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Her mum disapproved of her interracial relationship

Her mum disapproved of her interracial relationship
PHOTO: Alvelyn Alko

Love is more than rose-tinted romance-it's also about sticking together when things get rough. In this three-part series, three women open up about the hurdles they had to overcome with their spouses.

Alvelyn Alko is Chinese and her husband is Malay. They first met when she was 20, when they were working in the same bookstore and started dating shortly after.

"Even then, we didn't really get stares, maybe just your double takes from strangers. Friends were also very accepting and simply asked questions like, 'Do you need to convert?' However, my mum said, 'You'd better not be dating him – he is of another race and I cannot accept it,'" says the 34-year-old.

Though her mother was unsupportive of their romance for many years, her husband's family has been welcoming towards her since Day One.

"They have always been open-minded, and I always feel respected. They have never tried to change me or forced me to be someone else. They also stood by me when I had some family stuff going on. I have so much love for them."

Undeterred by her mother's disapproval, her husband continued striving to win over the older woman. They eventually got married with her blessing when she was 26 and now have two kids together.

"We've never had any cultural clashes and don't experience any discrimination as an interracial couple at all. As it is, society is a lot more open, and interracial relationships are very common now.

"People are very respectful, and if they ask questions, it's usually out of sheer curiosity, like whether our kids will be studying Malay or Mandarin," she adds.

"We celebrate both Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. My mother-in-law speaks Malay to the kids, while my mum speaks to them in Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese. I think it is important that they are exposed to the different languages as it's the first stage of self-identity in a social context."

Alvelyn reveals that she often receives DMs from younger girls asking how they should let their parents know that they are dating someone of a different race. Her advice? Handle the expectations of the "more difficult family" first, and consistently display thoughtful actions by buying them food or gifts.

But while she was willing to weather the challenges that came with being with her husband out of love, she doesn't believe that love conquers all. To her, what's most crucial is that the values and goals of the couple are aligned.

"There will be a lot of differences between the two of you, and you have to decide what you are able and unable to live with. There will also be a lot of ups and downs in the different phases of life, from before marriage to after marriage, and then to have kids.

"It is seeing each other in the most beautiful and ugly moments, with so many memories created, that makes it a marriage."

This article was first published in Her World Online.

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