Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Afternoon Quickies: “Is it Rude to Get Married The Same Month as My Brother?”

Two quickies in one today!

I met my now-fiancé a year ago. He came from South Africa to work on a six-month program where I live. Within months we knew we wanted to marry each other. He was able to get his visa extended for another six months, but he had to go work in another state, which left us in a long-distance relationship for seven months. That was painful and hard, but we did it. He is now back in my town until this November, and then he will have to go back to South Africa because of the visa laws here. So we want to get married before November so he can stay here and we can be together.

The catch is my older brother is having a big wedding in November and, when I told my parents about my marriage and wedding plans, they told me we were being selfish and sabotaging my brother and his fiancé’s time and will cause a rift with my brother’s fiancée’s family, even though we plan to have just a small private ceremony at this time out of respect. How is there a right choice here? How can you choose between your family’s wishes and your own happiness? — Running Out of Time

Have you considered that your parents are using your brother’s wedding as an excuse to dissuade you from getting married? Maybe they don’t like your boyfriend or don’t approve of you getting married so quickly, and it’s easy to blame your brother’s wedding for their lack of support. Or maybe they truly think your brother and his bride would be deeply upset by your getting married around the same time as they are and “stealing their thunder.” You know how you find out the truth? Talk to your brother! Explain your situation to him (and his fiancée) and tell them how important it is to you to respect them while doing what you need to do to ensure that you and your boyfriend can stay together. Maybe they have some suggestions for you. My suggestion would be to do a courthouse wedding (just the two of you) and a ceremony at a later date, maybe in the spring.

My fiance and I are moving in with the future in-laws for a couple months to help ease our financial burden before our wedding that’s two years away. In a spur-of-the-moment decision my in-laws and my fiancé went to look at a rental house without telling me and then wanted to apply immediately. However, my fiance and I are still in our house and, until we can find new renters, we need to keep paying rent and can’t afford to pay rent for two different places. Also, we need to sign a two-year lease with my finance’s parents or we won’t get the property. I was under the impression that my fiance did not want to sign a lease for two years since a lot of things can go very wrong, but, when I called him (after he spoke to his mother), he had changed his mind! When I told him I was upset because he didn’t think to consult me/discuss his change of mind with me, he said he can’t call me all the time because he’s busy. I do realize he’s busy. I have always been aware of this, but it feels like it’s the three of them against me, and I don’t know what to do or say or how to handle this situation. — Three Against Me

 
Moving in with (future) in-laws for two years is a terrible idea. (If you need to save money for your wedding that’s two years away, get a part-time job or a roommate who isn’t a parent of you or your fiancé). An even worse idea than moving in with future in-laws for two years is continuing with plans to marry a guy who has so little regard for you that he looks at a house behind your back and and doesn’t bother to discuss with you the details of your living arrangement for the next two years. I would stay where you are, put the wedding on hold, and work on communication with the boyfriend. If things don’t improve between you two, you should move on. Honestly, there are so many red flags in this letter (boyfriend’s too busy to communicate with you; boyfriend is a mama’s boy; you don’t seem to be on the same financial page; moving in with mom and dad for a couple of months to save money for a wedding that’s two years away and then deciding that, oh, maybe we’ll move in with them for two years = super manipulative), that, if it were I, I’d move on NOW. But, then, I’d never spend over two years planning a wedding I couldn’t afford without moving in with family either.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

25 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Ale July 29, 2015, 12:39 pm

    Oh, hell yeah marry someone just to get him to stay in the country. That is always a good decision to make.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite July 29, 2015, 12:45 pm

    Nopeity nope nope, do not move into that situation, do not pass Go, do not collect that $200

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  • Ika

    Ika July 29, 2015, 12:46 pm

    WWS x 2. Especially with LW2. How could the “fiancé” (seriously?, over 2 yrs engagement? ) even think it was OK? You going along with it will just make him think that it is OK to do whatever he wants, an you will go along with it.

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    • Ika

      Ika July 29, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Oh, and “I do realize he’s busy. I have always been aware of this but it feels like it’s the three of them against me,” you do know that is not normal, not even remotely acceptable. And will only get worse living together, right?

