From the moment we got engaged and set a wedding date, we began to think about the reasons we chose one another. What was so special about this relationship that we decided to spend our lives together? Would our love be the same if we were born in another time or at another place? What is love exactly?
Driven by those questions, we decided to embark on a one year journey around the world to research whether love, one of the highest values in our lives, is universal, or it is completely conditioned by the circumstances around us. In the past 10 months, we traveled to 24 countries over five continents and collected more than 100 interviews with different couples and individuals, all of them sharing their thoughts on love, relationships, marriage, divorce...
Deep in the Indian Himalayas we talked with couples in polyandric marriages (where women has more husbands); we interviewed couples in the same-sex relationships in Iran, country where homosexuality is illegal; in Amazonas, Matis people explained how polygamy was the best way to preserve their culture after western disease killed roughly a third of their population; in Kenya, Samburu women explained how they decided to create a 'Women-only' village after being in violent relationships.
We found extraordinary stories all over the world, each specific and special in its own way. All of those stories will be part of a documentary film we are making, called 'Love Around The World'. In this film, we want to portray humanity through one of its greatest values - love.
We will be traveling around the USA and Europe in the next few months, so please reach out if you want to share your story with us.
"What is love? After what I experienced with my husband, I cannot love anyone anymore. My heart was taught to hate men." Jane told us. She was chased away in the middle of the night by her husband, after being sexually abused by another man. Jane is one of the founders of 'Umoja' - a women-only village in Kenya. The village is a refuge for women fleeing abusive husbands and arranged marriages.
Anil And Madhu (India)
'You fall in love with a person, not the physical appearance,' Anil told us. He was already engaged to Madhu when the man from her neighborhood poured acid on her face because she refused to marry him. When Anil’s family found out about the attack, they were trying to discourage him from marrying her, but he was decisive. 'What if the attack happened when we were already married? What if it was some kind of accident, not the acid attack? I wouldn’t divorce her. Why this should be different?' There are 250 to 300 acid attacks reported in India every year. The majority of acid attack victims are women, mostly because they rejected a relationship or marriage proposal.
Jorge And Maria (Colombia)
When we asked him how does it feel to spend more than a decade with a wife who does not recognize you, Jorge responded: 'It's a feeling of great pain. I'm terribly sorry that illness attacked her when she was about to start enjoying her golden years. But the very fact that I can be next to her, in her company, makes me absolutely and deeply happy. Her condition is not an obstacle for me to love her intensively.'
Marco And Adela (Chile)
'We started our romantic relationship after being friends for a year. I was 47, she was 51 and we both were divorced for some time. Only one week later she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told me she wants to deal with it alone. I said that there is no chance in the world I will let her go now that I had found her, that we will fight together. So we did. And we won.'
Mariko And Hiroyuki (Japan)
Hiroyuki was a member of an organized crime group Yakuza when he met Mariko. In the first years of their relationship, he was abusive, drinking a lot, gambling. He even left her with their newborn baby. Soon he realized what he had and came home begging her for forgiveness. He promised he will change if she lets him in, so she did. Today he is a respected evangelical pastor and they live in a happy marriage.
!ui And !ao (Namibia)
According to the old bushman tradition, when a young man sees the woman he wants to marry, he shoots her with a 'love bow' (small arrow which can't hurt her). If the girl likes him back, she will pick up the arrow and place it on her heart. If not, she will break it in half or just leave it on the floor. Luckily for !ui, !ao liked him back, so they got married.
Teah And George (New Zealand)
When we asked them what love is, Teah said 'Aroha'. We never heard this Māori word, so we asked her to explain. 'In literal translation, it means 'to love' but it means so much more than that. It is affection, sympathy, charity, compassion, love and empathy, all in one word.'
Bubukairy And Marat (Kyrgyzstan)
"We were together for two years when she called me and said her family found her a suitable husband, and they want her to marry him. I had to act fast, so I told her to calm down, that I will take care of everything. I called my mother and told her I had a surprise for her. 'Is it the fridge you promised me?' she asked. 'No mom, something even better, I am getting married today'. I organized everything and in no time I was in front of her work with my friends, explaining to her boss that I am kidnapping her. He understood the emergency and let her go. I took her to my home, where everything was already prepared and that day she became my wife."
