According to Hollywood screenwriters, first comes love and then comes marriage. But the reasons humans get hitched are as varied as the day is long. Surveys by Relationships Australia show being “in love” is the most popular reason given for walking down the aisle, but many others choose to get married to provide security for children, for financial reasons, or because of religious or cultural beliefs.
Research shows there are benefits to tying the knot besides living “happily ever after”. An Ohio State University study found those who marry and stay married have, on average, almost double the wealth of those who never marry, while another study found that married people were 14 per cent less likely to die after a heart attack.
“There is a sense of security that comes with an arranged marriage!”
Parul Mehta, 53, the founder of Indian Matrimonial, and Niket Mehta, 55, who works in finance, grew to love each other after their arranged marriage. They have been married for 30 years.
“When I was growing up in Bombay, I shared all the fantasies of other girls my age. My dreams played out like Bollywood movies, with romantic notions of love, but of course the reality of my situation was very different to what I saw on the screen. My parents, aunts and uncles all had arranged marriages and I knew that eventually, when I came of age, I’d have an arranged marriage, too. I didn’t mind at all; there’s a real sense of security that comes from having your loved ones put their time and energy into finding you the perfect match. I trusted them completely.
My parents are quite broad-minded, so a love marriage wouldn’t have been out of the question. But since I hadn’t short-listed anyone for myself, I was happy for them to get the ball rolling. My parents let the broader community know that we were looking and a family friend got in touch to say they knew the perfect person for me.
Marriage in Indian culture isn’t between two parties; it’s a communal effort, with many people invested in seeing a successful outcome.
My first meeting with Niket was brief. We went to his house so our families could meet and we could see if we liked each other. You have the freedom to say yes or no, but I just had a feeling our union would work. Not only was he supportive of what I wanted to do with my life (I was a fashion designer and wanted to continue with my career), his mother was the same.
Back then, it wasn’t common in our culture for a daughter-in-law to work full-time after marriage so the fact that she was happy for me to continue meant a lot to me. I said yes and we married within three months.
I found the transition to married life easy. For a start, I not only had my parents’ tick of approval but complete acceptance from my in-laws, which makes a difference. We lived with my husband’s parents, grandparents and his elder brother and his family so I had tremendous support as I navigated my way into motherhood. We’ve now been married for 29 years and, although we’ve had our share of ups and downs, we really are perfect for each other.
After we moved to Australia I realised the children of migrants were finding dating tough, trying to walk the line between traditional values at home and Australian values outside the home. I began assisting friends with marriage matches for their children and word spread.
I registered my business, Indian Matrimonial, in 2020 and I’ve been helping young Indian Australians ever since. That said, I always say to prospective clients, ‘Let my business be your last destination, not your first.’ I still believe in love.”
“I wanted to honour the fight we had to get here”
Maria Granjo, 36, a project manager, and Kristin Cameron, 33, a physiotherapist, married in March 2022, four years after meeting on a dating app.
“My marriage to Kristin was probably a shock to those who’ve known me for a long time; it was certainly a surprise to my mother. Growing up in Portugal, I was always talking about how marriage was a ridiculous, outdated notion I wanted no part of.
I don’t know why I felt that way but it just wasn’t a goal of mine. Then I met Kristin on Bumble and everything changed; I wanted – and want – to be by Kristin’s side as her wife for the rest of my days. Love’s funny like that.
The way our proposal occurred says a lot about how we operate as a couple. At the end of 2019, I had a ring designed with a local jeweller we both love and I was searching for the perfect scenario to propose. While I was working it out, Kristin insisted on taking a walk and picnic one afternoon and, during the picnic, she pulled out a jewellery box from the same jeweller and gave it to me.
I was confused, thinking she had stumbled on the ring I’d hidden. But no, she’d commissioned an engagement ring from the same jeweller. Basically, we ended up proposing to each other in a flurry of excitement and emotion.
At first we planned on eloping but as we started thinking about what marriage meant to us as a same-sex couple, we considered how amazing it would be to celebrate our special day with loved ones. Had I been marrying a man, maybe I would have felt differently. But marriage was a basic right that was withheld from us for so long and that made us want it even more.
We wanted to honour the fight we’ve had to get where we are and so we locked in a date (that changed in line with COVID-19 restrictions) and began sending out invitations.
My sister flew out from Portugal to celebrate with us, while Kristin’s mother and sister came from New Zealand where she’s originally from and our extended family and friends joined over Zoom. Exemption red tape was a saga right through to the very end but it was all worth it.
Our celebrant, Zoe [Sabados], had done many same-sex weddings before and not only got the weight of the occasion, she got us. It was a day of love, laughter and fun.
It’s still early days for us as a married couple but some things already feel different. We feel more secure about travelling outside of Australia to queer-safe destinations, or moving overseas and having our rights recognised as a married couple, and we can start planning for our future family.
Unfortunately, because we’re classed as “socially infertile” we can’t access the same IVF subsidies as heterosexual couples so it’s going to be an expensive, complicated battle, but we’ll get there.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the love I have for Kristin. She’s such a positive, supportive person and, as she said in her wedding vows, her weird matches my weird really well. How can you go wrong with that?”
“Growing old by yourself is not a lot of fun”
Retirees Dave and Linda Hutchinson, aged 76 and 75 respectively, married in 2008, eight years after they first met.
“The first time I married, I was young and in love. I was 17 when we met and I thought he was incredibly good-looking and charming. The first time he took me out he paid for a taxi so that I’d get home safely but he didn’t have enough money for his own so he caught the bus. It seemed like a good start, but charm wasn’t enough to keep the marriage on track and when we divorced, 24 years and two sons later, I found I’d lost all trust, all faith, in men.
I believed I’d had my shot at love and that I’d never again meet anyone special. There weren’t a lot of choices for a woman in her late 40s and I didn’t want to settle for just anyone.
When I met Dave at work I didn’t automatically think ‘potential partner’; it developed over time. He was pleasant, chatty, never boastful. And, to my surprise, we had a lot in common. Things felt very natural between us but because of the way my previous marriage ended it took me years to let down my guard and put trust in him.
When Dave asked me to marry him, I didn’t say yes right away. When you’re older, I think you take a little more time to consider whether that person – and what you’re hoping to build together – is right for you. There was love, yes, but practical considerations were also taken into account. Dave wanted me to be financially secure and that made sense, but we were also focused on the importance of companionship. Growing old by yourself is not a lot of fun.
Dave and I have been married for nearly 15 years. In that time we’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d get a chance to do.
Because there’s the two of us, we feel much more inclined to do things such as go on overseas holidays because we have each other for support. We go away on weekends and out for meals and even when we’re at home we love pottering around the garden together or going for walks in the neighbourhood.
My first husband never wanted to do things with me; so it’s lovely to have someone who’s supportive and attentive. Dave is good company and I’m never lonely. Marriage was the right choice for the both of us.”
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