Author - Chelsea Martin

Weekly Featured Couple: Val & Keith

Val and Keith in Chicago

Our latest featured couple are Val and Keith. This wonderful pair met in 2014, when Val was staying in the USA. Now, two years on, they are finally able to plan their wedding and prepare to close the distance for good.

Val and Keith, like many long distance couples, find airport goodbyes one of the most difficult aspects of long distance. Combined with a 7 hour time difference, it’s safe to say they are very much looking forward to putting the distance behind them. Read their full, inspiring story below.

How Did You Meet?

Keith and I met in 2014 while I was being an AuPair in the States. His parents lived in my neighborhood and we started talking during a block party in August. I told them I had not had the chance to meet many people my age during the first year of my stay and I guess they felt bad for me =) cause they suggested to exchange numbers so their son (who was just a couple years older than me) could show me around.

Val and Keith's First Meeting

Val and Keith Revisiting Where They First Met

We clicked the first time we hung out and started dating shortly after for the last two months of my stay. I left for Germany end of October and we were long distance ever since.

What Is Your Situation Now?

In March 2016 Keith flew to Germany without telling me and surprised me with a proposal at the Farmers Market where I worked Saturdays. We started the K1 Visa process and got the first approval while I was visiting him this summer.

The Proposal Captured on Camera

The Proposal Captured on Camera

The medical and interview at the consulate followed and just now in October I finally hold my Visa and One-Way-Ticket in hand. We couldn’t be more excited to close the distance early November, when I move to the states and we get married in court.

What Do You Find Difficult About the Distance?

For us airport goodbyes are probably one of the most painful parts about long distance. You might think it would get easier but it actually gets harder every time you have to do it. On the other hand: seeing each other after a long time apart is one of the most rewarding and glorious feelings there is.

We have a seven hour time difference which makes it hard to communicate sometimes and when we do find time to Skype the bad internet connection is the worst. But the hardest part is of course the missing each other on special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays etc. and on a daily basis. It always feels like you are missing half of yourself. And it doesn’t help that most people and couples around you don’t understand your situation and what you are going through.

Airport Goodbye's Are the Hardest

Airport Goodbye’s Are the Hardest

It’s hard having to explain your relationship status to people that don’t believe long distance can actually work or even counts as a “real relationship.” But in the end non of this matters, because he is the love of my life and worth every mile between us. Our journey so far was hard but I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way!!

What Is Your Advice for Other Long Distance Couples?

We always try and make time to talk as much as possible and take part of each others lives. Communication is key for a solid and healthy relationship – especially cause that’s all you can do really.

Also we tried to see each other at least twice a year even though flight tickets are crazy expensive – it is always good to have something to look forward to. And it helps your family and friends to get on board – getting to know your partner in person is helping them to understand why long distance is the path you are taking.

And don’t compare yourself to other couples, don’t let anyone make you feel bad or insecure about your choice to love someone far away. I think long distance builds a couple and strengthens it, cause if you survive long distance what else would there be to not make it through?! Believe in your love, fight for it and make it work against all odds.

What Are Your Plans for the Future?

First is closing the distance and getting married this year in the states, then we actually plan on having a church wedding in Germany end of 2017. Other than that we will be taking everyday as a gift: because we have fought so long for this and are now rewarded as being together is the only thing we care about!

Val and Keith in the USA

Val and Keith in the USA

I have found my soulmate and best friend and everything that lies ahead is going to be the greatest adventure cause I get to spend the rest of my life with him!

See more of Val & Keith’s LDR journey on Val’s Instagram page – @valkoenich.

To see all of our featured couples click here.Want to be a featured couple?  To submit your own story visit our submissions page.


House Hunting as a Foreigner in the UK (Vlog #20)

As with any country, finding a house or apartment to rent in the UK comes with its own unique set of challenges and quirks. Having recently been through this process ourselves (Chris and I are just under a week away from our move to Nottingham), we decided it would be the perfect time to share some of what we have learnt from our own house search.

