Married To A Bule = Easy Life, Think Again!

#74/365 - RosyCreative Commons License photo credit: abooth202

Laki lo kan bule!”….(You’re married to a white guy!)

It’s one line that I had heard a thousand times – well maybe not that much – but enough to pushed me to actually write about it. Why? Because of the typical misconception plenty of Indonesians have about being married to a foreigner.

First of all, being married to an American does not means you immediately being handed over a green card! Just to get there alone cost us plenty of money and although we were pretty lucky because my fiance visa was approved within 3 months it doesn’t stop there.

It took us over a year to get my green card in the mail and it involved our local senator. You bet it cost us money and last I heard, the fee were going up just to file for Adjustment of Status. They – the USCIS – will pretty much probe everything from criminal records, financial records to our health records.

Oh and being granted a green card doesn’t means that I’m automatically a citizen. First green card you will be given is called Conditional Resident Permit which is only good for two years. After that you must file for Removal of Conditions which means more paperwork and if you’re good to go (read: your marriage proofed to be solid & real enough) just then you will be given a 10 years green card.

Most people who is outside the mix marriage circles will not understand the process we had to go through to legalize everything. Read interesting facts about this topic over at my friend’s blog, Maryline.

Besides all these piles of paperwork, to survive living in a foreign country that you never been to is not a walk in a park either. It took a lot of adjustments.

If you’re looking to climb up the corporate American ladder, it’s not as easy as people thinks either. You must proven yourself first so all your fancy degrees won’t guarantee you a prominent career if you have no skills.

Laki lo kan bule!”….(You’re married to a white guy!)

When I talked to others about my effort to return to the working world often times I heard the same question “Laki lo kan bule.” (You’re married to a white guy)

Huh? So..? Does that mean I’m not allowed to have dreams of my own or attempt to pursue it?

Being married to a white guy doesn’t mean that life comes easy for you or everything is being given to you on a silver platter.

How would you deal with these type of misconception? Have you ever been subjected to one?



  1. August 19, 2010 / 5:50 pm

    It seems so unfair that immigration laws are so different depending on which country you are from. Japanese citizens have at least a five-year wait period before they are even interviewed for a Green Card. It all depends on who’s shaking hands with our country, I suppose. Plus the fact that we place such stringent standards on people who are pursuing the “American Dream” while the politicians of this country commit the most corrupt of crimes is more than just shameful…it’s outright hypocrisy.

    But, in the end at least we should be grateful that this country thrives on its diversity no matter how hard they make it. There are countries that wouldn’t even ‘consider’ accepting a foreigner as a citizen.

    My mom’s advice to fellow immigrants is, “do what you came here to do and forget what everybody else tells you.” And I think most successful American Dreams were achieved that way.

    • August 22, 2010 / 12:51 pm

      Nami, your mother is a wise woman! Love her advice and it is so true. I agree with you that although the law to become citizen are strict at least everything are transparent, there’s no gray areas like in other countries does.
      Thanks for your take on this 😀

  2. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    August 19, 2010 / 6:45 pm

    There’s so many hoops to jump through and I don’t really understand why. Well, I realize there is wedding fraud but there are so many couples and families struggling to stay together it seems crazy! Hope your son is feeling better today.

    • August 20, 2010 / 12:35 pm

      I’m also amazed by the hoops you have to jump through to “prove your marriage”. It’s not limited to the US either. I’ve had the worst time with visa paperwork showing that I’m married to my husband (we’re both Americans) while living in the Netherlands.

    • August 22, 2010 / 12:53 pm

      Yes, the frauds are still high when it comes to mix marriages and that’s why they implemented more hoops for those who are legally and genuinely are just trying to be together. I have a friend who had to wait for over 2 years before she can finally went to the States after being legally married here.
      Thanks Kristin!

  3. August 19, 2010 / 7:43 pm

    That’s tough. I think no matter what you pursue in life, you’ll have your naysayers. I love your mom’s advice.

    • August 22, 2010 / 12:54 pm

      So true! Nami’s mother is a wise woman for sure 😀

  4. August 19, 2010 / 9:04 pm

    This is so interesting, because I heard something similar the other week. A coworker was explaining the ins and outs and I was stunned, because I thought it was a walk in the park. I’m astounded at all the steps people have to go through and this isn’t citizenship. I used to think you were automatically granted citizenship when you married an American, nope.

    I think the perception that dating or marrying a white man is like receiving a winning lottery ticket. This may be the case if the white guy is super rich, but there are loads of regular guys too. I’m with my boyfriend because he’s super hot, he’s crazy secure, and he makes me laugh all the time – not because he’s white.

    • August 22, 2010 / 12:57 pm

      Bureaucratically it is very complicated process but I don’t blame the country. I mean if it’s so easy to get citizenship then the US will be flocked and tax payers would be the one paying for it.

