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Married at 22

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This couple put a ring on it after dating for five months.

They got married after dating for five months. She was 22 and he was 29.

Before marriage, Jesline Chua was a social butterfly whose only hobby was clubbing with her friends. So it is no surprise that Jesline met her would-be husband at a club.

"We had mutual friends, and he asked me for a drink," she recalled.

They hit off and the pair got together right away. From meeting up weekly with their mutual friends, the couple moved on to private dates several times a week.

In 2014, Jesline, then a 22-year-old purchaser, decided she was ready to settle down – after just two months of dating.

Three years later, Jesline and her husband Terence Aw, are parents to two children: 3-year-old Ariselle and Athenz, who is 11 months old.

Terence-and-Jesline-married-in-2014
Terence (left) and Jesline (right) got married in 2014.
PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

"Seeing how responsible and matured he was from the way he took care of his parents as the youngest child, and how well he settled his family's housing loans, I trusted my instincts and decided this is the guy for me," recounted Jesline, now 25.

However, Jesline did not break the news of her wedding plans until the couple had everything planned out.

While Terence's parents rejoiced that he was getting married, Jesline's parents were supportive, as the couple were already supporting themselves financially.

The marriage came almost naturally, without any proposal.

Jesline, who is working as a purchaser, recalled jokingly: "Well, he did propose, but he was drunk at that time, so it didn't count. That was kind of a disappointment." 

While waiting for a Registry of Marriages (ROM) date, the couple began trying for a baby. With her eyes lit up, Jesline said: "I like kids! Also, Terence is older, and I've always loved the idea of having a family of my own."

Their daughter came along almost immediately. Jesline discovered she was pregnant three months before their wedding in April 2014.

their-wedding-day
Jesline's baby bump was barely visible during their wedding, which was held at Pasir Ris Park.
PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

Did she have to hide her pregnancy from family and friends, since they were not married yet?

"Some of my friends [who were older] were already married or pregnant too, so we were all very cool about it," recounted Jesline.

"My parents were very open and accepting too," she added.

For Jesline, getting married barely changed her lifestyle. She still hangs out with her friends and goes on occasional dates with Terence.

She said matter-of-factly: "Marriage is just a [piece of] paper – it doesn't really affect anything or anyone else. When a kid came into the picture, responsibilities and [financial] burdens started to roll in…Sometimes, we have heated arguments over finances and disputes over our kids or in-laws."

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Jesline with her first child, Ariselle.
PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

The couple lives with Terence's parents. They help to take care of the children at home while the couple work in the day.

A true test of love came when Jesline found out she was pregnant again in July 2015.

"We planned on having two kids, but unfortunately, the second baby was unplanned," explained Jesline, with a sheepish smile.

Terence-Jesline-and-their-daughter
The couple and their daughter rocking their matching T-shirts.
PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

As Athenz came a year earlier than expected, the couple struggled with finances. Faced with the pressure to earn more money for the family, Terence decided to switch from his office job to being a hawker.

"Working in my previous job for 10 years didn't help me in my job advancement, so I took up the courage and resigned," said the young father, who now owns a stall at a hawker near their house.

Jesline, who was a few weeks away from her due date when Terence made the job switch, said: "We got into a big fight because I didn't agree to it."

How did they deal with it?

"Eventually, I gave in," Jesline recalled. "I knew he was fulfilling his responsibilities and not playing around."

Jesline-second-child
A year after Ariselle was born, Jesline had Athenz (pictured).
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ANGELA OUYANG

Having children means that the couple has less time for themselves nowadays, although they try to find time for dates.

"With the kids around, it's not always about myself anymore…But it's not too bad," she said, "I still can go clubbing, but definitely not regularly!"

"We would go for a movie or supper when the kids are sleeping," she added. "That's already considered luxurious."

"Sometimes, I have to reject my friends [when they ask me to club with them]. But we're all growing older and settling down, so they understand."

"I also learnt how to manage my finances and not play around so much," she added. Despite these challenges, Jesline doesn't have any regrets about starting a family in her youth.

"Not at all!" she exclaimed. "I played for quite a while before I got married, so it was time I settled down."

"Initially, I regretted not travelling much before I got married. But after seeing my babies, I changed my mind. When they grow up, I'll have the chance to do it while others are still worrying about their kids!"

Athenz-and-Ariselle
Terence and Jesline want to be there for their kids as they grow up.
PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

What advice does she have for youths who are contemplating between starting a career and getting married?

"Follow your heart. Married life or not, your life will be the same. If you're not planning to get married early, start pursuing your dreams and travel the world before you get tied down!" said Jesline.

BANNER PHOTO CREDIT: JESLINE CHUA

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