PUTRAJAYA - Turns out that the oldest elected leader in the world is not that different from ordinary blokes when it comes to staying happily married.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, 93, says tolerance is what has kept him happily married to his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah for 62 years, and counting.
Tolerance, as well as consideration for their children, is the most important factor and key to their much-admired relationship, Tun Dr Mahathir said in an interview with The Third Age Media Association and Bernama News Channel in Putrajaya, state news agency Bernama reported on Sunday (Sept 16).
The couple met at Singapore's King Edward VII College of Medicine - now part of the National University of Singapore - in 1947 and tied the knot in 1956.
"At first of course, when we were young, we have differences, tensions and all that," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying with a faint blush and smile.
"But as you grow older you realise that you cannot change your partner very much and she cannot change me very much and we learn to accept that this is what the person is like."
He noted that Dr Siti Hasmah, 88, has accompanied him for most of his long journey in politics even though she is not a politician.
Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali said she would be "the first one" to support her husband if he becomes Prime Minister again.
"My wife always says that behind every successful man, there is a wife, not just a woman," said Dr Mahathir.
"And if I have to leave her because I have some work, she tolerates that. On the other hand, I tolerate her...I think there is a need to be tolerant."
Dr Mahathir also said couple should strive to keep their marriage intact for the sake of their children.
"The children will never have a good life (if parents break up). So you need to show concern for your children."
Dr Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister was from 1981 to 2003, becoming Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister, before making a comeback in the 14th general election in May.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.