stronger bond for your relationship. After all, data shows that in many countries marriages are more likely to end in divorce than stand the test of time.
However, it is important to note that in the case of an international relationship, marriage often offers one of the best if not only ways for couples in a long distance relationship to obtain a visa to be able to immigrate to a foreign country so you both can live together permanently.
Getting Engaged or Married to Your Long Distance Relationship Boyfriend or Girlfriend
Many people view marriage today as a symbol of a couple’s love for each other, but love and companionship is not always the motivating factors which lead to people wanting to get married. For some, getting married may be a chance to elevate their status or they may seek it for financial reasons. Others may think it is their duty to get married based on their religious beliefs or they may simply be a single parent wanting extra support to raise their child or children.
The fact is, throughout history marriage has continually evolved and taken on different meanings to different cultures. This is something to keep in mind if you are dating someone with different cultural values to your own. The one thing marriage has always had in common, however, is that it signifies some sort of commitment. Whether you marry for love, find it arranged by your family, or seek some sort of security that marriage often provides, a marriage is generally supposed to last forever. Although eternal marriage may be the ultimate goal, that sadly is not always the reality. This causes some people to not believe in marriage and instead they may seek out a domestic partnership instead.
While many people look forward to marriage as an ultimate life objective, you can’t take it for granted these days that it is something every person is going to want. Just because you would love nothing more than to marry your partner, this doesn’t mean they will have the same thoughts regarding marriage. It may not be that they don’t love you, rather they simply may not be comfortable with the idea of marriage. If you strongly support the idea marriage and it is a non-negotiable requirement for you to remain in the relationship, then you need to express this to your partner. You don’t want to waste your time on a relationship where you strongly desire marriage and your partner does not.
When it comes to long distance relationships and marriage, most cases will involve a couple who generally love each other. While there are cases of marrying simply to gain citizenship in another country, many nations have now made this a very long and difficult process which has begun to deter the practice. Keeping a long distance relationship is often challenging and bringing marriage into the equation can make things all that more complicated, especially when a couple finds themselves being citizens of two different countries. For couples in international relationships, marriage is often the only way to make living together indefinitely a possibility.
You may arrive at wanting to get married long before your partner does. If this happens, it’s important not to use your partner’s unwillingness to get married as a gauge of whether they are truly committed to a relationship. Some people may have very strong feelings when it comes to their desire or lack thereof to get married and you need to respect those feelings. A person’s reluctance to get married may be a result of their previous marriage history or could have come about through observing their parents’ relationship. Just because your partner may not be ready for marriage now doesn’t mean they will never want to get married in the future. This is of course unless they explicitly make that clear, in which case you need to decide whether you are happy to continue with the relationship.
While it may be just a formality in the form of a slip of paper, marriage can have a huge psychological impact for many people and can easily cause a big rift in the relationship if one person wants to get married and the other does not.
Getting Engaged in a Long Distance Relationship
When it comes to long distance relationships and engagement, things aren’t all that different from traditional relationships. After all, an engagement is simply a formal agreement to get married that doesn’t require any permits or paperwork. Getting engaged is simply a way to show each other that you are both truly committed to making your long distance relationship work.
I proposed to Megan literally the third time we met in person during my first visit to meet her family in Australia. From my point of view, I didn’t want to waste my time or emotions on something that wasn’t serious. By this time we had been an official couple for roughly six months and I already knew our long distance relationship would be a long difficult one. I wanted to be sure we were both on the same page before I committed to the arduous journey.
Most people envision purchasing or receiving a big fancy ring when they think of the word engagement but this shouldn’t be what getting engaged is about. I proposed to Megan without a ring and received a “yes”, proving a ring isn’t a strict requirement. A ring was eventually purchased, but Megan’s lack of needing one really spoke volumes on her true feelings for me and our relationship.
Planning a wedding can of course be a large undertaking, but dealing with the issue of relocation for couples in a long distance relationship can be equally trying. Relocation becomes an even bigger issue for those in an international relationship. Gone are the days when you could simply marry someone and then move to their country with ease. Nowadays many countries like the United States and Australia make the process of immigration very difficult and expensive. It is for this reason that I recommend discussing with your partner the logistics involved with immigration issues before focusing on and planning your wedding.
