There are always quirks to the inner workings of a healthy relationship that only those inside the relationship know about. Sometimes these are intimate, or in other cases, they are just simply inside jokes. It is interesting to consider the black hole that must exist when you think about the relationships of friends and family that you just don’t see – what happens behind these closed doors is oddly interesting to me; don’t get me wrong, not from a perverted perspective or a nosey perspective (I don’t actually want to know what goes on) just that I know what happens in my relationship that other people don’t know about - the mundane little ticks of a stable relationship - and wonder what mundane stuff that happens between my friends and their partners.
In my relationship with Connie, one in which we’re married and have a child on the way, we have loads of these, all normal I think. There are small ones that are subtle, worked in by habit (like remembering to lift the bathmat from the floor after I shower), and there are others, borne from ritual and conversation. Of course, I am not going to divulge all these small minutiae, because they are boring – but one thing that a lot of people won’t consider is one of the most important.
As you will no doubt be aware, Connie is Canadian. Now, how many of you have honestly considered the “how” of how she gets to stay here? Have you thought about her as an immigrant? As someone who technically has little “right” to live here? You probably haven’t because she’s just my wife, just a friend, or just six letters that appear on this blog every so often. So here’s the thing – much of our relationship has been dictated by her need to legally be able to stay here. What that entails is a shocking amount of beauracy and a scrutinising of your relationship of the like that very few other people will encounter in their life, never mind in our case which has been every two years since we started seeing each other.
You see, Connie originally didn’t come here to settle. She was on a transit visa, part of the Youth Mobility Programme, which gives out cheap and finite visas every year to commonwealth countries to allow people to go off and live a new experience. After we met, she decided that she wanted to stay here with me, which is nice – so in 2012 we applied for her to get an extension to her visa as my partner, which was granted. The couple of days around this event, where we went to Glasgow’s Home Office centre to apply in person, saw us have a short holiday to Stirling (we were living in Aberdeen at the time), have a rough night’s sleep before the interview, and then on the way home we bought Frank. It’s a pivotal moment in our history.
And this week past we have had another – you may notice that was 2 years ago, and now Connie, having lived here for 2 years as my partner, is now able to apply for Settlement or “Indefinite Leave To Remain”. This is another larger form, more money spent, and a further check to make sure that we do live together. Once this application has been accepted (we hope it will) she will be able to stay in the UK free from the prospect of her stay expiring. And, because she managed to pass the Life in the UK test in a years’ time she can apply for British Citizenship and be a dual-national of Canada and the UK.
So yeah, that’s one of our hidden things. It’s a big one, and one that someone might not even think about.