This last week the topic of one of my lessons was getting a green card. It was actually a fun topic because the man and the woman had gotten married and were now undergoing the cursory new marriage inspection. The husband was American and the wife was British. And in the lesson, the marriage was a total fake. I mean, none of their information matched up except for the fact that they had been married for three months and they both lived in New York. And it got me thinking about two things in particular.
The first being that this couple was extremely stupid! I mean, seriously, what couple who were trying to fake a marriage for a green card would not memorize about a million relationship details if they knew that they were going to be inspected? These inspectors are not stupid. The sole purpose of their work is to ferret out fake marriages. They probably have to undergo lots of intensive trainings and workshops. I am willing to bet that their certification is a practical test. The girl in the lesson, Kate, did not even know where the bathroom was. Total amateur.
My second thought was of a deeper nature. At one point in the lesson I realized how hypocritical Americans are. Yeah, imagine trying to teach that vocabulary without my students able to find the translation in their dictionary. But, surprisingly, it went quite well. But, anyway, back to the point. The standards for a legitimate green card marriage are very strict. You have to be committed to a real marriage, love only, and really work hard to make it last. If there is even a hint of question, the spouse in question can be deported. And on its own, I can certainly understand the strict rules that need to be adhered to. But, in light of the status of so many American marriages, it is so hypocritical. How often do people get married out of convenience, modern-style arranged marriages, because of pre-marital pregnancy, for money, for status, for security…the list goes on and on. The fact is that even though a lot of marriages are love-based and couples do want to make it work, there is an alarmingly growing number of marriages that are formed for anything but love. And it is completely possible and accepted for the couple in a loveless marriage to live separately. Sure, it might be the topic of gossip, but thats about as bad as it gets. So, to me, it seems unfair to judge intercultural marriages with such magnification when we as a country dont place the same value on strictly American marriage.
And of course, this is in no way an insult to my friends and family, whom I know have a deep respect for the conventions of marriage. I just wish that more people shared their views.