      Some people here just thought that once you’re married to a white guy then life would be easier for you which is not true. Love how you describe your boyfriend! 😀

  5. Heidi
    August 19, 2010 / 9:11 pm

    They just won’t get it no matter how detailed your explanation is. If we tell them how much money spent on immigration process, they will immediately think ..”see you’re loaded that you can afford that.”
    It’s annoying but I don’t completely blame them. They’re so many Indonesian women who love to brag about their perfect and super fabulous life, so any real stories like ours will be pretty much ignored 🙂

    • August 22, 2010 / 12:59 pm

      Yeah you’re right, Heidi…we just can’t change the stereotype but once in awhile it’s worth the effort to voice our opinion and letting them know hey it’s not a walk in the park.
      Don’t even let me get started on those Indonesian women like you mentioned hahaha 😉

      • Heidi
        August 23, 2010 / 12:36 am

        Please do tell me or write about it when you get a chance. It’ll be hilarious:)

        • August 24, 2010 / 8:02 pm

          How bout you write it, Heidi? 😉 You’re welcome to post it here. *evil grin*

  6. August 20, 2010 / 12:46 am

    Hi Maureen,
    We share that in common… what a riot reading and walking down memory lane from your post. I had to deal with tons of stuff that will go in my memoir but yes, it is not always easy and one must develop a tough skin. Post 9/11, the rules have become more stringent and the wait time longer. I love this post!

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:02 pm

      Agree with you on the tough skin, Eliz!
      I was easily offended at first but now I just laughed those comments off although when it comes from close friends it still stings a bit.
      We were lucky that my process to get there with the Fiance Visa wasn’t as hard but I’ve heard and seen stories of genuine couples who had to be separated for years just waiting for the USCIS to approved their cases and granted them their visas/green cards.
      If my name is different it might’ve been a different story.
      Thanks for sharing your own experience, Eliz! 😀

  7. August 20, 2010 / 1:43 am

    How frustrating huh? My dad is from Costa Rica and moved to the US a few years before I was born (my mom is from the US). I know how many hoops he had to go through and it’s ten times worse now!

    I understand the misconceptions too. It always seemed that our Costa Rican family members thought my family was rich, just because we lived in the U.S. They’d ask us to bring TVs, game consoles and other big ticket items to them when we visited. I don’t think they understood that we weren’t exactly rich just because we lived in the US!

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:04 pm

      So with you on ten times worse nowadays!
      I get that too, friends and families asking us to bring them tons of stuffs when we visited and it was tough because you don’t want to offend them but there’s just no way you could splurge that much money when coming home alone cost us a lot of money lol.
      Thanks for sharing Melissa, it sure is interesting to read the same experiences from different countries.

  8. August 20, 2010 / 3:07 am

    It’s harder for the Indonesian woman who’s married to a Westerner to live in Indonesia. For some reason, Indonesians think that married to one is a luxury and your life is guaranteed to be prosperous. Is it because Westeners are paid better than Indonesians? Regardless, sarcastic comments like “Laki lo kan bule” is probably almost as annoying as “Bokap lo kan pejabat”. The difference is, especially in your case, YOU are not lazy and IS looking to better your life by looking for jobs.

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:06 pm

      Thanks Diny!
      There are times where I feel like living back in the States is easier for a mix marriage than back home simply because it’s easier to ignore the stereotypes when you’re thousand miles away.
      Even here we doesn’t lead an extravagant lifestyle so to hear “Laki lo kan bule” sometimes still makes me wants to vomit hahaaha

  9. August 20, 2010 / 6:25 am

    It must be so frustrating to be met with such blatant discrimination. At least, by writing posts like this one, you’re changing some peoples’ opinions.

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:14 pm

      Honestly, I don’t take it as discrimination but more as ignorance on some people. A widespread misconceptions to say the least.
      Thank you 🙂

  10. August 20, 2010 / 8:02 am

    Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that marrying a bule is such an enviable thing. I’m not saying that it’s bad marrying a bule, nor am I saying that it’s good to marry one. It depends more on the person, imo. What is it again that they want to get? Green card? Citizenship? Why? What is it that they dream of that make them think that marrying a white guy is easy?? Don’t Indonesians realize how rich are some of their own men?? What is it that they see/fantasize when they see a bule?? May be those who are envious need to take control over their dreams and realize it there rather than projecting the envy to people like you. I guess I don’t get it…

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:16 pm

      Maria, interesting question. There are women here who actively pursuit white men like a dog and willing to do anything just to be Mrs. Bule even if its means wrecking the guy’s marriage. Why? Easy, because they thinks that by becoming one they will lead a life full of adventure, glamorous lifestyle, etc. Sad really but it is a well known phenomenon here in Indonesia.

  11. August 20, 2010 / 8:24 am

    No matter what way you look at it stereotypes are a pain in the butt! I could not agree with you more! My husband is older than me by quite a bit and I get comments all the time about, no wonder you don’t have to work…. I have three kids under the age of five. I work my behind off everyday!

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:17 pm

      Oh Andrea, yikes! Sorry to hear that you are being subjected to such rude comments. Some people just doesn’t think before they open their mouth isn’t?