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh July 29, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I would just talk to your brother as well LW1. If you’re planning on having a small private wedding they most likely won’t be impacted. I do agree that the argument seems flimsy on their side and like there is another reason they are unhappy with your decision to get married.
    *
    Also LW2, this is a terrible situation. Do not move in with your in-laws. If you can’t afford a wedding by doing normal savings, picking up a second, job, etc then you can’t afford your wedding. Moving in with in-laws in this type of situation sounds awful. And like Wendy I wouldn’t marry this either and I wouldn’t plan a wedding I couldn’t afford, especially one that had me living with in-laws for TWO years.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna July 29, 2015, 12:50 pm

    LW1: I don’t think having two weddings in November is such a big deal, especially if you keep yours small. If it’s a problem, you can always just go to the courthouse and celebrate later. But make sure you’re actually ready to get married after this short time. Another few months of long distance is still easier and cheaper than a divorce. Don’t just get married because it’s more convenient.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna July 29, 2015, 12:55 pm

      Also, I don’t know much about US law, but I’ve heard that the process to get a visa for a spouse is rather complicated. I hope you’ve informed yourself thoroughly about what’s required and how long it will take.

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      • call-me-hobo

        call-me-hobo July 29, 2015, 4:22 pm

        He’s actually on a student visa right now- marrying legally in the states would allow him to apply for green card status. If he goes back to his home country, they will have to apply for a fiance visa which usually takes at least 6 months to even get an agent assigned to your case and then several months of paperwork after that. She could go and get married in HIS home country, but funnily enough, it’s more difficult to bring over a spouse than it is a fiance. Also, a lot of the times they encourage fiance’s not to visit the states during that time, as not to mess up the application process.
        .
        I hope she knows how long and hard the process takes, because when my friend did it it was a NIGHTMARE (her now husband was born in Northern Ireland, and all their visa application stuff got reamed by the London Olympics. She ended up calling her senator for help (it took them a little over a year to even get an agent assigned to their case).

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  • Miel

    Miel July 29, 2015, 1:00 pm

    For LW1, I actually think this would be a great advice from Wendy if there was no immigration story behind this. But since there is the visa issue, I will advice against what Wendy said: you should not have a private wedding at the court house, you should have guests, and a dress, and a cake, and a lot of wedding pictures, because the US immigration will want to see that.

    Marrying for a green card can be done for all the right reason, but the immigration folks will have to decide if your marriage is “true” or “fake” and if you guys really love each other. They will want to see pictures of your wedding so see if it was a “real wedding”. They want to see a groom and bride that look the part, and a lot of family members to prove that this wedding is not a secret ordeal. I’m not saying that you need to pay for a big party, this can totally happen in your back yard around a BBQ, but it needs to look like a real, big deal.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna July 29, 2015, 1:05 pm

      That’s a great point. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to do this in, like, September – if it’s possible. Just before the deadline when he needs to leave the country seems a little risky. I wonder if the timeline is too rushed for it work out, simply because of the bureaucracy involved.

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    • Ika

      Ika July 29, 2015, 1:05 pm

      Oh, good point.
      It does suck that the size of a wedding would determine it’s legitimacy though. I had a tiny wedding, with a civil ceremony followed by a restaurant lunch for like 10 people, between family and friends. But my marriage is definitely real.

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    • mandalee

      mandalee July 29, 2015, 1:23 pm

      I don’t know think this is necessarily true. I know three couples (obviously small sample size and anecdotal evidence) who had one spouse who was the one who needed a Visa who had a courthouse wedding early to take care of said Visa issues and had a big celebration months, even years later, and no one had huge issues with the process. Also not everyone can afford or wants a “big wedding”, so I don’t think it’s necessary.
      .
      With one of the couples, I was even one of only two witnesses present at their courthouse wedding and was there at their big wedding two years later. The one I was a witness for they had to focus on establishing their relationship period, and that involved submitting documents that they lived together prior, visited one another when they were long distance, had a history together, etc. I’m not even sure if there was one more than one picture taken of them at their courthouse wedding because a huge trial was going on at the same time and we hightailed it out of there.

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      • Miel

        Miel July 29, 2015, 2:03 pm

        I agree with you for most of it. The immigration bureau does say couples should be able to show pictures of their relationship “for example, pictures of the wedding ceremony, the guests and the celebration” and I always thought it was a bit strange that they didn’t cite any example of “vacation pictures” or anything like that and were very focused on pictures of the wedding itself.

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      • call-me-hobo

        call-me-hobo July 29, 2015, 4:24 pm

        Yeah, they review credit card histories, plane tickets, and all that junk BEFORE you even get to the wedding part.

