Age is just a number
They say good things come to those who wait – two couples share their stories.
By April Zara Chua
“I truly believe there is someone for everyone,” says Ungku Muhammad Ibrahim Bin Ungku Baharudin. The 36-year-old has had his fair share of heartbreaks in his younger years – including some that hurt him so deeply it put him off dating for years.
Despite all that, at 34, he started dating his future wife, Dian Marliah Binte Raihan, who was 32 then. The couple tied the knot a year later in 2016.
Like Ungku and Dian, more and more local residents are finding love later in life. According to the 2016 report released by the Singapore Department of Statistics, the marriage rates for those aged 30 and above have increased significantly over the last decade. Marriages in the 30 to 34 age group went up by 38.19 per cent, while the 35 to 39 age group rose by 34.31 per cent.
Better with age
Ungku, a customer service officer, admits that he had baggage from failed relationships. But with age came maturity that allowed the couple to nurture and manage their relationship better. They welcomed their first child – a baby boy – in November 2017, and shared that finding love late in life has been a rewarding experience for both of them.
According to Dian, a kindergarten principal, having met each other when they were older meant that they were both ready for something more serious and meaningful. “It was all very natural. We have realistic expectations of ourselves and each other, and communication is key in our relationship. We always voice out our thoughts rather than keeping them in.”
“Looks were not important to us by then. We had the same outlook in life and shared many similar qualities. We were also more financially stable – we were just ready,” adds Ungku.
For Jack Ow, 38, and his wife Celest Teo, 30, it was also maturity that made their relationship work. When they met, Jack was 35 and Celest was 27. They dated almost two years before exchanging “I dos” in 2016.
“We were more mature, we were partying less, and we were more ready to start a family,” says the self-employed businessman. While Celest, a graphic designer, is not worried, Jack has some concerns about his age. “We want to enjoy married life first before having kids, but at the same time, I worry about my age – I’ll be in my mid- to late 60s by the time my kids graduate!”
Nonetheless, having a family of their own is certainly in the books. “What attracted me most to Celest is how family-oriented she is. She is very close to her family, and that’s something I firmly believe in.”
Making it work
Relationships take effort and require commitment from both parties. Despite the wisdom that comes with age, couples who meet late in life have their challenges as well. Being at the peak of their careers, most couples have less time for each other, and this is where quality over quantity takes precedence.
“Despite his schedule, he is always willing to spend time with me. I really appreciate his caring personality and how he is respectful of my time, too,” says Celest. “Our schedules clash, but we always make it a point to have dinner before he starts work or have supper after his work,” shares Dian.
For Ungku, who had not been in a relationship for more than 10 years before meeting Dian, there was also a lot of catching up to do. “I had to learn many things quickly, like how to take on responsibilities better and discover what else is needed to keep our relationship going,” he explains.
Keeping the faith
When asked what advice they would give for anyone having any reservations about their age, the two couples have the same advice – the first step starts from you.
For Ungku, it’s important to keep an open mind, and to work on being the best version of yourself. “When that door finally opens, the relationship will truly be a happier and better one.”
Dian believes in keeping yourself in check. “What you want is most likely not what you need. Truth is, ‘the one’ will not be someone who fits all your criteria, so it’s important to be open in meeting and dating different types of people.”
As for Jack and Celest, who met through a social media app, they know for a fact that love is not something that just falls in your lap. “Happiness needs to be found, it won’t come knocking on your door. But, it’s also important to believe that beautiful love exists.”