Firsthand: My boyfriend of 11 years finally proposed. I'm glad I waited.

"After all, it is not our marriage. It's the two of you, so it's about what you two want."

Ilyda Chua | December 31, 2023, 08:27 AM

11 years ago, Hui Si went on a date with her polytechnic classmate. They watched a movie, had dinner at Nando's, and soon made it official.

Last month, while on a trip to Spain, her boyfriend of over a decade — Josh — finally got down on one knee. She cried and accepted.

Hui Si's story is unusual. With societal pressures like getting a BTO flat and having kids, 11 years may seem like a long time before getting married.

But here's why the 29-year-old believes it was the perfect time regardless.

As told to Ilyda Chua

How did you two meet?

We met when we were back in poly.

According to my classmates, before I even realised that he was interested, they said that everyone knew. It was quite obvious.

But I didn't know. He was just a guy who we hung out in the group with, and he happened to take the same route home as me.

I don't think we ever had the formal asking each other out kind of thing. It was more like natural, after school 'eh you wanna watch movie?' or 'eh you wanna hang out?' kind of thing.

Poly days. Photo from Hui Si

But I remember our first date. We went to watch a movie and then we went to eat Nando's.

He was just a naturally shy guy. But we [officially got together] a few months later.

Actually I remember when we first got together, he was quite hurt that I didn't change my Facebook relationship status. I thought it was so funny and cute. (laughs)

But eventually I did lah.

Did you think your relationship would last this long?

To be honest, because of his personality, yeah.

Back then it was like a few months puppy love kind of thing.

I didn't think that we would eventually get married, I didn't think that far.

But after a couple of months, I really felt like he was going to be my longest-term boyfriend ever.

Plus his family was very welcoming. We were quite young, so more traditional families might have been more reserved, like oh maybe not serious lah.

But his family was very open-minded. They included me in a lot of family gatherings, and even had our first overseas trip with his family around a year after we got together.

That was very refreshing.

Photo from Hui Si

Did you have an idea of the perfect time to get married?

My parents got married really young. They had me at 24, and my brother at 21.

So growing up, I had this timeline of when I'd get married, when I'd start a family. The goal was quite clear, like maybe 24 to 25.

But when I grew older, I felt these expectations change.

The first time [the topic of marriage came up] was when he was completing his uni. It was always at the back of our heads, but we didn't really talk about it.

I didn't want to give myself the pressure.

We'd take small steps towards it. Like starting a joint account, to have savings for our future.

Another step was having that natural conversation of, are we going to BTO ah?

Yet another step was talking about whether we want kids.

Photo from Hui Si

Have you ever felt pressured to get married earlier?

I feel like I romanticise marriage a bit.

I don't want that societal pressure — that timeline, like when the house is coming, when you're gonna propose, when you're gonna get married.

But I want to be surprised. I want to feel loved, you know?

And we were really comfortable as a couple. We didn't feel like there was a need to change anything.

Until maybe last year.

Maybe because friends around me were getting married. Every wedding I attended, I'd feel 'oh, it's time to get married'.

How about from your relatives? Have they ever asked you to get married earlier?

(tears up) I lost my grandma this year.

She's the number one person who's always rushing me to get married.

So there's always this guilt that she can't see me getting married.

Maybe part of the pressure of suddenly wanting Josh to propose to me is because of her health.

Last year, or even a few years back, I saw that her health was getting worse.

I secretly hoped — in my head — that she could see me get married.

But it didn't happen. It's something that I will always feel sad about.

At the same time, I know that before she passed, she probably had that conversation with Josh [about our engagement].

I believe that she felt quite settled, even though she's not here to witness everything.

The engagement. Photo from Hui Si

My relatives, like my gu gu, my ah yi, my grandparents also always asked me when I would get married.

They would compare me with cousins of the same age, like who already have two kids, you know.

To them it's a very harmless kind of pressure. More like, I want to see you have kids so I can play with them, take care of them.

If you could, would you have chosen to get engaged earlier?

I think I would still choose to be engaged at the same time.

The difference [as compared to when we were younger] is really mentality, and maturity.

Now, we are more sure of what we want.

One example is that Josh is not too keen about kids. On the other hand, I grew up loving kids.

At one point, I did think that if we were to break up, it could have been because we were mismatched. In wanting to start a family, versus not really wanting kids.

But as we progressed in the relationship, I felt my own expectations of wanting a family have also changed.

Like maybe that's no longer a priority, and I wanted to focus on our relationship.

Photo from Hui Si

Now that you're officially engaged, what are your plans? Have you set a date?

Not yet.

We'll have our pre-wedding shoot next year.

Then I think the wedding will most likely be the year after.

For house — when we were having a conversation about housing and all that, Josh did mention that he would like us to stay with his mum.

And it was something I'm comfortable with, because I do have a close relationship with her.

In society [some] say like you shouldn't stay with your mother-in-law, you should have your own space.

But I didn't feel it was a major thing that I wanted, so I was quite okay with it.

As for kids, I want to see what our headspace is like after we get married.

We've never said like, by 29 30, we want to start trying, or anything.

So I guess to me...if it happens, it happens. We'll see how it goes.

Photo from Hui Si

Do you have any advice for people who feel pressured to get married sooner?

This word of advice was from my dad.

When I was sharing with him about my wedding plans, what he said was this:

"Just go with whatever makes you happy.

You don't have to do things just to please us.

After all, it is not our marriage. It's the two of you, so it's about what you two want."

Top image from Hui Si