Megan and I on the other hand didn’t really talk about immigration after we became engaged nor did we discuss where or when we would get married. We didn’t really know how we were going to make our long distance relationship work at the time; we simply knew we were committed to eventually finding a way. That is what our engagement meant to us. It didn’t so much give us excitement for a wedding, rather it was simply the first official step to finding a way to be together forever.
Getting Married in a Long Distance Relationship
The definition of marriage is continually being debated around the world and the fact is there will never be a universal definition that is accepted by all people. Many people and cultures believe marriage should be solely defined as a union between a single man and single woman. This sadly often makes it very difficult for same-sex couples to obtain things like spousal visas depending on which country they come from or which country they are applying for. How marriage became defined as something that should only be available to heterosexual couples and how this became such a strong belief shared by so many is quite odd when you consider just how much marriage and the ideas surrounding it have changed over the years.
For instance, there have been numerous cultures around the world where polygamy was and still is considered normal and acceptable. It is common for some cultures for high status men to have quite a number of wives and there are instances in some cultures where it was or still is equally acceptable for a woman to have several husbands. Even marrying someone within your own family can be accepted and even encouraged within some cultures. For instance, marrying your cousin in Middle Eastern countries accounts for over half of all marriages and you are still allowed to marry your first cousin in more than half of the states in the U.S. Such practice is viewed as incestuous and deemed illegal in other countries such as China.
Historically, marriage was also often viewed as a way to guarantee that a man’s children were truly his biological heirs. Women were treated more like property where they would be gifted to a man simply to produce heirs. If they were unable to do so, they could be given back to their families much like taking a broken item back to a store.
As time progressed, thankfully many cultures began to realize the importance of educating men to be respectful of their wives and remain sexually faithful to them. Where once a woman’s role in a marriage was simply to produce and care for children as well as tend to the household, women began to gain more equal rights. Today, men in many cultures share an equal amount of responsibility when it comes to raising kids and performing household chores. We still may have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, but hopefully one day we will find gender discrimination a thing of the distant past.
Many cultures practice endogamy which requires marriages to be between two people that come from the same social group, ethnic group, family, or tribe. People outside of the group are seen as unsuitable for marriage or getting involved with. Those who marry outsiders may be cut off from society. Long distance relationships are quite the opposite of this and are known as exogamous relationships. This involves marrying someone outside of your geographical region or social group.
It is very important to realize that marriage is defined differently in different parts of the world. This realization becomes important should you fall in love or begin a relationship with someone from another state or country. You have to be aware that the love you share for each other may not be accepted by each other’s family or the countries you each reside in. As tragic or wrong as this may be, it is unlikely you will be able to easily change laws or ingrained cultural beliefs.
If you find you and your long distance partner come from different religious backgrounds, you may face backlash from your families. When it comes to marriage and raising children, you and your partner’s own differing beliefs could prove to be a problem you both need to overcome as well. That’s not to say that you cannot overcome any of these obstacles, but you should be aware that they may become obstacles nonetheless.
When it comes to long distance relationships, solidifying your bond through marriage may not always be easy or possible. You have to closely analyze your own situation and ask yourselves how much you both are willing to sacrifice or struggle to succeed in becoming an officially married couple. Same-sex couples may find themselves no alternative to living in a country where same-sex marriage is not legal. You may also fall in love with someone from a country where it is impossible for you or them to obtain a visa to move to each other’s country. Sadly, the fact is that love is often simply not enough to sway governments to allow you to be together.
For some long distance couples, getting married will prove to be quite an easy process. Other couples will be faced with an excruciatingly difficult process that may take a huge emotional toll on both of you and your relationship together. It would be wonderful if love and determination were the only ingredients you needed for a long distance relationship to work, but the reality is that many relationships break apart under the strain of legalities or social prejudices. It is important for loving couples to be able to express their love, and therefore having the ability to marry is often a large part of that. When laws tell you that you cannot marry the love of your life, it can have a detrimental impact.
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