Thursday 23 October 2014

Dear Mary: I can't stop worrying after son got engaged to a Japanese woman

Published 29/07/2013 | 10:58

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I don't know if you can help me at all and some of my friends say that I am worrying unnecessarily. But I have not talked to a professional about this, which is why I am unburdening myself to you.

My son has been living and working in England for many years now and has finally met the love of his life. She is very attractive, has a wonderful personality, a great job and seems to be deeply in love with my son. They have been living together for some time and he has just told me that he is going to propose to her on her next birthday. Everything should be perfect, right?

But she is Japanese. I have nothing against the Japanese. My husband and I have been there and loved it. I even like a lot of their food (but not the raw fish!).

My problem is that their backgrounds are so different that I worry what might happen to the relationship when the first flush of love wears off.

I also remember the amount of publicity there was when the Japanese wife of an Englishman went back on holidays to Japan with their child and then contacted him to say that she was staying there and wanted a divorce. He tried for joint custody, but the Japanese courts denied him that. He has never seen his child since.

Of course, this is an exception. But it does colour my view of this impending marriage. Am I being stupid ?

AThis theme has come up in a couple of letters that I have received in the last few weeks -- which in itself is indicative of how things have changed in our country in recent years.

As our young people are now forced to go abroad to work they are much more likely to meet and fall in love with other young people from different countries.

You only have to look at the engagement notices in the newspapers to see what diverse backgrounds are getting together even in Ireland with so many varied nationalities now living here.

While this is an exciting development it can also lead to fears such as you describe. You are looking at your son and wishing him continued happiness, but the older, wiser part of you knows that every couple goes through difficulties at some point in the relationship, and being from different ethnic backgrounds can indeed exacerbate these problems.

There is absolutely nothing that you can do apart from welcoming this girl wholeheartedly into your family.

It may help if you change your mind-set, and instead of worrying about what may go wrong, focus on the positives. All your family will benefit from learning more about the Japanese culture, you may have opportunities to see and understand the country and its people if you go there again, as your in-laws will no doubt take a great interest in showing you a different side to the one that ordinary tourists see.

You should also be thankful that your son and future daughter-in-law live in the UK and are therefore easily accessible, unlike those parents whose children are in far distant countries which makes visits very difficult.

So stop worrying and count your blessings -- your son is delightfully happy and you should share in his joy.

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