  12. August 20, 2010 / 8:50 am

    OMG! Who knew it could be that difficult?! Hang in there, girl!

  13. August 20, 2010 / 9:07 am

    Amazing testimony of persistence — I bet it wasn’t even half as hard for your husband to settle in Indonesia than it was for you to become legal in the US.
    Thanks for the link back! Take care 🙂

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:18 pm

      Thanks, girl!
      Oh yeah it was a walk in the park for him since the company took care of everything. All he had to do was show up for his biometric lol.

  14. August 20, 2010 / 12:49 pm

    I knew it wasn’t easy but I didn’t realise there were so many steps and hoops to jump through! I understand why they have to have regulations and time-scales to try and stop people who are marrying just for a visa but it’s so hard on the families who just want to be together.

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:20 pm

      So true Sian, it’s like a catch 22…on one side you do understand the needs to be stringent with the law because like it or not there are people out there whose taking advantages and breaking them for their own personal gains such as the green card/visa then later becoming a burden for the said country. But on the other hands, there are real genuine couples who had to be separated for years to get their case approved.

  15. Mila Couch
    August 20, 2010 / 2:42 pm

    Reading your blog here made me smile. I remembered exactly the whole process of migrating to Australia to be with Rohan, it was exhausting and tiring especially the time when we had to prepared and collected the right documents for my visa. Some of friends assumed that it won’t be that difficult getting a visa until one of them experienced it by herself trying to a get a spousal visa to Germany lately.

    The ‘Laki loe kan bule’ statement happens a lot in Indonesia especially Jakarta. People tends to think marrying a foreigner means that it will gives you an unlimited access of money so you won’t have a problem lending friends some money, buying lunch or dinner for them, pay for the night clubbing, etc.

    When they knew that I worked in a hotel some of my friends asked me why do I want to work in Australia let alone in a hotel because my husband surely can afford to support me. I find it hard to believe just because I have a ‘bule’ husband means that I don’t have to work. For me there’s a sense of proud being able to work in the country I’m living right now because it means I’m independent and being myself again after what happened many months ago with depression.

    • August 22, 2010 / 1:23 pm

      Oh Mila I read from the mailing list that the bureaucracy in European country are harder!

      Hahaha I had to laugh on your comment about money. Seriously yeah, some people doesn’t understand that being married to a white guy – unless of course he’s someone like Donald Trump – doesn’t means you have bountiful of dollars lying around in your house.

      Kudos for you to stand your ground and do whatever it is that you feel necessary to enjoy your life there. Keep up the good work, girl!

  16. August 22, 2010 / 5:28 am

    it makes you wonder if all the money and red tape to become legal in the US has anything to do with the number of illegals? Not that it shouldn’t be difficult but from what you described seems a bit much. Especially if you are coming here to marry a citizen. I think it is silly for people to assume that your life is easy because your husband is white. come on.

    • August 22, 2010 / 2:00 pm

      I think that’s why people still willing to gamble on taking a short cut by abusing a tourist visa. Thanks, Kerry! 😀

  17. August 22, 2010 / 9:46 am

    I like this sentence: “Being married to a white guy doesn’t mean that life comes easy for you or everything is being given to you on a silver platter”.

  18. August 30, 2010 / 11:56 am

    Hi Oyen, interesting subject you have here … when I’m back to my hometown in Bali the common welcoming phrase from my Parents neighbors will be “Wah, enaknya yg kawin sama Tourist, tinggal dimana sekarang ?” (you are so lucky marrying tourist, where do you reside now ?)
    I grew tired explaining that my husband works made us travel and it’s not an easy lifestyle moving from one country to another every 3 years or so, in their eyes Hubby & my Little Miss will always be the Tourist and I’m the lucky one to tag along … lost my battle there !

  19. Mike
    March 31, 2011 / 11:23 am


    My name is Alex, i have been living in Bali for the last 10 years. For all this time till today i always been considered as a walking dollars, if not by the poeple in my area by the people at the governement.
    We as foreigner are the target of the tax, the local and the Indonesian administration. Its not worth it anymore!
    If you guys change your vision of the foreigner then i m sure the west will make it more easy for you too.

    Kind Regards


  20. May 3, 2011 / 8:04 pm

    One thing I will find it difficult if I ever marry a ‘bule’ is moving around as an expat wife. Unless he will settle in Indonesia and willing to retire here, I don’t think it will be an option. But I never know, do I? I’ll just let things go with the flow!

  21. October 4, 2011 / 10:48 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s so difficult! Actually, I kind of can, because my brother is married to a Japanese woman, who has lived in America for 17 years (and they have 4 children who have dual citizenship), but because they have been living in Japan for two years, she’s lost her Visa and can’t come back. Their kids are getting so old and we miss them so much, but it’s going to cost them about $10,000 to get the family back to the US, so it’s really not an option. I also work with a woman whose husband and 2-year-old daughter are in Mexico, trying to come to the US legally, but it’s taking so long their family has been separated for 2 years. Not to mention how hard she has to work to support herself here alone! It’s so unfair. 🙁

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