Hello everybody, welcome to episode 177 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on whether our listener should marry her boyfriend to get him U.S. citizenship.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now we’ve got a very unique question today which I always love. Our asker today is torn about whether or not she should marry someone for the sake of helping him get American citizenship. This isn’t a friend doing another friend a solid, however. They’ve been dating for a little while now, but all this talk is quite new and overwhelming for her. Let’s hear her explain further and try to do what we can…
QUESTION: “I’m having a hard time deciding whether I should marry this guy I'm dating so he can stay in the country. We’ve been seeing each other for over a year. He had gone back to Mexico at the end of January 2020 and was unable to come back to the states until mid October.
My mother currently lives in Mexico too, and I flew there in the beginning of October to see both of them, and also meet my boyfriend’s family. It gave me a chance to see where he comes from and the kind of lifestyle he’s used to.
My mom thinks he’s a good person but she did tell me to proceed with caution because she says that sometimes people from foreign countries can take advantage of a person just because they are a US citizen. A close family friend agreed with that.
I never really thought about it because when we started seeing each other it wasn’t so serious. But we stayed in touch and once I went to visit is when we decided to make things serious. It’s a very long process with a lot of requirements and I’m just not sure it’s a good idea.”
Remove Citizenship from the Equation
Sticky situation. Thank you, asker, for sending this in. I could see why this would be weighing on you a lot. Lucky for you (well, maybe) I actually have pretty clear and concise thoughts around this. Not feeling as vague today as I usually do.
I really believe that you’re going to get a lot of clarity on this if you simply remove everything about his citizenship from the equation and ask yourself if you’re ready to marry him regardless. If the citizenship wasn’t an issue at all and he was an American citizen right now, would you want to marry him?
If you don’t look at the question through this lens, you’re more asking yourself if you want to do a favor for him. And like all favors, you have to ask yourself what it means for you in addition what it means for the person you’re doing it for.
This favor is one that could easily result in exhaustion for you, not to mention heartbreak since you’re romantically attached to him and there seems to be some reasonable suspicion that he’s not as romantically attached to you.
With that in mind, I’m seeing a lot of potential regret here if you don’t marry him simply because you’d want to marry him anyway.
Reflect on His Family and Upbringing
And if you’re unsure of if you’d want to marry him anyway? Well, I guess I’d tell you to reflect on what you thought of his family and upbringing (though those don’t always define who people are now).
I’d tell you to reflect on what you think of his lifestyle both in the U.S. and in Mexico. I’d tell you to reflect on whether or not the rush of seeing each other in person for the first time in a while might be clouding your judgment. I’d tell you a lot of things.
But realistically, you already know the answer. Forget what everyone else is doing. Something as big as marriage, as well as many much smaller things in life, should only be pursued if enthusiasm is through the roof and it’s a hard yes.
Think about the type of commitment you’d be making to someone, how much of your life and identity would change with marriage. Is that something you’re going to go through with if you’re on the fence about it? No way.
Second Thoughts on Marriage and Citizenship
Obviously you’re having some second thoughts about this right now. You like him. But you just don’t like him enough to marry him yet OR you think you like him enough but you’re mistaken because this citizenship thing is enough of a headache that you’re not sure you want to go through it for the man you supposedly love.
Either way, my advice is not to marry him, at least not yet. Either of the scenarios I just mentioned can change. Maybe, with more time together, they will and marriage will be the right call. That would be wonderful. But right now, I really don’t see it.
I don’t know how the conversation to make things more serious was initiated or whose idea it was, but the fact that it’s escalated from not serious to talks of marriage in the two months between seeing him and submitting this question doesn’t totally convince me that it’s progressing naturally.
That makes me think it’s being rushed along because he’s not a citizen and wants to be one. Maybe you do marry him and it happens to work out, but to me, it’s too much in question to go through with that right now.
Questions You Could Ask
If I were you, I’d be honest and run the uncertainty by him. He’ll respond in one of three ways:
One, he’ll say something along the lines of “It’s ok, you’ll get more comfortable with it” and try to keep pushing you into it.
This is a red flag. No one who has a truly healthy love for someone will want to get married if that someone is iffy about it.
Two, he’ll be upset with you and not be receptive to your feelings or understand where you’re coming from.
Needless to say, this is also a red flag and similar to the last one because he’s either disrespectful of your needs or just in a rush to get his citizenship.
Or three, the good one. If he’s indeed a good guy who just liked you for you and sees an opportunity for citizenship as a secondary, circumstantial benefit to being with you, then he’ll understand you wanting you to marry him because you’re ready to and not just to grant him citizenship.
If he responds this way, it would not be a reason to rush into if you’re not ready to just because he’s proven himself to care about your needs, but it would definitely be a good sign.
Of course there would be the off-chance that he’s a really good actor and just playing the long game with this lie, but if you stick with him, that’ll be more and more likely to come out anyway.
Thanks again to the woman who sent this question in. I really hope this episode was able to give you some clarity. I know it’s a hard place for you to be in, but really, I think that what was covered today really ensures that you’re doing what’s best for you and your desires across the board.
You now have three sources that are telling you essentially the same thing, two of which are people who have loved you and looked after you for a long time. Surely matters of the heart can be difficult to deal with, but it seems like a time in which to trust those who can look at this from the outside in.
And if you have further questions about it, you can come on back and we’ll be happy to look into this further. Whatever we can do.
Thanks so much everyone for being here today. I highly appreciate it as always. Have a great start to your week and be sure to come on back for the Wednesday show. I’ll see you all there.