On the day This Life captured Maggie’s housewarming party, the absurdity in the air was palpable. Maybe it was the almost 40 degree weather but my sense was it had more to do with the fact that Maggie, our beloved wild-child, was announcing her marriage to a stranger. Whether you agree with her tactics or not, Maggie’s built herself a comfortable situation with Raza. Where real marriage takes vulnerability and forged trust, fake marriage requires a free-spirit with a sprinkle of adventurousness. One sounds slightly superior, no?
The way the Canadian housing market is trending, there’s no doubt many of you are contemplating trading rent for a ring, too. So in the interest of the public good, CBC’s This Life is proud to offer this handy five step guide on how to trick the government into thinking your “green card” marriage is real.
Step 1: Find the right one (and liking their friends too)
Whether you’re trying to stick around, like Raza, or looking to get a roof over your head, like Maggie, making sure you're entering this arrangement with a kindred soul is essential. It’s like trying to find a roommate, only for life. More importantly, finding the right “one” also means finding out if you can stand this person’s friendship circle.
This isn’t your typical marriage where as soon as the “I do’s” are shared, friends of the newly beloved cease to be present fixtures in your social universe. Your fake marriage husband or wife is going to maintain, and may even increase their friendship circles to cope with this new endeavour. Phrases like “I’m tired, mind having the poker night next week instead” don’t cut it when you’re not in love! You have to not love your spouse’s friends as much as you don’t love your spouse.
Better yet, stick to people with zero social capital. The more dependent variables you remove from the picture, the better chance you have of achieving peak marital bliss.
Step 2: Lie to or manipulate the people you love most
Once you’ve found your Maggie or Raza, you’re going to have to deal with pesky people who actually love you. You can do what Maggie did in “Perfect Day” and lay all your cards on the table.
Gather your loved ones in an enclosed space with few exit points to ensure they hear you out. (In fact, it might not be the worst idea to drop the M-bomb on them in one of those escape rooms or something.) Next, spill the beans to all of them at once, talk them through all the “logical” reasonings behind your decision to get faux-hitched. Finally, calm dissenting voices by manipulating them into liking your partner. Maggie’s mistake early on is that she tried her darndest to disassociate Raza from Janine and Gerald. Take a bolder stance by making your parents, siblings, etc. think you might actually be in love with this person. Everyone loves the improbable romance.
Or you can pick a family member or two who you trust, involve them in your marriage proceedings for appearances, and shut the rest out. Lies of omission ensure Sunday dinners will continue to go on without judgemental sideways glances. Plus, if The Man comes knocking, your family won’t be accessories to your crime. It’s a win-win.
Step 3: Research (by watching a lot of This Life)
After you’ve found the right human and appeased your family, it’s time to practice loving each other. Once you’ve filed for spousal sponsorship, a two-year countdown clock before you get approved by Immigration Canada commences. Be ready to welcome surprise visits and be prepared to offer up physical evidence of your relationship. That means you need selfies -- lots of them. I recommend accruing a random collection of objects which showcase a fictionalized common interest — something like quirky fridge magnets from the places you “visited together” should do the trick.
Applicants who raise red flags are usually called in to be interviewed by government officials who will try to find evidence of funny business. If, like Maggie and Raza, you get called in for an interview, you need to be prepared to know everything about each other.
Take a moment with your spouse to test yourselves with these actual nail-biting government questions:
Who woke up first this morning? Did an alarm clock go off?
Does your spouse drink coffee? If so, do they use cream and/or sugar? How many?
Where is the garbage kept in the kitchen?
Online, there are dozens of immigration forums with helpful lists — hundreds of practice questions that one could be expected to answer about their partners. The more convincing your answers, the better chance you have of getting your application approved.
It’s also important to role play (again, outside of the bedroom) different interrogation scenarios like the ones you see on television. Again, like This Life has already taught you, you do not want to appear too rehearsed, so limit your exchange of custom BuzzFeed quizzes about each other to less than thirty.
Step 4: Refrain from actually falling in love
This one’s a no brainer. Should you actually fall in love with your husband or wife, as Maggie discovered in her interrogation interview, you risk losing everything. Should similar feelings arise in you, do what actual husbands and wives do and suppress your emotions deep down inside. Ignore what your heart is telling you day after day after day and I’m sure one day it’ll all go away (that’s how the heart works, right?).
If you opt for openness and honesty, know that there’s a huge chance your partner doesn’t feel the same way. The sheer amount of awkwardness that this will arise might raise doubt and compromise what both of you have worked so diligently to create.
Be true to yourself at your own risk.
*Please be advised: should these four easy steps fail to rescue you from prison time or deportation, the CBC takes no responsibility.
I'm Max Morin, Junior Writer, Story Coordinator and your official insider for all things THIS LIFE. Keep this blog on lock for weekly step-by-step guides to illegal activity and behind the scenes material. Until then, catch all new episodes of THIS LIFE Sundays at 9pm on CBC Television.