Similarities & Differences

In principle, most of the application was similar to what I would have experienced in the USA – however there were some notable differences. For example, many of the properties we found online stated that they would not accept DSS applicants. I soon learnt that this stands for Department of Social Security and is a British reference to applicants on housing benefits.

We also share our thoughts on the best ways to conduct your search, what to do if you are looking for a pet friendly property and what to expect when applying for a property. Finally, we share some of the tips that we’ve made use of to make the whole experience just a little but easier.

Want to see more videos about long distance dating, expat life & our time together in the UK? Subscribe on YouTube to see new videos every Wednesday & Sunday.

Your Experience House Hunting

Have you looked for a new house in the UK yet? If so, we’re interested to hear if your experience matched ours or was entirely different. Of course, we were looking for a  house in Nottingham with a pet – so what you experience might not be the same.

But there are certainly some parts of the process which feel entirely alien, while others feel very familiar. Which aspects of house hunting in the UK have felt most familiar to you, and which have felt most different? Let us know in the comments  below and join the conversation.


The Newlywed Game: International LDR Version (#Vlog 19)

Chris & I married recently on New Year’s Eve in Bellingham, Washington before finally closing the distance in April this year. Because the first few months of our married life were spent living apart, we had to wait to play the newlywed game until we moved in together.

As newlyweds we decided that we should quiz each other for your enjoyment. We both simultaneously answered 20 questions to see if we actually agreed on our answers.

What is the Newlywed Game?

The newlywed game (also known as the shoe game) tests newly married couples on how well they know their partner & their quirks. Derived from a popular game often played during bridal showers and wedding receptions, this can be played at any time outside of those occasions.

In it’s original format, each partner is given two shoes – one to represent themselves and one to represent their partner. Then, questions are asked of the couple which can be answered by the shoes. Typical questions can include:

  • Who takes up more room in bed?
  • Who is the better cook?
  • Who is more romantic?
  • Who is better at keeping secrets?

Though the questions are often endless, we limited ours to 20. We wanted to keep it short, but could have gone on for a lot longer (and many couples do). So, if you want to see more of this be sure to let us know.

Want to see more videos about long distance dating, expat life & the UK? Subscribe on YouTube to see new videos every Wednesday & Sunday.

Have You Played the Newlywed Game?

If you haven’t played yet – this game is great fun. You might even learn a little more about what your partner thinks. Whether you’re planning an engagement party, hen party or just want some fun – this is a great option. Below we have listed a few of our favourite lists of questions to get you started:

We’d love to see your videos of you & your partner trying out the newlywed/ shoe game. If you’ve already played, or this video has inspired you to give it a go, share your videos with us in the comments below.


6 Months in the UK: Reflections of an American Expat

6 Months in the UK Update

I’ve officially been living with Chris in the UK for 6 months now. While it feels like not much has happened, a fair amount actually has. I feel like I’m more settled and am slowly adapting to living in a new country. While some days have been easier than others, some were pretty difficult – but it’s been getting better.

For a long time we were feeling trapped and wondering if we would ever get out of Lancaster as it was never meant to be a permanent place for us to settle. However, new jobs have been hard to find and we feared we’d be forced to live somewhere where we weren’t truly happy, barely getting by and with no money to save up to buy a new home.

We’ve also experienced some lows that hit us when we were least prepared for it. A close friend of mind died unexpectedly in late June, so I returned to the US briefly to attend his funeral and mourn with my friends and their family. Our visa guidance had to be taken down from our website as we (allegedly) concerned solicitors by undercutting their business. I guess we were just doing too well assisting couples reunite themselves together for free!

We learned about harsh feelings that were kept under wraps by some. Then, to top it all off, our dog (Apple) injured herself. She was bed ridden and suffered some severe side effects from the anti-inflammatory medications her vet prescribed.

