You never know when love will come knocking at your door.
For Luke Leasure, 30, and Charmaine Lim, 20, theirs started with a right swipe on Tinder and love blossomed after that on the fighting mat.
Fast forward two years since they met, the pair are now married and co-own Stronghold, a mixed martial arts gym along Turf Club Road.
Photo: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh
SHE WAS ONLY 18
Charmaine, then 18, was still a student when she met Luke, then 28, on the dating app. Besides having a 10-year age gap between them, Luke is from the US, though he works in Singapore.
But that didn't stop them from pursuing love.
Charmaine said there were no cheesy pick-up lines when he slid into her DMs (direct messages). It was just a simple "hi" that caught her attention.
She added: "The danger alarms did not ring and there were no creepy vibes."
Luke, on the other hand, was careful to not come off the wrong way. He made sure that Charmaine knew he wasn't playing around.
While Tinder is known for casual hookups and non-committed relationships, the couple stated that they weren't looking for flings, so that made things easier.
Photo: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh
When asked about their first impressions of each other, Luke shared that this is his second marriage.
He recounted how his first marriage had very stereotypical problems that couples face. A lot of it was judgement-based.
"I always tell Charmaine, the one thing that I love about her most is she's totally non-judgemental. Which is huge for me, because I make a lot of mistakes."
Charmaine quipped: "He is also not going to judge me for the things I do", and added that he's very sweet, respectful, polite and loyal.
FIRST OBSTACLE: TRADITIONAL CHINESE PARENTS
You would think intermarriages are common these days, but Luke was met with his first obstacle: Charmaine's traditional Chinese parents.
Even though Charmaine's mum was supportive, she had her fair share of doubts too; not knowing if she should be worried that her daughter is dating someone 10 years older, or happy because he would therefore be able to look after her.
"I told my mum about Luke first, then she broke the news to my dad. It took him a while to accept Luke, but he's warming up...and is still warming up", they laughed.
Luke said: "Most of the relationship issues with the family were mostly career-related. Because my job as a mixed martial art coach is unique, her parents would think, 'how is this a real career'?"
Photo: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh
CONVINCING HER PARENTS TO GET MARRIED
A year ago, they planned to move to Malaysia to work for a gym in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Luke decided to propose to Charmaine because it was important for them to not get separated.
Conflict arose as to Charmaine's parents, it seemed like Luke was taking Charmaine away.
He assured her dad that he was serious about her, and explained that he was never about taking advantage of her. At the same time, the couple sat them down to announce their plans of getting married.
I could sense relief from Luke as he said: "We've been living with them now for the last few months since we're back in Singapore, that has really helped us get to know each other better, and now I think they're quite happy."
After returning from their stint in KL, the couple held an intimate solemnisation ceremony in Singapore with close friends and family on May 19.
"I was really nervous and felt like I was going to faint a few times", said Charmaine.
"Luke thought I was going to run away, he kept trying to calm me down while joking and being serious at the same time to not run away when we were on our way to the venue."
She added that the big wedding with all the extended family will be next year so that her relatives have more time to get used to him being around.
MEETING LUKE'S FAMILY & BABY PLANS
The couple will be visiting Luke's mum in West Virginia in a few months' time. It will be Charmaine's first time visiting the US and getting to meet his family.
Luke shared that his mum, who's supportive of their relationship, is battling cancer, and has joked that "before she dies, she wants to see us have a baby soon."
Considering that Charmaine is only 20 this year and they have just started their business, Luke said any baby plans will probably be on cards five to 10 years from now.
Luke and Charmaine teaching kids MMA. It looks like they'll excel in the parenting department. Photo: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh
HAVE NOT GONE OUT FOR A MOVIE SINCE THEY STARTED DATING
Co-owning a gym and seeing each other 24/7 at home and at work must take its toll on a relationship.
Though the couple agrees it has its challenges, but they've always been the sort of couple that likes "hanging out together".
On coping with challenges, Luke said: "The good thing is we exercise regularly, so it takes a lot of the stress out."
He added: "Every day we come in here and we choke each other, punch and kick each other and, in some sense, we have a very non-stressful relationship because of that. We hash it out on the mats".
What is surprising though, is that Luke has never brought Charmaine out on a movie date. Like, what?
"Everybody shames me for it!", exclaimed Luke. "We watch a lot of movies together, (we're) just not big on going out to the cinemas". (Also read: 10 fun date ideas for homebody couples)
MOST ROMANTIC THING THEY'VE DONE FOR EACH OTHER
So, I took the opportunity to ask about the most romantic thing they've done for each other. (Read:
Pausing for a few seconds to think, they concluded it was more of the gestures that swept them off their feet.
"She is consistently doing the little things right," said Luke, continuing, "it's nice that Charmaine is always quick to resolve conflicts too and that's more important than the big, grand gestures".
Charmine thinks that it's sweet that Luke invites her to hang out with his guy friends, adding that he doesn't mind spending 24/7 with her.
And we have to agree, that's pretty romantic.
This article was originally published on ASIAONE.