Viktor and Pariya’s first argument as newlyweds was sparked by the clothes washing.
Pariya, 35, would spend hours every day on the washing and felt increasing resentment when Viktor, 39, would wave her away and say “don’t worry about it.”
“If I didn't it during the week I would spend all my Saturday doing six loads of washing. I was like 'you're not appreciating how much time I'm putting into this one thing and instead you're telling me don't do it today, do it later?'"
The next hurdle was decorating their empty apartment. Viktor felt it was Pariya’s domain but Pariya felt overwhelmed by the responsibility and frustrated at being critiqued on how much she bought highly budgeted items for.
“When I was trying nest the house, we had a bare room, in my mind I thought, my husband is going to help me, and the opposite happens. For me that was hard to hear. You are part of this relationship how can you say it is not your responsibility?”
For Pariya, who had never lived out of home before, the adjustment was overwhelming and she admits there were times she thought she’d made a mistake.
“No one sat me down and said: ‘you're going to argue about this. You’re not going to get along for the first few months’,’’ she says.
“I came in not knowing what is going to happen at all. That there would be days I would regret getting married and want a divorce and go back to my Mummy literally.”
The couple, whose wedding is featured on the upcoming season Marry Me Marry My Family, said despite a fairytale enagement, the real test of their love came after the wedding, navigating communication, cleaning and finances as a newlywed couple.
The 2019 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey found that women did more housework as their male partners. This housework hours logged remained higher whether the couple had kids or the woman was the primary earner in the relationship.
Pariya and Viktor who come from traditional Iranian and Macedonian backgrounds, were adamant about having an equal partnership. And in many ways it was. Viktor was the cook and would make traditional Iranian food for the couple and for guests, to the protestations of Pariya’s Iranian family who thought it was a ‘woman’s job’ to cook, and Pariya would do most of the cleaning.
“I myself always encouraged Peach [Viktor’s nickname for Pariya] to be a freethinker and independent and I would never want rely on her to do my washing or ironing. I wanted her to contribute in a way that it's a meaningful relationship rather than master/slave whatever. I didn't want to be with someone where they have to serve me.”
But in the first months of marriage the couple found gendered assumptions quickly creeping in.
“The intent was always about equality, whereas in practice if we always conveyed that, I sometimes didn’t do that so well,” Viktor admitted.
For Pariya it was her first time living out of home and adjusting to life with a 24/7 partner: “Not living with a guy at all, ever and being on my own, I was able to have those rules and there wouldn't be anyone to make a mess or get angry at,” she said.
It was through learning to fight the couple were able to resolve their differences, and part of that involved letting the other person cool off after a dispute.
“You learn how to fight with each other. There's instances I'm about to explode so I need to be left alone, I run away but Vik follows. Our arguments would last four and five hours and go in circles because I needed to be left alone and Viktor wanted to resolve it,” Pariya says.
Viktor said part of his challenge was understanding how his language was interpreted by Pariya.
With the washing, he said: “My intention was to say “take a day off don't worry about it” whereas Peach felt like I was saying don't worry about doing it - doing it later as opposed to 'I'll do it later, let me help'. For her it was like saying what you're doing is not important and she felt invalidated by that, she didn't feel supported.”
Viktor says one year on from marriage their relationship is “very solid and strong”, and part of that is learning to listen and admit faults, and recognise the frailty of the other person and their trigger points.
"(In the beginning it is like) you’re my soulmate. But I am a human and I make mistakes and I am not perfect and have my own issues to deal with."
“I am the first to say sorry, to approach, to olive branch. That's important because I'm mostly wrong. We both have that capacity to recognise we're wrong. We came into this marriage thinking our relationship is solid, but even with the solid base the foundation were shaking -but now we can deal with wind, hail, everything.”
Marry Me Marry My Family explores cross-cultural weddings in Australia. Watch or stream new episodes weekly Tuesdays 7, 14 and 21 of January, 8:30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.