A woman married her son’s best friend after falling in love with him when he was 16 and is now celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary – despite a 29 year age gap.
Marylin Buttigieg, 60, met her now-husband, William Smith, 31, when her son brought him over after school in June 2006.
William used to come over to play video games.
The pair started to get to know each other and William started to help around the house.
It wasn’t long before they “naturally gravitated towards each other”.
They started a relationship after some convincing from William and the pair got married in April 2009.
The couple has lost most of their friends and family, but they say they “would do it all over again” and are still very loved up.
Marylin, who owns a cleaning business, from Crawley, West Sussex, said: “William and I are still so in love. We’re never apart and if we are we miss each other so much. He’s my soulmate.
“We have suffered a lot of hate over the years and I’ve been called a paedo but we’ve always had each other.
“We’ve stayed true to ourselves and our feelings and that is what matters.”
William, a film producer, said: “I knew we had something special. She was and still is my dream woman.”
William started to help Marylin around the house as she suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), which is a long term illness that causes extreme tiredness and muscle pain among other symptoms.
Their friendship eventually blossomed into something romantic, but they both were hesitant about being in a relationship.
They say they had already been mocked by their family.
The mum-of-seven said: “I didn’t want to take away William’s life.
“I didn’t want to have any more kids, but I didn’t want to stop William from having a family if he wanted.
“My family had also already judged us for being friends and thought we were something more before we were just because William helped me out.
“I think that made us gravitate towards each other, to be honest.”
William said: “It took a lot of convincing. She quizzed me to make sure I was sure this was what I wanted. I was 100% sure it was.”
They moved in together shortly after deciding to give their relationship a go.
Marylin says all but one of her children “disowned her”, but the couple stuck by each other and fell head over heels in love.
William has also since lost touch with his family.
In February 2009 William proposed and the couple got married soon after in April 2009.
They enjoyed a honeymoon to Gibraltar – where Marylin is originally from.
William said: “We’ve struggled a lot with hate over the years.
“And lost our families too but we are now family. People hurl us abuse and it’s affected my jobs in the past, but it is getting better now.”
Marylin added: “I’ve been called a paedo more times than I could remember.
“We’ve been to hell and back and even now we get nails in our tyres. People just can’t leave us alone.”
The couple is still together and no longer worry about what other people think.
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Marylin said: “I tell William to kiss me in the streets because why should anyone care?”
“I’m proud of him and our relationship – let them stare if they want to.”
The couple is now raising money to make a film about their story.
William said: “We want to tell our story our way. And to change the judgement surrounding an age gap relationship.”