Singer and actor Katharine McPhee admittedly was skittish about public perception when she started dating husband David Foster, who is 35 years older than her.
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"We all have the ability to label things and to look at something for the way that it looks or face value and make a judgment," the former "Smash" star said. "So I totally get the judgment initially, but things are never as they appear, things are never exactly as they appear and I'm in love with our love story and that's all that matters."
McPhee first met the 16-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and music producer on season five of "American Idol" in 2006, when she was the runner-up in the talent competition. He then produced her first single following her stint on the show.
"For people who know who David Foster is, and they know me, I'm not trying to skirt around the obvious, we have a huge age difference," she said. "I was very, very young. I just loved being in the studio with him, I loved getting to know him, I felt a huge honor to work with him as it was. ... He had such a way in the studio with people."
The two were just friends at first. Foster even attended her 2008 wedding to her first husband, Nick Cokas, and had a friendship with him.
"It was always just this professional relationship, but I think looking back, I know he was definitely enamored with me," she said. "Looking back, I was always taken with him."
However, she was reluctant to get involved with him romantically at first.
"It took me awhile to kind of come around to really want to have a real serious relationship because I was very concerned with what people would think, and also I just wasn't there yet either, too," she said.
"I had been single for the last year so I was still in kind of that world, and I've known him for so long, and I knew he really liked me. It took me awhile."
Their relationship became public when it was still in an early stage.
"Even though the press kind of like saw us at a dinner one night, and they wrote about David and Katharine at a romantic dinner, and I was so freaked out because I was like, 'Oh, my God, we're not even together yet, we're just figuring this out,'" she said. "And it was already we're dating, and we are getting married. But I guess the press knew more than I did because we ended up getting married, and now we're having a baby."
The couple tied the knot in 2019 when she was 35, and he was a few months shy of his 70th birthday. It was the second marriage for McPhee and the fifth for Foster.
"The perception of what people try to create, especially with women, it's always the woman's fault," McPhee said. "It's the woman who wants to be with the older man because he has money and he's had success and she wants this, that. I mean, our story's been the complete opposite."
They are now the proud parents of a baby boy after a pregnancy in which McPhee said her biggest concern was a relapse of a previous eating disorder. The boy is the first for Foster, who has five daughters from previous marriages.
"There was never one day that I ever doubted my decision to be with him," McPhee said. "Even if we had an argument or whatever, I'm so crazy in love with him and so grateful. ... I loved being around him before we were even married."