A 48-year-old lawyer from Estonia is passionately appealing to stay in Australia so he can remain close to his 103-year-old partner, fully understanding why some might question the authenticity of their love.
A 48-year-old Estonian lawyer, Mart Soeson, is appealing to remain in Australia to be with his 103-year-old partner, Elfriede Riit, amidst doubts about the authenticity of their relationship due to their significant age difference.
Mart and Elfriede, who began their relationship in 2013, have faced challenges, especially after Elfriede moved into a nursing home in 2022.
Despite this, they are committed to each other, with Elfriede soon celebrating her 104th birthday.
Mart, understanding of skepticism, emphasizes their love, stating:
"What began as a profound connection with the widow of my late grandfather gradually evolved into a deeply meaningful and loving relationship."
Facing difficulties with his permanent residency application due to suspicions from the Department of Home Affairs, Mart has taken his fight to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
He comments on the age gap issue, saying: "Yes, I am aware of our age difference. And I know it's an issue for some people."
"But generally, age gap is an issue in case of older woman and younger man."
"It's never an issue in case of older man and young woman but I'm not able to change that attitude."
Their story started when Mart first met Elfriede in 1996, and their connection deepened over the years, eventually turning romantic.
Mart moved to Australia in 2018 to live with Elfriede, describing the move as one filled with planning and sacrifice.
"I quickly started planning as I knew that it would be difficult to move all my affairs, belongings, and life to Australia to live with my partner permanently," Mart explains, highlighting the depth of his commitment.
Despite Elfriede's move to a nursing home in 2022, their bond remains unbroken.
Mart reflects on their relationship" "The changes in Elfriede's living conditions have not changed our relationship."
"We love each other and are still spiritually and emotionally connected."
Mart, whose legal qualifications are not recognized in Australia, has taken up part-time work as a painter, and together with Elfriede's pension, they manage their living expenses.
They cherish their time together, enjoying simple activities and relying on each other for comfort and companionship.
As their case awaits a new hearing date at the AAT, Mart and Elfriede's story is a testament to their unique bond, facing societal norms and legal challenges with determination and love.
Mart sums up their situation with hope:
"Love doesn't look at age. We have a strong relationship. We want to stay together as she hasn't decades left."