SINGAPORE - Some couples here date each other for a long time but experts say it may be wiser to settle down earlier.
For Mr William Teo, his seven-year courtship of his eventual wife Catherine Koh several decades ago meant it gve him time to prove his worth to her and her family.
The couple, who have two married children, met when they became next-door neighbours in a block of rental flats in Tanjong Rhu in the 1970s. He was 17, she 16.
Mr Teo, now 61 and a grandfather of one, and a technical officer in a maintenance company, says his late mother-in- law was against the relationship.
"She did not like me because I was not highly educated," he says. "But what was in my heart and mind, no one could see." He only had vocational schooling then.
The couple stole about an hour each day, meeting along the corridor a few floors below their 10th-storey rental homes, he says.
Midway through their courtship years, Madam Koh's father suffered a stroke and Mr Teo went to their home in the evenings after work as a factory operator, to help bathe and feed him.
He won their hearts. After national service, he obtained an electrician's licence, saved up for his wedding and married her in 1975.
He and Madam Koh, now 60 and a room stewardess in a hotel, live in a four-room HDB flat in Bedok Reservoir.
Theirs was not quite the epic romantic journey of Hong Kong celebrity couple Sammi Cheng and Andy Hui, who recently got engaged after more than 20 years, including a seven-year separation.
But it is longer than relationship experts say is necessary. Two dating agency owners say most of their clients tie the knot between two and three years of dating.
Mr Jerald Lim, 39, owner of One Plus One Dating, says: "Courtship shouldn't take too long. If things don't work out, it's a waste of time for both parties."
Ms Michelle Goh, 33, who runs CompleteMe dating agency, says: "Two years give a couple a good gauge of each other. You can't know everything there is to know about your partner before marriage."
After that, couples need to "give and take and compromise".