A woman who married a man young enough to be her son said they had proved the critics wrong as they celebrated their 10-year anniversary.
William and Marilyn Buttigieg, aged 25 and 54, hit the headlines in 2009 when they wed, four years after becoming a couple.
“The age gap doesn’t matter. Age is just a number and it’s about time people got over it.”
William had been a friend of Marilyn’s family and fell for her when he was only 16 – although he said it took him months to work up the courage to tell her how he felt.
He said: “Three or four months went by, then another couple of months – I didn’t have the courage to say anything about it, probably due to the fact of the age gap.”
Eventually, though, the teenager found his tongue and asked her out – four years later they married, with William taking his wife’s name.
The couple came in for a lot of criticism from people who disapproved of the 29 year age gap and predicted the marriage was doomed to failure.
They were even confronted with rumours Marilyn was pregnant – but the couple refused to let the narrow views of others grind them down.
Marilyn, who works at a doctors’ surgery in Crawley Down, said of their marriage: “I couldn’t wish for anything better. We proved all critics wrong. Everybody was saying it wasn’t going to last. We’ve proved we are a real thing.”
Marilyn said she and William still had to put up with people giving them the occasional odd looks in the street.
She added: “I suppose we always will but people should realise by now after all these years it’s a real thing and let us be. We thought it would stop.
“We would always have the odd looks, we don’t really care to be honest. We’ve had so much grief over the years nothing shocks us any more. The age gap doesn’t matter. Age is just a number and it’s about time people got over it.”
Despite doing her best to ignore the stares and comments, Marilyn admitted to being angry by the double standards when it came to relationships with a large age gap. She said: “It’s OK for a man to do it, why is it not OK if a woman does it?”
Marilyn and William will have been married for six years on Thursday (April 23) and also plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the day they got together on September 6. As for the celebration itself, Marilyn said they had not yet decided what they would do – but it would be “something big”.
While a meal out has suited them in the past, they had also developed a taste for something more adventurous.
Marilyn said: “We tend to travel a lot. We’ve made a lot of very nice memories on the way, on the holidays we’ve had – great memories.”
William agreed, adding: “In life, we cannot take money or anything else with us apart from memories.”
Like many young husbands, William said he had noticed how time seemed to be flying by as he and his wife built their life together.
He said: “Everything is good in our relationship. I just cannot fathom where the time has gone. Our main goal is to make more memories. Hopefully time slows down a bit because it’s going too quickly!”