To 33-year-old Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, foreign is not necessarily better. It's just that, sometimes, that "matching of souls" happens to take place across the continents, over a period of time. She met her husband, 56-year-old Jan-Erik Nilsson, in Singapore, 'dated' long-distance 1st before going to live with him in Sweden.
|From our wedding day in 2006, just before the tea-ceremony.
Cheryl is a PhD research student at the Gothenburg University while husband JE is a consultant in information technology and one of the three founders of the Swedish East-India ship project: the Gotheborg III ship.
Here is Cheryl's story:
"I met my husband Jan-Erik (JE) in Singapore, when he was visiting for business purposes, and I had promised to show him around Singapore.
At the time that JE and I met, I was actually in another relation, so it took quite some time before I realised that JE was The One. There were many questions, a lot of soul-searching on my part, and at that time, I was mostly concerned about our age difference since he was much older than I.
As he was not based in Singapore, our ?dating' was mostly via email and we met whenever he was in Singapore.
We communicated via email for the entire first year of our relationship.
We both liked and wanted to talk with each other about everything, all big and small things in life, from philosophy to favourite pets.
His emails made my day and made me laugh even on my bad days.
The one question I found myself asking, when deciding to be with him was, 'Does he make me happy?'
And more often than not, I found the answer to be, yes.
It was a matching of souls and I found that he was someone I didn't want to be without.
We lived together for several years in Sweden before getting married.
It is very difficult to move countries. Northern Europe is very different from Southeast-Asia. The climate, food, culture and language are all different. They don't even drive on the same side of the road.
|From our recent trip to Europe, in Aachen, Germany, outside the Aachen Cathedral.
Apart from the climate adjustment I had to make, learning a new language and learning to dress for new weather conditions, the first few years were also difficult because of our cultural differences. We could quarrel about the simplest things because our expectations about how things should be done were different.
But, now, we're very happy. I'm right now finalising my PhD at Gothenburg University in Sweden and we're finding time to travel a lot in business and for fun. We're now planning our next steps in life and hope to find our way back to Singapore, where JE was headed anyway, when we first met.
No, I don't think nationality is an issue when choosing a life partner. I see from many of my friends that Singaporean, both men and women, make great life partners. Ultimately, it's a meeting of souls.
Of course, it's most convenient if Mr Right lives just across the street, but sometimes you find that destiny seems to have something else in mind for you.
I asked my husband and he said: 'If all Singaporean women are like you, I like them all!'
On a more serious note, JE said: 'It is more a matter of personality than nationality, who will be a good life partner for anyone. You can meet your perfect match anywhere, so us meeting in Singapore just made things complicated, but eventually your soul tells you what you are looking for.
'We both do anything we feel comfortable with at home. When it comes to cooking, well, we actually compete for getting at the pots and pans in the kitchen since we are both quite interested in food.
Sometimes, it may be a good thing that you are very different rather than very similar. It makes it easier to remember that you are actually two persons with two dreams and two wishes and that you don't automatically want the same things just because you are married.'"