LOVED AND MARRIED TOO : Rooted in friendship

It is not often these days that a college romance fructifies into a wedlock. Corporate Citizen unlocks the story of love that has culminated into marriage, for we believe in the stability of a relationship and family unit. We bring to you real-life romances that got sealed in marriage

Married for a little over six months, Khushboo Gupta and Kunal Shah, are nevertheless, old friends. Sure, getting hitched is different to the courtship days, but an old and comfortable bond developed over eight years stands them in good stead

Married life is a fresh new chapter in their story. But their journey together started way before— eight years ago in college to be precise. Even so, Khushboo aka ‘Khushi’ Gupta and Kunal Shah are enjoying this milestone, just as much as they have, each phase before this.

Pursuing their MBA (marketing) from BIMHRD, it was but a matter of time that the duo would bump into each other. His first, vivid memory of her: clear, blue eyes. No one else had them. “That really set her apart. I didn’t know who she was. But the memory lingered,” grins Kunal.

They both happened to be in the same dual, which naturally meant they would see each other more often. “I think we really became good friends when both of us started working on the placement assistance cell of the college,” reminisces Kunal.

Like the old adage goes, opposites attract. She’s vivacious, talkative and outspoken. He’s patient, cautious and reserved. She’s the life of the party, he takes time to open up. In short: they are the perfect foil to each other.

As time went on they realised they couldn’t do without each other. “The proposal, as it were, happened in the classroom,” he says. “I asked her on a piece of paper if she’d like to be with me, and she said yes.”

An unusual place to propose, alright, but an apt metaphor for the career-life balance they would have to carefully figure out, if they wanted to stay together. “At our campus placements itself, we were given different cities. She would be posted to Delhi; me in Lonavla. This pattern continued for the next few years, until things finally fell in place.”

“As I settled down on the work front, my folks started to look out for suitable marital alliances. They had no idea about Khushboo’s presence, and I kept dallying for more time citing some excuse or the other,” shares Kunal.

He did tell them—in his own good time. “By now, they were so worried about whether or not I was ever going to marry that they were actually relieved when they heard about Khushboo,” he laughs. So much so, that the cultural differences didn’t bother them. (He’s half Maharashtrian and half-Gujju, brought up in Mumbai) while she’s a Baniya from Bhopal.

For their part, Khushboo’s mom and sisters were all for Kunal, though her dad was a tad protective and cautious initially. “I don’t blame him. I guess all fathers are that way with their daughters,” he says.

“But as things stand today, my parents and Kunal share a lovely bond. He is so understanding of my need to take care of them and is hugely supportive of everything,” shares Khushboo. “A lot of women don’t feel as connected to their parents after marriage, as they were before, but no such thing has happened in my case. And I really appreciate it very much.”

The duo enjoyed a relaxed, informal wedding on a beach in Goa with just close family and friends in attendance. “We wanted to have fun, not a formal, tension-frought affair,” says Kunal. “And that’s exactly what we did. The families got a chance to really know each other, and everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly,” he says.

Currently based in Mumbai, the young pair (both 29) are the epitome of the busy corporate couple—but make it a point to give their relationship sufficient time. While Khushi is brand manager with Sterlite Tech, Kunal heads the sales team at Mahindra Life spaces.

It sure is a busy time, getting used to living together—and managing the rough and tumble of their careers. So how do they do it?

“I think everything works out, if you have a spouse who is sympathetic and understanding of your professional demands. And Kunal is hugely supportive of my dreams,” she says.

“She’s focused, driven and qualified, and I don’t see any reason why she should not give her career the time and attention it deserves—be it travelling to different cities or keeping those long hours,” he says.

At the same time, both do short trips away from Mumbai each chance they get, apart from making it a point to discuss their day.

It helps that Kunal is house-savvy and willing to share the chores. “Honestly, I cook as well as her, having lived away from home for a pretty long time, while she’s been largely with her parents. As a result, I am well-versed with mundane chores like vegetable shopping and laundry,” he smiles.

But given the differences in their cultural backgrounds, what about teething trouble? “Truth be told, I have not felt it so far,” says Khushboo. “There are no compulsions of diet or rituals; it has been largely smooth sailing. I guess—what really works in our favour is that ours is a relationship rooted in friendship. We are very comfortable together, having dated for so long. Yes, living together as a family is a completely different ballgame from dating but it helps that we know each other as people.”

What, according to them, are the mantras of a marriage?

The pillars of a home
  • Keep a healthy work-life balance
  • Support your spouse’s dreams and give them due space
  • Take the effort to know each other’s families
  • Step down a bit; care communicates itself in the little things you do for each other

There are no compulsions of diet or rituals; it has been largely smooth sailing. I guess—what really works in our favour is that ours is a relationship rooted in friendship. We are very comfortable together, having dated for so long. Yes, living together as a family is a completely different ballgame from dating but it helps that we know each other as people — Khushboo

“Understanding and support,” says Khushboo— while Kunal would cite commitment and patience. “You take effort to build a career. The same holds true for a marriage. Communicate clearly and regularly, respect and care for each other’s family—it will all go a long way in cementing your relationship,” he says. “In our case, ours was a long-distance relationship, yet we made it a point to talk to each other and share little nuggets of day-to-day happenings.”

A mutual respect for each one’s individuality and finer qualities is key to everything. “I like that she is ambitious, career-driven and fun-loving. If she says she will do it, she most certainly will,” says Kunal. While Khushboo says she admires him for his patience, maturity— and knowledge. “He can converse on any subject—he’s very well-informed about all that’s happening around us,” she says.

As of now, it’s career time for both of them, all the way. But when the time comes to start a family, Kunal says he will go along with her requirements in every way. “We have not given it a thought as of now, but whatever decision is taken, will take into consideration her comfort zone and dreams too,” he rounds off.

By Kalyani Sardesai