Although we can never be truly prepared for the curve balls that life throws at us, having each other there for support has been so incredible. Through dealing with life and the unknown issues that have presented themselves, Chris and I made discoveries about ourselves that I don’t believe either of us would have ever anticipated.

Because of this we are stronger and our love for each other has only grown more deep. Finally, things are looking brighter, and by November we will be starting the next chapter of our journey.

So what’s happened these past few months you ask? Let me dish out the good stuff for you.

An Update on LoveMyBrit

Despite having to remove our UK visa blogs, we still continue to meet many couples we’ve assisted in obtaining their visas. Several of these people we never even knew we had helped because they had never previously commented on our website.

But they’ve still managed to find us on social media, reached out to share about their visa journey and what kind of impact we made on helping them close the distance. Moments like this make us so happy. All we wanted to do was help couples understand everything and know that they have the ability to do this all on their own if they wanted.

Chris and I know first hand how much it hurts to be separated for long periods of time without knowing exactly when you’ll see your other half again. We understand that the government doesn’t care about your relationship and forces you to jump through hoops just to be together.

Feeling as though you’re being punished for falling in love with a person from another country is wrong. It’s heartbreaking to think that you have to apply (and pay extortionate amounts) just to live with the person you love in one place.

The Redesigned LoveMyBrit Website

The Redesigned LoveMyBrit Website

Through our website Chris and I have met many amazing couples, and some of these developed into close friendships. Being able to relate to these couples is a wonderful feeling. It reminds me that, although this process is daunting, there are still good people out there in this world. Making new friends is something we enjoy very much and hope to continue to do through both the Love My Brit blog and our YouTube channel.

Our Wedding Blessing

Chris and I celebrated our hugely anticipated UK wedding blessing at the beginning of August which we had been diligently planning for 2 years (pictures are on their way, I promise). This was the wedding celebration that had originally been planned as our legal wedding ceremony – but when time came closer to applying for our UK visa we opted to marry in the US instead (read more about that here).

Our Wedding Blessing

Our Wedding Blessing

We’ve always said that even though we legally married in the US, that we fully intended to keep our wedding in the UK. Instead of a legal wedding, it became our wedding blessing ceremony for our friends and family to see. Many of Chris’ family members traveled from all across the country, and several of my own friends and family made the long journey from Washington State to join us as well.

While my Washingtonian friends and family were visiting, Chris and I extended invitations for them to stay in our home for most or part of their time in the UK. We thought this would help them with the costs of accommodation during their travels while also giving opportunities to spend more time with them.

We knew that we would only be able to see them for a short amount of time on the day of the wedding blessing. Combined with the fact that it could potentially be several months before we ever get to enjoy their company again, we wanted to make the most of our time with them.

It was really great to be able to show everyone who stayed with us around Lancaster and other parts of the UK. We went to the local castle tour, ate dinners at historical pubs, walked through the parks around our home, visited Morecambe beach front and spent a day at a theme park in Blackpool.

Exploring the UK with Friends

Exploring the UK with Friends

We also visited Lake Windermere, the Beatrix Potter Museum, the castle ruins in Kendal & even more in Edinburgh Scotland. Being able to share the amazing places I’ve seen here in the UK with my friends and family has been an unforgettable experience!

Nerding Out

For a long while, Chris & I were really into mobile game Pokemon GO. We even started a Facebook group for players in Lancaster, which led to us being invited to help moderate a combined group for the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

We were the only Pokemon GO group in our area to hold large scale lure parties on a regular basis. On average we had about hundred people attend (and quite often more). These lure parties lasted several hours each time. One of these lure parties was sponsored by GAME. This all happened because a GAME employee contacted me on Facebook after seeing how successful the lure parties were. The store held a raffle to win a free copy of Pokemon Sun or Moon, as well as other prizes. It was a spectacular event.

Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO

Chris and I thought it was awesome that we could bring so many people together through the Pokemon GO app. We didn’t agree with the negativity we heard about the game because we only saw and experienced the positives. Pokemon GO and our lure parties got us out of the house and walking around our town so often that people’s faces became more and more familiar.

Some of these people became our friends outside of the game and we found ourselves hanging out together throughout the week – they’re really amazing people. Although we rarely play the game now, the friendships we built are genuine and have remained. We even went shopping with them at Costco in Manchester recently (read more about that here).

Moving to Nottingham

Before I moved to the UK, Chris and I both agreed that while living in Lancaster we didn’t think it was a wise idea for me to start up my dog training business. The city is very spread out and without a car or reliable method of transportation the business would not be successful. It just wouldn’t have the right opportunity to grow properly like it had back in the US.

I needed to be in a city where there were more people per square mile so I had less area to cover. We had accepted the fact that if we wanted to have a good Christmas, be able to afford gifts for each other and buy birthday presents as well that I should take on part time work as Chris’ job search was strained and had not been looking very promising.

We were preparing ourselves to live in Lancaster through the winter and were trying to make sure that we could enjoy the holiday season. I had started handing out a few job applications to stores and restaurants in town, and applied online for a number of jobs in the hope of picking up some part time positions.

Then Chris had landed a job interview for a company in Derby that looked promising. I put my job search on hold as Chris had two amazing job interviews with the company and was eventually offered the position – which he happily accepted.

Visiting 5 Guys in Nottingham

Visiting 5 Guys in Nottingham

This takes us to our house hunting trips to Nottingham. Derby is not far from Nottingham, a much larger city, which is where we are looking to live. Once we’ve moved into our new home and settled I will be starting up my business in the UK. I admit that I have missed dog training and look forward to doing it again. We’ve spent some time in Nottingham to view properties that are available, as well as looking through the town. I can safely say that we are very excited to be living in a city where more is happening.

In Conclusion

Although my first 6 months living in the UK has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, I wouldn’t look back on my decision to live here as a bad one. I know that meeting new people and building friendships will take time, work will come and Chris & I can start saving comfortably to buy our first home in the nearby future.

Apple is continuing to heal, and regardless of any negativity we come across or hardships we face, we are our own family who support each other and are strong.

We look forward to sharing more about our expat journey over the coming year as we continue to build new friendships & explore more of the UK together. If you’ve got an expat story to share, feel free to leave a comment below.


Reacting to Buzzfeed’s: 24 Reasons to Marry a Brit (#Vlog 18)

Recently, we came across an article from Buzzfeed called 24 Reasons You Should Stop Messing Around and Just Marry a Brit. Now, we know that these articles are designed to draw discussion – capitalising on existing stereotypes and packaging them into fun, easy-to-read lists.

Of course, there is no doubt that some people want to marry a Brit – but many others, like myself, just so happened to. It was never my intention to find a British husband, but on a trip to the UK – I met Chris, and (for lack of a better term) we hit it off. So, while I may be married to a Brit, I did not come with any pre-conceived expectations of what that meant.

Testing Buzzfeed’s Claims

That’s why, as a British & American couple, we wanted to test the claims (or stereotypes) made in the post. Were these things we had noticed in our relationship? Were they valid points, or unrealistic fantasies of British culture?

In this video we go through each of the 24 points and discuss whether we think they really are benefits of marrying a Brit, true outside of Britain or just plain wishful thinking.

Want to see more long distance relationship advice? Subscribe on YouTube to see new videos every Wednesday & Sunday.

Your Experiences

We did not look through the list prior to filming this vlog, so all reactions are genuine! From the attitude towards sporting events to traditions such as Guy Fawkes night, this is a whirlwind tour of British culture – separating fact from fiction.

If you’re in a relationship (or married to) a Brit – we’d love to hear from you. Did you agree with the points made in Buzzfeed’s list, or is the reality a little different? We know that everyone will have different experiences, and we’re curious about what those are.