Where did you meet?
Peter: I met Maria when I visited a Spanish language course in Mexico where she was working at the time. A friend of her is a manager at the school.
Maria: After that I went to Berlin and they brought me straight from the airport to a house party (smiles). I then stayed there, sleeping on the floor in the beginning.
Maria, can you tell us what you like and don't like about living in Berlin?
Maria: I like that the system just works. Here you have some rights as a person and I feel safe. However it is difficult to deal with the language. I speak German but it is still hard for me to communicate. Also I still have issues to get used to how social interactions are working here. It's soo different than in Mexico.
Why did you decide to marry?
Peter: Having a wedding is a very romantic idea so we decided to just go for it. Of course it makes all the bureaucracy much easier for Maria.
Can you tell us about your experience with the German registry office / Standesamt?
Maria: I was married before in Mexico and that didn't make it easier. I think some of the staff in the registry office or even some of the people I know personally probably think I am doing serial marriages to just get out of Mexico (smiles).
Peter: I think there is this Berlin thing that officals first behave very snotty and are looking down on you and it seems like they want to block your marriage plans. The more they get to know your case and once they see that you are actually a couple and mean it they are becoming very helpful and doing more than they are actually supposed to do.
Maria: At some point I was almost crying in the registrars office and I think showing my emotions really helped to soften the person in front of me. After that she was much more helpful.
Peter: We went to a Standesamt in the north of Berlin and they were completely overloaded with work. Choosing another Standesamt was not an option as we were officially registered there. You need an appointment to go to the Standesamt and in order to get the appointment online I was getting up at 7am for a week each morning and reloading the website many times until I saw a free date.
That date is then like three months away and at that point you don't know exactly what papers to bring. So you wait three months just to show up at the Standesamt where they tell you that some documents are missing. We had this situation where the registrar had a very cool demeanor towards us but then when she saw how it was working on us emotionally she finally said we shouldn't worry too much and that she will help us to find a solution.
What do you recommend other couples in the same situation?
Peter: I would programm a software which automatically clicks one appointment per week at the Standesamt (smiles).
Maria: We had some issues with translations of Spanish documents from Mexico. I married and then got a divorce in Mexico years ago. The official Mexican way to handle this is that you change status from unmarried to married and then after the divorce you are offically unmarried again.
In Germany the marriage makes you "verheiratet" (married) but the divorce makes you "geschieden" (divorced) instead of unmarried. The German registrar send us home because my status was not "geschieden" on the official document and she didn't understand or didn't want to understand that in Mexico you are either married or unmarried and that no such thing as divorced exists in the official documentation in Mexico.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
A previous version of this article said that Maria was "ledig" instead of "geschieden" on paper in Mexico. We changed this.