Forget what you’ve learned in romantic comedies. (I don’t know how many times I’m going to find myself saying that! God that’s depressing.) But seriously, there is a secret path to love and marriage that is sad, logistically complex and ultimately completely unrelated to emotions: marrying a foreigner for a visa.
I happen to be connected to a whopping seven couples who are legally married in the state of New York predominately to reap the benefits of, um, living here. Simply put, when you can’t get a job and you risk being deported, pour yourself into your closest white outfit and hop on over to City Hall! Some of these cases were already couples, some were actually happy together, but mostly someone was a virgin, someone was gay, and all were secret.
It makes sense that people like to keep such secret marriages on the down-low. It’s not all that passionate to say, “I was a struggling model from Turkey and needed to stay in America, so I married my gay best friend and we lied to the state together. He can seem straight, you know. Then I got bored and went back to Istanbul.” Chic maybe, perhaps even romantic in the 19th century sense, but is a green card and some W-2s all love in America is reduced to?
Could be. After all, the gay marriage debate is largely centered upon legality. Love is love — you can prance around feeling your feelings and kissing who you want behind closed doors forever if it suits you, but nothing says legit like a license to wed. Still, these pseudos are pretty ridiculous. In a Western society past arranged marriages or even the white-picket-fence dreams of generations past, I officially have more friends who are secretly married than friends with gold bands, big houses and golden retrievers by 7:1. I think something is wrong here.
The craziest part is the contradictory anonymity of it all. How can you keep a secret from your friends that you told to the government as a boldfaced lie? Maybe I watched too many romantic comedies (see the first sentence of this article), but I always believed that marriage was a proclamation of love, not a whisper to avoid deportation.
On a serious note, I think there’s a big change going on in the way our society interprets commitment. It makes sense, strangely enough, that a culture dominated by fleeting hookups and career-chasing hipsters looking for the next big thing would view marriage as this sort of ironic thing to try on the way to real life, before eventually finding a grown-up spouse as a real adult someday. Then there’s the reverse theory, that the much-younger-married world of our grandparents is taking off again. Maybe these early marriages, however shady, are our generation’s attempt at reconnecting the dots of meaningful relationships. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Clearly I am conflicted. All I know is if you were secretly married, just let me know. I won’t bat an eyelash. I am here to not cry at your wedding.