Give each other freedom and trust, says elderly couple married for 55 years

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SINGAPORE - Mr Tan Chong Nam, 82, and Madam Toh Moey Lan, 76, first met in 1965 at the Lim Chu Kang beach where Mr Tan was guarding the coast as a member of the Vigilante Corps defending against Indonesian terrorist attacks.

“It was love at first sight,” said Mr Tan in Mandarin. He was 25 when his friends introduced him to Madam Toh, then 19.

While Madam Toh had no shortage of suitors, she said she chose Mr Tan as he was taller than the others, standing at 1.73m.

The couple, who married after dating for two years, were each other’s first loves and have stayed true through all the hardships of life.

They were among the couples married for at least 50 years who were honoured for their strong and committed marriages at the Golden Jubilee Wedding Celebrations in December. The annual event, which started in 2018, is organised by the Registry of Marriages and the Registry of Muslim Marriages.

All the couples received a gift package, including a medallion, a commemorative certificate signed by President Halimah Yacob, a congratulatory note from Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli and a memento featuring their wedding photo.

As they had only primary-level education, Mr Tan and Madam Toh made their living selling fruit and snacks at a primary school canteen.

When the school closed down 10 years later, they opened a chicken rice stall at a coffee shop in Jurong. Though business was good, the hours were long and the stress of running the business led to frequent quarrels.

By then, they had a son and three daughters. Mr Tan’s mother looked after the children while their parents were working.

After a few years, they gave up the chicken rice business. Mr Tan turned to dealing in cars, while Madam Toh opened a hair salon in their home and sold second-hand goods on the side.

Being self-employed ...

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