A woman has revealed how strangers mistake her for her husband’s mother because of their 23-year age gap.
Sharon Osborne, 50, from Lincolnshire has even been branded a cougar by her friends while strangers often stare at the couple.
Despite receiving daily taunts, the A&E nurse says she is not ashamed of their relationship and insists her husband Mark, 27, a removals man, is the love of her life.
Mark, who has been nicknamed Ozzie due to being married to Sharon Osborne, was desperate to have children, but their age gap means it’s not possible.
Sharon said: ‘The only way age affects our relationship is that I can no longer have children, and Ozzie really wanted them.
‘But he has accepted it now and he said he’d rather one of me than a thousand of his own kids.
‘I’m looking forward to our future together regardless. He may be 23 years younger than me, but he’s my perfect man.’
Sharon said: ‘My husband is half my age, and I honestly don’t care what people think.
‘I get teased about being a cougar but, at the end of the day, I go home to a handsome young man. So the joke’s on everyone else.’
Sharon and Mark – who his friends call Ozzie in a nod to being married to Sharon Osborne – met on Christmas day in 2014 at her local pub through mutual friends.
The pair started chatting and Sharon couldn’t believe their instant connection.
She added: ‘It was the first Christmas I had ever had work off, and my friend dragged me down to the pub to celebrate.
‘My daughter was at her dad’s house, so I thought “why not?”.
‘I’d been single for a year and wasn’t looking to jump into a relationship.
‘When I met Ozzie, I could tell straight away that he was too young for me.
‘But throughout the day I discovered we were both huge boxing and cricket fans.
‘And when a song came on the jukebox, we started singing.
‘It was amazing how well we got on, but I knew nothing could ever happen.
‘I was divorced with a teenage daughter at home and Ozzie was in his early 20s.’
The pair became friends on Facebook, but Sharon warned him that things had to stay platonic.
However, Ozzie was crazy about her and texted her that evening, asking her out on a date to watch the football.
Although Sharon declined the date because of their age difference, Ozzie insisted their 23-year age gap should not be an issue for them, and the romantic meet up went ahead.
Sharon explained: ‘I told him that I was too old for him, and he replied saying age was just a number.
‘So, I relented. We went out for dinner the next night, and we hit it off again.
‘From that day, we became inseparable. But I still worried about our ages and what people would think.’
Afraid of people judging their age gap, Sharon and Ozzie decided to keep their relationship a secret, and over the next three months, they lied to their family and friends.
Sharon refrained from telling her daughter, Katy, 16, the truth, as she told her child she was seeing a friend when in fact she’d sneak out of the house to meet Ozzie.
Sharon continued: ‘Even though I was in my 40s, I felt like a young teenager sneaking around! It made everything seem so exciting.’
Sharon and Ozzie enjoyed romantic dinners in restaurants out of the area, both afraid of being spotted.
Finally, after four months of dating in April 2015, they came clean to their family and friends.
Sharon said: ‘Our friends thought it was great, they could tell how happy we both were.
‘I introduced Ozzie to Katy, and she really liked him.
‘I then met Ozzie’s parents, and they were surprisingly lovely to me. They were close to my age.
‘But we did receive some comments about how we’d never last and how I was old enough to be Ozzie’s mum.
‘It hurt at first but we just laughed it off. Friends at work started calling me a cougar.
‘It was annoying and ridiculous at first, but now I can appreciate the joke.’
Ozzie moved in with Sharon and Katy two months later in June 2015.
But strangers misunderstood the couple’s relationship.
She said: ‘We went to the bank to change Ozzie’s address.
‘The woman behind the counter asked Ozzie if he would like his mum to be his next of kin, while looking at me.
‘Ozzie was distraught, and told her that I was his partner, not mum. I felt upset but then I just decided not to care.’
Ozzie proposed to Sharon on Christmas day in 2015 in the pub they met with them tying the knot five months later.
Sharon says: ‘I was so in love with my new husband.
‘He stepped up as a stepfather to Katy, and really doted on her.
‘People in shops ask if I’m Ozzie’s mum all the time, especially when we’re food shopping.
‘It’s become a regular occurrence.
‘And when we hold hands on the streets, we get stared at.
‘I hate that we have to justify being together, we’re just two people in love and age shouldn’t matter.’