15 April 2016

The hardest thing

I was asked by a friend recently what was the hardest thing about being married to somebody from abroad was and my initial reply was to say 'Nothing really - he's British'.

And then I realised they didn't mean culturally. (Though the Brits do have some very definite quirks that can drive somebody from the land down under quite bonkers.  Whereas we are clearly perfect.*)

It's a good question and I know why they posed the question. My in-laws are currently in residence for a couple of weeks for their annual immersion in grandchildren and chaos, and my brother and his wife are packing up their family and moving back to her native Canada for a few years. In addition we are surrounded by couples that consist of two individuals from different countries. And then we have some friends that married people from the Shire too which is like another country. And down south, we have another friend who is French who has moved to Australia with her Kiwi spouse and kidlets and is busy settling into another new country with its own unique approach to paperwork.

So paperwork is obviously hard.  As is the cost of the paperwork.  When you fall in love with somebody from overseas you basically just give the government money for years and years to prove that you like them enough to continue to do so.  Doesn't matter which government it is, they clearly do not subscribe to the theorem that love don't cost a thing.

Having your family and friends on the other side of the world is hard. Doesn't matter where you live you probably have a whole lot of people who are part of your happiness that are living somewhere else.  Modern technology and social media make it easier to keep in touch but it's not the same. Ideally somebody will get that teleporting thing cracked so if my husband decides to have a beer with his best mate, neither of them have to fly for 24 hours. The time difference thing might still suck, but hell - drinking before 10am is a small price to pay for teleporting.

Language is hard for some.  Even though we both speak English we don't use it in the same way. Just getting dressed is convoluted sometimes by the time you steer safely through thongs and pants and undies and flip flops and the like.  Our children are bilingual though which is a blessing. They say both flip-flops and thongs and know that a duvet and a doona are the same thing.  When you add in what Dora is teaching them we're pretty much parents of the year.

You also have to accept that their mother will never ever forgive you for not being local. It's got nothing to do with whether they like you. It is the fact that if you're not living near them they've not got their son/daughter nearby, and then when you have their grandchildren abroad you might as well stand there and rip their beating hearts from their chests and hold it aloft while cackling maniacally.  My brother and his wife have cracked this though - they take turns breaking their mothers hearts which seems quite egalitarian of them really when you think about it.

Strangely, politics is hard. Even when you are both bleeding heart lefties, the way that can play out is quite different. When you are watching the decisions your country makes from abroad and the only way you can make your feelings known is by howling at your smartphone, falling to your knees and screaming "WHHHHHHHHY?". As a person abroad, how your country purports itself really impacts people's perceptions of you as an individual.  And let's face it, every person from a country that doesn't currently have Justin Trudeau planking on his prime ministerial desk is basically feeling the pain.

But you know, when you love somebody - it is what it is. I have never known of anybody bar Colin Frissell choose love based on nationality. 17,000 kilometres isn't that far really thanks to those that invented aeroplanes and it'll be irrelevant when that teleporting thing gets sorted out.

So if she asks me again, I'll say the hardest thing about being married to a person from abroad is he never puts the sugar away. Drives me effing bonkers.

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*tongue firmly in cheek people.