Our entire immigration process lasted around 2 years (read more about it HERE). As a couple under that much stress and feeling like our life together essentially depended on being approved for this visa, there were obviously some low points. We wanted to share our personal feelings about the last couple of years and let you know how we dealt with it all.
HOW I HANDLED IT:
Feeling such uncertainty really brought out some not-so-great qualities in myself. I excelled at moving to a new country (as soon as I had my cat, that is), traveling to new places and adventuring through Belgium – but the immigration stuff was a lot more stressful then I had expected.
Throughout the entire process, on any given day my emotions could go from angry and bitter to nervous and crying in about 5 minutes. Most of the days when we had immigration meetings, I was in a bad mood; even though I honestly expected positive things. I think I knew at the end of this, we would be approved. Just because I knew things would work out, doesn’t mean I handled the waiting well.
My anxiety would throw me into this little dark hole, and I would lay awake at night and my mind would race…
What if we don’t get approved?
I’ll have to move back to Canada, most likely without him because he’s still in university.
Maybe we would just break up if we don’t get approved…because I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.
And that was the ugly truth; I know I couldn’t do much more long distance. To live your lives as separately as a long distance couple has to for over 3 years was really difficult. Skype, plane tickets and holidays helped; but there was still so much that we missed out on; graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Not being able to share my whole life with the person who was most influential in it was really hard. Most long distance relationships don’t end because they stopped loving each other. They end because people give up on trying to share their lives together because it is too difficult and painful.
HOW HE HANDLED IT:
K on the other hand seemed to be more emotional towards me, in such a positive way. He was more positive about our situation, more confident about our relationship, more supportive of my anxiety and anger issues…it just seemed to bring out his MORE factor. Every part of him that I loved (his patience, his understanding, his kindness)… they were all amplified by this stressful situation we were in.
In reality, talking about it now while writing this post, K admits he felt worried almost the entire time. He felt confident about our situation because we had been together for 3 (almost 4) years. We were a real couple just trying to spend our lives together, and surely they had to see that.
He felt like everything was pointing in the right direction, but we had been let down once before (in 2013, when I had to move back to Canada without him), so he could never let himself fully believe it was going to work out, until it did.
He hid all of the worry really well, because I always felt like I was the one freaking out and he was the one calming me down.
HOW WE HANDLED IT:
K has his schooling, I have the blog and my part time job.
We’d take little 1 or 2 day vacations here in Belgium to cities we’d never been to. We’d go on spontaneous dates (like our Antwerp Candle-Lite Cruise).
We’d work in our house together, doing renovations and window-shopping for home-decor.
Not focusing on our immigration as much as we had been for the last 2 years was really healthy strategy for us. We knew we had done everything we could and now we just had to wait while they decided – so there was no point in pouring all of our energy into it anymore.
Being Honest With Each Other.
Having full on conversations (no TV, no phones, no school work, no blogging). Just an hour long conversation a few times a month about our plans. Any kind of plans; a back up plan, plans for our future, travel plans, marriage plans, plans to have a baby.
What will we do if we’re denied?
Is there another visa I can apply for here in Belgium if we’re denied?
Would you be willing to live in Canada?
When do you want to get married? Where do we want to get married?
Where do we want to have our child? Do you want to raise a child here in Belgium or in Canada?
Talking about our fears to each other was a little scary, because it’s not as re-assuring as convincing yourselves everything will work out perfectly.
Sometimes things don’t work out at all the way you want or planned. We didn’t want to get into the mindset of “We will definitely be approved…” because that’s not realistic.
Talking about our future made things feel more secure, because even if we were denied; we’d figure it out. We had plans, we were building our life together regardless of the verdict of our application.
Our Best Advice:
Don’t put your lives on hold. It’s really hard to think about a few months from now when you have no idea if you’ll still be in the same country or not – but keep your relationship going! Keep going on dates, keep planning your future together, keep investing in your relationship.
It’s true, that sometimes things don’t work out the way we thought. I never thought I’d have to move to Belgium twice before it finally stuck, but it worked out in the end. Don’t let that uncertainty keep you from living your lives together, because that will drive you apart faster then any negative application response ever could.
The TRUTH: People would ask how it was going and we would say “good”, or “fine”, but honestly, both us of admit bnow we really had no idea. Being clueless when it comes to immigration is COMPLETELY normal. You just give them the documents they ask for and hope for the best. They don’t really let you in on the process, how it works, or even keep in contact with you along the way. You deal with so many different offices, so many different people…don’t feel overwhelmed when you honestly don’t know how your immigration process is going. Because the truth is; none of us really know until we get the final answer.