My husband and I have only fought once since December. All the anger, all the arguments dissipated after the denial of our hardship case. The tension of the hardship packet hanging over our heads and the carrot of residency dangling in front of us were gone, and we were finally free to move on with our lives and our dreams.
I have been thinking about those days of anger–and even outright hatred–because their ugliness is so pronounced in their absence. I want to remember those moments because I do not want to repeat them. I also seek to understand what informed my reactions and the feelings I carried with me.
What I decided to write about today is a single phone conversation where my husband said something that was honestly stupid, but it became much bigger than that due to the stress of our situation and external expectations. It is one of the many moments that neither of us are proud of, but I think it speaks to what many couples in similar situations go through.
“They ask me all the time, ‘Why isn’t your wife here with you?’ and I tell them, ‘I don’t know.'”
My husband said this to me one day this past fall. It had been about 4 months since I had last seen him and we were waiting to hear the results on the additional evidence we sent in for our hardship case. It was a very tense time in our lives in general and our marriage in particular, and when he said this, I was spitting mad.
He had told me his family had been saying–or at least implying–that I should be there with him rather than remaining in the US. Dropping him off in Mexico City and saying goodbye was apparently not what a good wife should do after her husband is denied his visa. I was very sensitive about these questions and expectations.
I wasn’t with Salvador in Mexico because I had to finish my college degree. I had been in college for over 6 years at that point, and I was not about to stop. Besides, quitting wouldn’t make my student loans go away and a degree could get me better pay and a track to administration in bilingual schools. I wasn’t staying in Missouri simply for my own comfort–I was there for our future.
I also wasn’t with Salvador because I needed to be in the US to do the best job I possibly could on our hardship case. There is so much of myself that went into that document, hours and hours of writing, conferences with lawyers, begging friends/family/co-workers to write and re-write letters, locating artifacts, and money for the fees that I could only keep up with in the states.
Why wasn’t I there with him? He didn’t know. That hurt, and that angered me.
He knew why I wasn’t with him. He knew all about the denial, the immigration process, my obligations in the United States, and what all I was doing to give us the best life I possibly could. He knew that I wasn’t choosing to be away from him; I was doing what had to be done.
In a stream of angry, bitter words, I told him all of that.
“I know, Sarah,” he said to me. “I know all of this.”
Fed up, I replied to him, “Then you know what to tell them, don’t you?” I then hung up on him.