By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno
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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Joe Roberts, James Thorne
Editor: Beth Angus
AN AGE-GAP couple, separated by 45 years, have revealed how they discovered a connection between them that extended far beyond their four-year relationship.
Stefani, 24, and Don Walper, 69, of Armstrong, British Columbia, are now married with a one-year-old son, but they were shocked to learn they shared a big part of their lives years before meeting.
Stefani explained to Barcroft TV: “We had been together two or three months and we were laying in bed one day talking and I was like ‘you should tell me a secret, tell me something nobody knows.’”
Don began to tell Stefani about his previous marriage of five years and how he had a son with his ex-wife.
“So Don tells me this story,” Stefani continued. “And I was like ‘wait what’s your son’s name?’ And Don repeats it. I was like ‘oh my god, I know him.’
“I knew Don’s son right from pre-school. We went to kindergarten, all through elementary school, all through middle school together, and all through high school.
“We graduated together as well. Our friendship was quite strong when we were little.”
Don and Stefani aren’t currently on speaking terms with Don’s son, but last year had a child of their own – one-year-old Lachlan. They also married last year and say they have never been happier.
“A lot of people don’t understand that age gap relationships can be genuine,” said Stefani. “Everybody seems to assume there’s got a be something else going on.
“They say ‘how could she possibly love him?’ You love somebody because you love them.”
The two met four years ago when Stefani started working in Don’s favourite pub, and they established an instant connection.
After staying late one night to watch a band play with Don, Stefani went home with her new suitor and the pair haven’t looked back since.
They talk openly about how they both consider their intimate lives to be the best thing about the relationship – especially in the early days.
Don said: “Definitely the sex has been a great part of it from my perspective. I have always had a younger state of mind I have never ever felt my age.
“I always want to go out and have fun with the younger crowds and then hooking up with somebody young, you get the fresh perspective.”
“It changes when you have a child but we used to have sex literally all the time.”
Stefani added: “2am, 5am, middle of the afternoon, before dinner, after dinner, in the middle of dinner, on the rooftop, on the balcony, on the floor, wherever.
“I have been with guys a little younger than me and my age and Don is obviously the oldest and he knows what he is doing. I like that it doesn’t last two seconds – he knows what he’s doing.”
And while the couple remember their early days together fondly, they also recall some of the challenges they faced due to such a large age gap.
Stefani said: “When we first started dating, Don felt a bit weird about it because sometimes when I would hold his hand or kiss him he was a little standoffish or stiff. But I don’t care, he is my boyfriend, he is my husband.
“I told my brother after a month or so after we started dating and he didn’t take it all that great, and then he told my mum.
“During the beginning, both my parents would pop up around town wherever we were.”
But Stefani’s family soon came around, and now her mum helps by taking care of Lachlan and supporting her daughter’s new family.
The couple still come across a lot of judgement from others when out in public, but have learned to not let it bother them.
“Some people are really mean,” said Stefani. “People insult me more than they insult Don because I am the gold digger, I am the one with daddy issues, I am the one who can’t support myself, I need a man to save me.
“Everyone thinks I’m a gold digger. Where is the gold? Give me the gold, babe.”
Stefani is also often mistaken for being Don’s daughter but she doesn’t shy away from letting people know that they’re wrong.
“It doesn’t upset me or make me angry, I just correct them. When it’s very obvious we are a couple or we are together in a romantic way and if you still choose to say obnoxious things, that’s when it bothers me.
“But other than correcting them what do you do?”
For now, the couple are focused on raising their son and say they are not concerned about Lachlan’s future and the uncertainty surrounding how long Don will be around.
Don said: “At my age I’m not worried about being around later. Obviously I would like to, but mother nature plays a role so I am just going to take it as far as I can, be there for him as long as I can, and teach him as much as I can before I get to that point.
“After that I guess he can push me around in my wheelchair.”
Stefani added: “Don and Lachlan have an amazing relationship and watching him be a father is so beautiful. I take a lot of pictures and Lachlan is going to know, whether he’ five, 10, 15, or in his twenties that his dad loved him and would be proud of him and that they had all these special moments together growing up.”