Don’t Miss Our “In The Mood For Love” Contest! Details Below
He was smitten from the moment he laid eyes on her 58 years ago. Six decades and three children later, Chan Sing Tiek, 79, declares that he is still as besotted with his wife, Grace Tan Kee Yook.
“We have been married for 52 years and our love has only grown stronger over the years. I still open the car door for her, tell her how beautiful she is every day and say ‘I love you’, sometimes 10 times a day,” says Chan.
“Sometimes I think he says it too much,” Tan adds, rolling her eyes in mock-exasperation. “But he is sincere. He doesn’t just say the words. He is very romantic … he has always been the romantic one. When we were courting, he would write me beautiful love letters. On my 75th birthday, he bought me a bouquet of 75 roses,” shares Tan who is obviously touched as much as she denies being a romantic.
Their love story began in 1962. Chan was 21 at the time, a small town boy from Air Tawar, Perak trying to make a living in Kuala Lumpur. Taiping-born Tan was just 19, a nursing student living in a hostel.
“We were introduced by his sister-in-law who was my coursemate,” explains Tan. “The first time he came to see me at my hostel, he brought a friend along and it was his friend who asked me out first. This fellow didn’t dare ask me out.”
Chan explains that he hesitated because Tan seemed way out of his league.
“I was from a village. I was just a Chinaman-type boy who was Chinese-educated and poor, and she was this beautiful, sophisticated, big town girl who went to an English school,” he explains candidly.
It took three or four meetings before Chan plucked up the courage to ask Tan out on a date.
“I remember our first date clearly. We went to see a movie at the Federal theatre, which was just walking distance from her hostel. It was raining heavily and I was holding an umbrella. My arm brushed against her arm and I was so thrilled I didn’t know how to behave,” Chan remembers, his eyes lighting up as he recalls the magical date.
For Tan, the differences in their background didn’t matter. She was attracted to Chan’s honesty and sincerity; and his persistence in courting her.
“He amazed me, you know. He’d come to look for me at my hostel and if I wasn’t there, he’d come and find me again. He’d wait outside the cinema for me and even though there would be so many people coming out of the cinema, he could always spot me. So, I gave up. I knew there was no escaping this guy,” says Tan with a laugh. “He was a simple, straight-forward guy and thank goodness, I had the wisdom to recognise that even though I was so young.”
Chan recalls how he used to scrimp and save his measly salary to take his beau out on dates.
“I was earning just RM140 a month. So I would skip lunch just so that I could have some money to take her out for dates,” he shares.
“Poor fella,” says Tan, laughing. “But yes, we would meet each other whenever we could find the time.”
The two got engaged after about three years of being “boyfriend and girlfriend” and soon after, they got married.
“Actually we are very different and my relatives kept asking me if I was sure he was the man I wanted to marry. He was a businessman and I’d always said I didn’t want to end up with a businessman as I saw them as dishonest. But he was a simple, sincere, straight-forward, compassionate man and I loved that about him. I still do,” says Tan.
“And I said I would never marry a nurse because nurses are too busy looking after everyone else, working nights and weekends she wouldn’t be able to look after our family. But because of our love for each other, we changed our minds,” he says.
Like east and west
Marriage has been a most wonderful adventure for the two. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
“We argued a lot when we were young. A lot. And at times I did wonder what I’d gotten myself into.
“He was old-fashioned and reserved and I was outgoing and we had quite a few arguments. Honestly, we were like east and west.
“But in hindsight, all that arguing in our early years was good. It was necessary because it helped us see ourselves better and realise what was important to us.
“In any marriage, you have to change or adapt. As we grew older, we ironed out all our differences and we didn’t have anything to argue about anymore,” says Tan.
For Chan, true love truly conquers all.
“The greatest gift you can give your children is to love your wife. For any marriage to work, you have to agree to disagree and never let an argument spill over to the next day. We made a commitment to love each other and it is through good times and bad. And honestly, our love has become stronger over time,” states Chan.
“He is a very good husband and I thank God for him. His compassion and kind heart are what attracted me to him and still makes me love him.
“And, in 52 years of marriage, he has never complained about my cooking. Although I must admit that in my younger days I was a good cook,” she says.
“What is there to complain about when someone takes the trouble to cook for you everyday?” asks Chan.
Their secret to a lasting marriage?
“You have to trust each other. For us, what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is mine – there is no difference. After all, if you don’t trust each other, you have no business being married,” says Chan.
Adds Tan, “Love is a commitment. It’s not just a feeling. Sure, there will be arguments.
“But it’s how you handle them that’s important. Nobody is perfect, after all.”
“In The Mood For Love” Contest
StarLifestyle and Star2.com are bringing you love stories every day, starting from Valentine’s Day to Chap Goh Meh (the other Valentine’s Day) on Feb 19. The 15th day of the first Lunar month is all about finding love, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate love all week!
Read our stories, then go to our social media pages on Facebook (facebook.com/starlifestyle) and Instagram (instagram.com/starlifestylemy), and join our special celebration of love, “In The Mood For Love”, by winning a pair of Longines Hydroconquest watches worth RM10,000 for you and your loved one.
How To Win At Love!
1. Collect a question daily from Feb 14-19 based on the love stories. You must answer all six (6) questions.
2. Complete this slogan: Love is ….. (in not more than 50 words).
3. Email all six answers and slogan to firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb 20. Include your full name, MyKad number and contact number, and don’t forget to add “In The Mood For Love Contest” in the subject field.
Terms & Conditions
1. The contest is open to all residents in Malaysia except for employees of the Star Media Group Berhad and members of their immediate families.
2. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash.
3. By participating in this contest, participants are deemed to have agreed to all rules and regulations of this contest. The Star reserves the right to alter/change/add/cancel any terms & conditions of contest without prior notice.
4. Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entertained.