Defining the purpose of marriage

Nicki and I are almost done compiling our evidence of “marital bona fides.” Since our marriage is bona fide, the question has been what evidence would be good. But a part of me (probably an academic in me that gets me into trouble) finds it interesting that the request of evidence letter seems to equate miss the reality of marriage by setting only two categories: bona fide and an attempt to go around the immigration law.

People marry for various reasons. Many marry for love. But many also marry for other reasons or for more than one reason. After all, marriage as an institution offers a socially agreed-upon set of benefits. “Rather than waiting for another two years, let’s get married this year so you will be covered under my insurance” is not a rare conversation topic. “I love you but we’ve been dating for 7 years. Marry me now or we will break up,” has a factor of pragmatism in addition to just love. Some old couples marry because they want each other’s presence, not necessarily the kind of “love” 20-year-olds are feeling.

Many people no longer believe in marriage as an institution. They are happy living together. But if one person is a foreigner, even though the couple does not believe in marriage, they may get married. They’re living together and being happy because of love, but they’re marrying because of the immigration law.

I’m really happy being married and I’m happy when I get to call Nicki my wife, but the way the immigration office looks at marriage seems a bit too simplistic or unrealistic. “Just prove to us that you love your spouse” is what they’re basically saying, but their letter (or the way it is written) implicates the office’s prejudice.

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