She was five years older than him. She was also divorced. And he was an only son.
It was all too much for the young engineer’s parents, who told him to stop seeing the older woman.
“It took them more than a year before they accepted me, after they got to know me,” recalled Madam Tan, a property agent who declined to give her full name for this story.
The couple are avid gamers who met playing the online dancing game Audition. They went out for five years before tying the knot in July. She was 35, he was 30.
A growing proportion of men are marrying women older than themselves.
Last year, 17.2 per cent of all marriages involved an older bride, up from 15.5 per cent in 2001, going by data from the Department of Statistics.
This meant there were 4,697 older brides last year, almost 40 per cent more than the 3,443 in 2001.
While many of the women were just a year or two older than the men, 1,016 brides had at least five years on their husbands last year.
They made up 3.7 per cent of all marriages last year, up from 3 per cent in 2001, where 677 brides were five or more years older than the grooms.
Counsellors say that men today are less concerned about their partner’s age, and what matters is being attracted to them.
Mr Leng Chin Fai, director of Fei Yue Community Services, said: “With love, the age difference is not so important. Women are also better at preserving their looks and many older women don’t look older than their husbands.”
But couples with older brides are still in the minority. The men were older in 70.2 per cent of couples who wed last year and 12.6 per cent had partners the same age.
Television producer Ivan Tan, 35, married a woman six years older. He met his wife, who is self-employed, at the Zouk Out outdoor bash and was drawn to her good looks.
Mr Tan, who had three previous girlfriends younger than him, said of his wife: “I found her to be quite mature, without being cynical. Older girls bring with them a sense of stability – they have fewer mood swings and throw fewer tantrums.”
Married for six years, they have two daughters, aged five and 2.5 years.
He said: “My friends think I’m very lucky to have married her and I also think I got the better deal. She has done so much for me and helped me be a better person.”