There are no surprises in their marriage, declares Prakash Ganapathy, not only because he and his wife, Shanmugha Selvi Rajagopal know each other so well but also because they spend almost every hour of the day with each other: they run a bridal and retail business in Petaling Jaya together. Valentine’s Day dinners or getaways are always planned together, as are their birthday and anniversary celebrations.
“We are together almost always. There is no time to plan any surprise as the other person will inevitably get wind of any so-called surprise. It wouldn’t work, ” says Prakash, 47.
“Oh, wait. She does surprise me... with her cooking. She can never cook a dish the same way twice. Her fried rice tastes different every time she makes it so I am always surprised, ” he says, laughing as he pokes fun of his wife of seven years. “But, I’ll eat whatever she cooks, good or bad, anyway.”
This playfulness and their ability to laugh at themselves and each other without taking offense is the secret to their happy marriage, says Shanmugha Selvi. Their shared love for adventure is a bonus.
“We love trying new things together and are both spontaneous. Life would be so boring otherwise, ” she says.
Even though the lovebirds haven’t been married for that long – they tied the knot in 2012 – Prakash and his wife know what it’s like to be in an unhappy marriage: they were both married before.
“I was married for 10 years and throughout that time, I felt stifled... I couldn’t be myself. My first husband was a nice person but we just did not work as a couple.
“That’s why it feels so wonderful that I can be myself with Prakash. He not only encouraged my dream, he quit his job and became my business partner.
“At work, we are very ambitious and pretty serious. In fact, most of our disagreements have to do with work. But at home, when I unwind, I am very playful and silly. I am not always this serious, you know, ” says Shanmugha Selvi, flashing a broad smile.
Prakash nods in full agreement.
“She is the funniest and zaniest person I know. She makes me laugh all the time.
“What you see now, all composed and serious, is not how she is at home, ” he says.
Their friendship, the couple claim, forms the bedrock of their marriage.
“We were friends first for many years and I think that is very significant. During that time, we learnt about each other, discovered our similarities and shared our dreams before we realised that we were in love.
“When we got married, our relationship as friends just got richer. It didn’t change.
“We continue to do things together and share adventures. And we have no expectations or demands of each other, ” says Prakash. “It is really quite special to be married to your best friend.”
What do they love about each other?
“I think my love for him was cemented when I saw him with my daughters, ” says Shamnmugha Selvi who has two daughters, aged 22 and 19 now.
“My second daughter used to train in tennis and every day, he’d pick her up from school, get her lunch and take her halfway across town for her training without a peep. Any dad would do that for their kid but not all stepdads would step up to the plate as he has. And he never makes a big deal about it, ” she says.
Although the couple have got big dreams when it comes to their business, on the marriage front their goals are simple.
“We want to grow old together. And we want to go through our lives having all sorts of adventures together, ” he says.