‘Log kya kehenge?’ the three words that can stop any Indian’s heart quicker than a triple cheeseburger with extra bacon. Nine times out of ten it’s not because they’re actually worried about what people are saying, they’re worried because it means their parents are midway through cooking up a new scheme to find them a spouse. We’ve grown up in an environment that advocates early marriage, because if by twenty-five you’re not happily settled with a baby on the way the world will stop turning right? Though this is still the case for many families across the country, there’s a quiet rebellion in play, one where independent individuals are doing the impossible and proving that finding happiness doesn’t mean playing by outdated rules. Two such revolutionaries are Ireena Alphonse and Joseph Thomas.
When they first met they were both in their 30’s and coming out of other relationships. Joseph’s father was the one who suggested that the two connect and see where it went. Though this may sound like the beginning of an arranged marriage, Joseph insists that it was nothing of the sort. “It was more like we were being set up by friends, there was no pressure or expectation,” As it happened, after they’d been dating for a while they realised that what started as a casual relationship had turned into something more.
For people who have struggled to get married this may seem like an impossibly easy situation but they attribute their drama-free engagement to maturity. Both of them were in a place where they realised that marriage was much more than being swept up in a whirlwind romance. They’d been in relationships before, seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly but come out the other side with a grasp of reality only experience can bring. They knew that after the initial attraction fades what you’re left with is a relationship that needs to be based on practicality as well as love and when they got engaged it was a decision made by the head and the heart.
Joseph believes that a lot of what is wrong with the Indian marriage culture can be put down to lack of communication. Parents feel like authoritarianism is the only way to control a child, and in return children are reluctant to trust their parents’ advice. Though their being together was ultimately down to his dad’s matchmaking abilities, their story is entirely shaped by romance. They lucked out being able to marry for love and they hope that this becomes a reality for more couples across the country.
When they tied the knot at The Courtyard House on August 4th, they wanted it to be a night to remember. They wanted it to be a party, not some uptight affair with polite conversation and strained smiles but a real celebration where their friends and family could have a drink and share in their happiness. As an PR professional, Joseph co-ordinated the event himself and wanted to build on the natural beauty of the venue to create the perfect setting. He was so caught up in the planning that it wasn’t until he was taking his vows that he realised that this wasn’t just an event he was planning, this was his wedding. He thought to himself, ‘My life’s about to change and I don’t care about the details’ and he describes that as the moment his world went from black and white to colour.
Their fairytale ending is what so many people hope for but they believe that it never would have happened if they’d been married early. Over the years they’ve learned that a marriage is two people being together is about increasing your life together and not being divided by petty differences. That a relationship is about what you can find to give not what you want to take away and that no matter what people think or do as long as you think it works, then who cares what they’re saying!