Crawley woman who married her son’s best friend for 16 years says she endured hatred

A woman has revealed how she endured abuse on the street after falling in love with her teenage son’s best friend at age 16.

Marylin Buttigieg, 60, a mother of seven from Crawley, West Sussex, met her now-husband, William Smith, 31, when her son brought him along after school in June 2006.

The pair say they were “naturally drawn to each other,” but William was hesitant at first, fearing what people would think.

After coming out as a couple and getting married in April 2009, Marilyn and William are now celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary, despite the 29-year age difference.

They admit that they’ve had a lot of nasty comments from strangers about their relationship and lost a lot of friends and relatives who absolutely disagree that they’re a couple.

Only one of Marilyn’s seven children speaks to her – including the son who introduced them – and William has lost contact with his family.

Marylin Buttigieg, 60, a mother of seven from Crawley, West Sussex, met her now-husband, William Smith, 31, when he came by in 2006 to hang out with her then 16-year-old son

The couple became friends and fell in love and are now celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary - but say they have lost friends and family due to their unusual relationship.  They married in April 2009, pictured above.

The couple became friends and fell in love and are now celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary – but say they have lost friends and family due to their unusual relationship. They married in April 2009, pictured above.

However, the couple, pictured on holiday together, say they would 'do it all again' and are still very happy

However, the couple, pictured on holiday together, say they would ‘do it all again’ and are still very happy

The relationship started when William came to Marilyn’s house to play video games with her son.

They say they got to know each other slowly and William started helping around the house. They say they have been inseparable ever since.

Marylin, who owns a cleaning business, says, “William and I are still so in love. We are never apart and when we are, we miss each other terribly. He is my soul mate.’

They say they lost most of their friends and family because they chose to be together, but they admit they “would do it all over again” and are still very happily loved.

She continues, “We’ve had a lot of hate over the years and I was called a ‘paedo’, but we’ve always had each other. We stayed true to ourselves and our feelings and that’s what matters.’

William, a film producer, says he knew it was love and still feels that way: “I knew we had something special. She was and still is my dream woman.’

“We stayed true to ourselves and our feelings and that’s what counts,” Marilyn says the couple have no regrets about their relationship and are still happy 15 years later

Their love grew when William started helping Marylin around the house after she was diagnosed with ME - a long-term illness that causes extreme fatigue and muscle aches

Their love grew when William started helping Marylin around the house after she was diagnosed with ME – a long-term illness that causes extreme fatigue and muscle aches

The couple say they want to change story and judgment about relationships between age differences

The couple say they want to change story and judgment about relationships between age differences

After their first meeting, William started helping Marylin around her house; she has ME, a long-term condition that causes extreme fatigue and muscle aches, among other things.

Soon their friendship grew into something romantic, but they both hesitated – after being mocked by their family before they were even a couple.

“I didn’t want to take William’s life,” Marylin says.

“I didn’t want to have any more children, but I didn’t want to stop William from starting a family if he wanted to. My family had also already rated us for being friends and thought we were something more before we were – simply because William was helping me.

We’ve been to hell and back and even now we’re getting nails in our tires and I’ve been called a pedo more times than I can remember…

Marilyn Buttigieg, on her relationship with the age difference

“I think that’s what drew us to each other to be honest.”

William says they talked about being a couple before they actually got together: “She questioned me to make sure this was what I wanted. I was 100% sure it was.’

After a long conversation, they decided to give it a shot and soon moved in together. Marylin says all but one of her children “disowned her,” but the couple stuck together and fell head over heels in love.

William has since also lost contact with his family.

In February 2009, William proposed and the couple married shortly after in April 2009. They enjoyed a honeymoon trip to Gibraltar – where Marylin is originally from.

William says, “We’ve struggled a lot with hate over the years and lost our families too, but we’re family now. People scold us and it affected my job in the past, but it’s better now.’

Lasting love: Marilyn and William say they now want to make a movie about their affair

Lasting love: Marilyn and William say they now want to make a movie about their affair

Marilyn adds: “We’ve been to hell and back and even now we’re getting nails in our tires and I’ve been called a pedo more times than I could remember. People just can’t leave us alone.’

Despite the abuse, the couple has remained strong and no longer cares about what anyone thinks.

“I tell William to kiss me in the street, because why should anyone care?” says Marylin. “I’m proud of him and our relationship – let them stare if they want.”

The couple is now raising money to make a film about their story.

William now plans to turn their love affair into a movie and is raising crowdfunding to raise money for the project: “We want to tell our story our way and change the judgment of an age-gap relationship.”

Marylin says, “I think people’s perceptions have yet to change. I couldn’t imagine anyone else loving me more than William. I trust him with everything.’

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