Second time lucky – Part V

Five real-life couples share stories of how they found true love the second time round. Read the FIFTH and last story and get inspired.

Read the first three stories here:

5. My happy ending

I have always loved films with fairy-tale endings and one of my favourite films is The American President. I like these movies not just because of the actors portraying the roles, I like them more because they depict the old cliche love overcomes any obstacle and transcends any divide. Little did I realise that my life would follow a similar path. After a very difficult first marriage that ended in an annulment, I had been determined to not open myself to any man.

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In fact, only a handful knew that my marriage had ended in 2001. I then focussed my life on raising my son Miggy, who you could say, was the only man in my life. Thankfully, I was also blessed with a very good career with a leading beverage company that not only provided for Miggy and me, but also kept me busy. Of course I will not deny it, I was envious of couples and families when I saw them together on weekends. I would always wonder what it would be like to be in a loving and committed relationship, but I was too scared to open myself (and my son) again and be vulnerable to any pain. I had decided I did not want any more complications. Then I met Alex.

How the relationship grew

Alex and I met in 2003 when he was transferred from India to head our company in the Philippines. I found him to be an inspiring leader and felt privileged to be working for him. Our encounters were always professional in nature, except for the few social events where he would always tease me on the amount of food I ate (Alex claims later that it was his British side showing his fondness for me!).

This was the case until Fate interceded. In 2005, at a dinner hosted by our ad agency (for winning an advertising award), I happened be seated beside Alex. While waiting for others to arrive, we got talking, and were surprised to find that we were in similar circumstances (he too had been married). Soon, we found ourselves communicating more often after that evening, but mostly on the phone, given I was working under him, albeit indirectly. We knew after only a few but very long conversations (and sky-rocketing phone bills!) that we were serious and wanted to have an open relationship. Alex immediately informed his manager about us. People were surprised when I resigned after almost nine years with the company and shocked when I told them the reason - I was in love.

Opposites attract

People asked me why I decided to take a second chance in love and risk a lot of things, including my relationship with my son, my career and my heart. They had reasons to be nervous for me. Yes, on the face of it, Alex and I have very little in common. We come from different backgrounds, with Alex being British and I being born and raised in the Philippines. We are both of the Boar sign which means our age gap is 12 years. (The Chinese calendar says that people are born under the same sign after every 12 years). Alex appears to be quiet and reserved while I'm viewed to be the life of the party!

In my culture, children try and stay with their parents for as long as possible, while in Alex's, independence is encouraged at an early age and studying at a boarding school is common. I am a believer in a Higher Being, he is a neo-Darwinist. So then why? My answer was and remains simple - it felt very right. In Alex, I found the closest to what people call a soul mate. He's my life partner and my best friend. We complement each other because of, and not despite, our backgrounds and the age difference. Often, we find ourselves talking until 2am on just about anything. The glove just fits. Don't get me wrong, we have our share of arguments, like other couples. And most of the time it's because we fail to communicate well enough, so almost always we find ourselves saying in my culture. But these discussions strengthen our relationship and help us understand the other more.

Making it work

So how do we make it work? We have learned from our previous marriages never to take each other for granted, and that while our children will always have our love and attention, our priority is each other. We appreciate each other more (and say it often!) because of what we have gone through in the past. Every day together is a blessing. We are also both in touch with our emotions and are affectionate towards each other and all our children. Our home is full of hugs and kisses, and our children, Matthew, three and Samantha, now six months, benefit the most from these.

I still get emotional whenever Alex leaves for his frequent travels, no matter how short they are. And still feel nervous like a teenager while waiting for him to come home. Communication is always an integral part of our relationship. We send each other text messages during the day and Skype every single day when Alex is away from home. We have our own family traditions that we try to keep - right from chatting over cocktails before dinner to reading books to Matthew and Samantha every night before bedtime. Saturday is our date night while Sunday is when we do something with the children.

We are lucky to be in Singapore, where there are so many child-friendly places such as the Botanic gardens and a worldclass zoo. While we do most things together, we also allow space for the other to grow. Alex and I have mutual respect and admiration for each other. We treat each other as equals. It helps that we have both worked in a number of fastpaced MNCs and have similar work ethics. So I understand fully why he works as hard as he does. He never needs to feel guilty when he is working late as I used to do the same (and worse!) when I was still a professional. After almost six years together and six children between us (Alex's eldest is 22 years old, and we had Samantha six months ago), I can honestly say I'm living in my own fairy-tale!

Reproduced From Good Housekeeping. © 2011. LMIL. All rights reserved.

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