This may have been a more challenging decision than many for Immigration NZ, because in our society, it is unusual for an older woman to marry a substantially younger man. For whatever reasons, we seem more willing to accept older men with young partners and the extreme example of that could be Hugh Heffner of Playboy fame [or notoriety]. Perhaps money may have something to do with it.

Another challenging issue for relationships is cross-cultural relationships and over the years, the media has identified some extreme examples. One to come to mind was the book, ‘Not Without My Daughter’ which was the story of a young American woman who fell in love with and married a man form a Middle Eastern country. In due course he asked her to visit his country to meet his family. To her horror, when they arrived, she learned of the absolute control held by the mother in the family; and from my recall of the story, she was told she could leave, but her daughter was her husband’s possession and would never be able to leave.  After months, or possibly years of anguish and assistance from her Embassy, she did manage to smuggle out her daughter and escape.

In providing immigration services, we occasionally come across cross-cultural relationships with the potential for going horribly wrong, and when appropriate, I’ve been known to take off ‘my immigration hat’ and put on ‘my Dad hat’ and talk with them about the issues they need to work through. Issues which often one of them can’t raise because ‘it’s not what you talk about’ or because of fear of offending the cultural sensitivities of the person they love.  But as an independent person with their long term relationship and the immigration process in mind, I feel I can, and have a responsibility to do so, if that is their wish.

This commentary is provided with regards to the NZ Herald article “40-year age gap but love is true”