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      • Ika

        Ika July 30, 2015, 10:52 am

        Considering all the hoops I had to go through just for the tourist visa, I don’t even want to imagine for someone wanting to become a permanent citizen (we had to take titles to our properties and cars, proof of income, papers proving the girls go to school here, our degrees, etc)

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    • avatar

      dinoceros July 29, 2015, 4:02 pm

      If the plausibility of the couple’s relationship is shaky enough that it wouldn’t be believed without the wedding, then I’m not sure the wedding would be enough. I think the real issue is going to be that they have only been in the same physical area for a short time and that they are rushing into a marriage really quickly.

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      • avatar

        ktfran July 29, 2015, 4:38 pm

        If they can show phone records and visits within that seven-month time period, I don’t see what the problem would be. Also, being together a year does not look like rushing it to me.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros July 29, 2015, 7:05 pm

        Good point. I just assumed that if something as simple as not having an elaborate or traditional wedding was grounds for immigration not believing them, then phone records or having a long-distance relationship for a year wouldn’t be enough to satisfy immigration either. But I’m not super familiar with how that works. Just going off of implication regarding needing a wedding.

        As for rushing it, I was just referring to the fact that they are getting married during this time frame because of legal issues, not necessarily because this is when they naturally were planning to get married.

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      • avatar

        ktfran July 30, 2015, 8:27 am

        Gotcha. And yeah, one would hope that immigration would look at the full picture… but then again, you never know and could get a crappy representative.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie July 30, 2015, 10:57 pm

        I don’t think they necessarily need a traditional wedding over a courthouse wedding, but it’s one of those things that wouldn’t hurt and may give the LW more peace of mind. The other relationship evidence will most likely be enough regardless of type of wedding, but the waiting process is nerve-wracking as it is without second guessing themselves if it would’ve made their case stronger to have a traditional wedding. (Especially if the wedding happened due to visa expiration versus when they’d have it under normal circumstances!)

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    • Cassie

      Cassie July 30, 2015, 10:46 pm

      Agreed. LW1, you can have a small, inexpensive ceremony, but to prove the bona fides of your marriage, it’s best to have something that you can take pictures of. Also print out any communications between the two of you establishing a relationship (Facebook messages, text messages, etc.), pictures of the two of you throughout your relationship, or if you have any bills together (perhaps consider establishing a residence together soon, before you get married so you can show joint bills, bank accounts, etc.). You can also have friends or family write affidavits about your relationship as another proof. I completely understand why you would rather marry sooner than you wanted, instead of having him go back to South Africa and needing to file for the K1 visa which is costly, time-consuming, and can be arduous.

      As for your family’s reaction of stealing your brother’s thunder? They’ll get over it. Just don’t parade it around, and think about having the wedding in October so it’s in a different month (and will give you more time to gather and file all the paperwork in time). Most people will understand the circumstances.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie July 30, 2015, 10:59 pm

        Also: If you haven’t started on the paperwork, start gathering it, making sure you understand everything and know what you need, and get as much of it done now as you can!

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 29, 2015, 3:59 pm

    To be honest, if I were LW 1’s brother, I would feel manipulated if she came to me to ask what she should do. Because what can you really say? A lot of times the most appropriate thing is to make a decision that’s respectful without someone else telling you to do it.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 29, 2015, 4:46 pm

    I would never marry someone who makes important decisions with their parents rather than their partner. At most, he could ask his parents for advice but the final decision should be made by the two of you without his parents. The two of you should look at the options together, not him with his parents. The two of you should talk about your budget and the two of you should make a decision. His parents shouldn’t be involved in any major decision. If he can’t cut his parents out of the process you shouldn’t marry him. Definitely put the marriage on hold. Don’t pick a date. His excuse about being too busy is just an excuse. He had plenty of time to go look at things with his parents but none to do the same with you. In his mind you don’t count when it comes to making decisions. He decides, with his parents, and you accept it. I would never want to live my life that way and since you wrote a letter asking for advice I don’t think you want to do that either. I would refuse to move in with him or to sign a lease with him. Don’t put your name on anything. Tell him that you can’t plan a marriage with a man who leaves you out of major decisions. Do not go along with this plan if you intend to ever be included in decision making.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 July 30, 2015, 2:03 am

    LW2, he’s trampling over you. He’s too “busy” to talk to you, but not too busy to look at houses and make all those decisions? “Busy” is only acceptable for things like he can’t call you during lunch. It is absolutely NOT ok for a big decision that will affect your living and financial situation for 2 years. Don’t move in with him. Don’t even marry him. Imagine living your life in crushing debt, evicted from place after place, and you having no say in any of it. All while he claims to be too “busy” to even ask how you feel about something.

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