By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
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Videographer / director: Jiri Bakala
Producer: Nathalie Bonney
Editor: Alex Lubetkin
It’s not uncommon for people to mistake 25-year-old Stefani’s husband for her father. Don is 70 years old, the same age in fact as Stefani’s late father. But the unlikely couple, from Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada, have been together for five years, married for a year and a half and share two-year-old-son Lachlan.
Don told Barcroft TV: "People on the street, they do that second take or third take or whatever it is or make a comment if I have Lachlan out for a walk or something and someone says, ‘oh, grandpa's got the little boy today’, I don't even correct them.”
While they have the full support of family now, Stefani admits her family were concerned about her settling down with someone so much older – aside from the judgement they receive when out in public. How long would Don be around for his family?
But the Walpers won’t let fears for the future or judgement from the public, hold them back.
Stefani said: “We choose, I guess not to hide our relationship because why would you hide yours? Would anybody hide their relationship?”
The couple met at the bar Stef works at. Don came in to drink with his friends and for Stef it was love at first sight.
She said: "I loved him like the second I saw his face. It was super weird because everyone was like, ‘oh my God, this guy's like, at least 30 years older’.
“I just thought he was so handsome and he was charming and super flirty. And, I don't know, it just made me happy every time he came in.”
One Friday night a band was playing and Don suggested the two of them got drinks together afterwards. The pair ended up staying at the bar late dancing and playing pool, before going back to Stef’s.
With the relationship progressing, Stefani, who was just 20 at the time, had to deal with most of her family being unhappy about the match.
She said: “My mom was not a fan at all, my dad was not a fan, my brother was absolutely not a fan as well. So nobody was really on Don's team.
“I had just turned 20, like just. So I think for my side of the family, they were a little bit like, ‘whoa, what are you doing?' They thought I was making a mistake, I got myself into a situation.”
Mother Janet admits her early reservations. She said: “The first time when Stephanie came forward and told me that she was dating a man who actually was the same age as her father. It was a little shocking I was not happy at first.
“I figured that she was losing out on meeting somebody her own age by dating, somebody Don's age.”
By the time Don and Stefani got married, her family were fully behind the couple but that hasn’t stopped the online haters or strangers’ looks when out in public.
Stefani said: “People always told me: ‘I'll pray for you, like you're in a really scary situation, he's gas lighting you, he's grooming you, you need to talk to somebody and get help and get out; like you're in a really toxic relationship.’
“And I was like, all right, so here's a guy who puts gas in my car when he's got it, puts gas in our car, he brings me home flowers, he puts cute little sticky notes on my mirror, he rubs my feet or my back every night after work.”
Don says the couple don’t need to worry about anything other than each other and their son added: “I don't think we have to prove it, we just show them by living your life the best you can and raise our son the best we can.”