What transnational couples really need

They say that marriage is a major milestone in one’s life. A marker of true adulthood.

Whoever ‘they’ are, they’re right. As Facebook puts it, marriage is a “life event”. It’s a big deal. It’s also one of the hardest things that two people can do with their lives.

Our wedding in Scotland this July.

Our wedding in Scotland this July.

As if that’s not enough, there are things that can add another layer of difficulty. Being a transnational couple is one of those things. You would imagine that, with globalisation and international movement being a fact of life in today’s world, it would be easy for two people with different nationalities to marry and make their home anywhere. That assumption is wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, one does not get permanent residency just on the basis of being married to a citizen of that country – at least, not in the UK (where my husband’s from) or Singapore (where I’m from).

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#Calirsten: Looking back on our wedding

The Wedding Cake

Our Hans Solo and Princess Leia Lego Minifigure cake toppers.

The house feels quiet now, after the utter madness of the week before. Everyone who travelled to Dunblane for the wedding has now gone, the whirlwind stilled. There will be another mini-whirlwind this weekend as Calum and I pack for our honeymoon and move back to Singapore, but for now there’s a moment to sit down and think about everything that’s happened.

Of the ceremony itself I find myself focusing on and remembering tiny details. The way my dad gripped my hand tighter than I held his. The fact that I barely recognised Calum’s friends as I came down that long, long aisle. The two tiny spots of blood on Calum’s shirt collar from where he had nicked himself shaving. The undone button on the minister’s robe. How blessedly cool it was inside the cathedral, because it had been boiling in the tiny room we were getting ready in and roasting outside (thank you, random heatwave in usually cool-and-rainy Scotland).

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The day before

My eyebrows hurt.

Yesterday a very kind, precise lady attacked my eyebrows with a piece of thin white thread, showing no mercy to any wild, scruffy strand. She did it slowly, going at half the speed of the usual threading sessions I’ve had. My eyebrows were red and raw by the time I finally left her chair.

But at least I have neat, even eyebrows for the wedding now.

People keep asking me if everything is organised and ready, or if I’m nervous. The questions are simultaneously understandable and mildly irritating. I never really know what to say in response. There is no answer that is both accurate and satisfactory, and so I often opt for the cop-out: a smile, a “yeah, it’s pretty much done” and a trailing off that suggests that I could say more… but I don’t.

The truth is that I’m good, but wake up early in the morning with what feels like every molecule of my body dancing around under my skin as if they’re thinking of bursting out through my pores. I spend the daytime going through practical lists of tasks, ticking them off one-by-one as if it was yet another project to fix. I spend the nighttime counting down the days and the hours, unsure of what that emotion I’m feeling actually is.

It feels as if a blog post is needed to mark this occasion, the last day on which I tick “Single” on government forms. But it doesn’t feel like there’s that much to write about: I don’t think things are going to be hugely different after the wedding. Are they?

I don’t know. I’m guessing not, but will await a blog entry post-wedding to confirm.

Wedding