Matthew And Naomi (Zambia)
'He asked me to marry him the very first time we met. I was afraid that he was not being honest. There are harmful beliefs and misconceptions about people with albinism. - What if he is one of them - I wondered. Even my family didn't trust him at the beginning. Why would anyone wanted to marry an albino just out of love?" Naomi explained how she felt eight years ago when she first met Mathew. In addition to their everyday struggle, individuals with albinism in Africa are also plagued by bounty hunters. In some extreme cases, superstitions and traditional beliefs about albinism can lead to violent assault and murder. In witchcraft-related rituals, certain body parts of people with albinism are made into charms that are believed to bring wealth and good luck. At the same time, people with albinism have also been ostracised and even killed for exactly the opposite reason, because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck.
Marcelo And Jose (Chile & Brasil)
Marcelo and Jose met online. They started chatting and soon they fell in love. Their distance became a big obstacle so Jose decided to leave everything and he moved to Chile so they can be together.
Pooja And Krishna (India)
When Krishna and Pooja ran away from their homes to be together, they had to live on the street and every day was a struggle for survival. Finally, Krishna got the chance to work night shifts in the factory for 1$/day and they slowly started to live a decent life. Krishna belongs to Brahmin caste, the highest one in India and Pooja is a Dalit - a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcasts. Therefore their relationship was not acceptable in most of Indian households. It wasn't until they had their first child that families accepted their marriage.
André And Aline (Brasil)
They spent the first months of our relationship living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. They were homeless. They starved together, people put fire on their stuff, threw water and beer on them. However, they stayed together, believing that one day it will better. And now it is. 'If she stayed with me on the streets, she will stay with me for the rest of our lives.' - Andre told us.
Salma And Tivo (Zambia)
They knew each other through a common friend, but just when Tivo moved to the States, they started chatting online. Very soon their friendship evolved to a relationship. 'We became more intimately involved but without the physical aspect of it, because I was on a different continent. During that time we discovered how much we love each other through the way we communicated and I just decided to ask her to marry me, over the phone.'
We are Andela & Davor Rostuhar from Zagreb, Croatia. Davor a well-known Croatian writer and photographer, with 7 published books and numerous published stories in some of the most prestigious magazines such as National Geographic, Geo, etc. He traveled to more than 110 countries, did more than 20 expeditions to the remotest parts of our Planet, among all he became the 26th person in history to walk solo, unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole. We were working together and in just a few months we fell in love and started a relationship. Davor proposed at the end of 2017, just before he started his 47 days expedition to the South Pole. We got married in September 2018. Our honeymoon journey around the world started in Paris, in January 2019.
Jittendra, Rattna And Sadnam (India)
Polyandry - a form of polygamy in which a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time is present in only a few cultures around the world. Remote Kinnaur valley in Indian Himalayas is one of them. We had a rare opportunity to interview families where fraternal polyandry (when two or more brothers are married to the same wife) is practiced. 'Many think that there is more love in ’one on one’ marriage, but that is not true. Love is not different in polyandry marriage. "I love both of my husbands the same" - Rattna told us.
Deborah And Alexander (Brasil)
Deborah was 14 when she met Alexander and invited him to her friend's party. It was supposed to be their first date, magical and shinny how only the first dates can be. But it was nothing like it. That night they had a motorbike accident in which he lost his leg and she ended up with a fracture. But this accident connected them in a way no one can understand, apart from them. As if it was destined to be like that in order to keep them together for the next 24 years, absorbing happiness as only those who looked death in the eyes can.
Amin And Manar (Saudi Arabia)
Amin and Manar have been married for 4 years. Being from different Saudi tribes, she had to cut the relationship with her father in order to get married to Amin. And she never regretted it.
Sharda And Naru (India)
If a man wants to marry a Kalbelia girl, he must first come to a woman's house where he spends about two years being tested for his skills and personality. Only if he meets the majority of the requirements of the women and her family, only then he is allowed to marry her. Traditionally, Kalbelia men carried cobras in cane baskets from door to door in villages while their women sang and danced and begged for alms. In the royal era of India, the kings of Rajasthan used to admire the people of the Kalbelia for their performing arts. Today, they are street performers on the move. The gipsy men are accomplished masters of folk music. They play while the women move inside the circle, just like the snake.
Davood And Zeinab (Iran)
Davood and Zeinab saw each other only two times before he asked her to marry him. She accepted because he had a great reputation, and she knew he comes from a nice family. They have been married five years now, and not a day passes without him telling her how much he loved her. 'If I had 100 lives, in each one I would choose him all over again' Zeinab told us.
Kana, Iva And Tuma (Amazonas, Brasil)
Iva was around 20 years old when the Matis tribe was contacted for the first time in 1974. Soon after the first contact, the whole tribe was relocated to a new village where they started to suffer from different diseases they were not resistant to. By 1983. their number decreased from 1200 to less than 100, and Iva was one of the few people that survived. He first married Tuma and later Kana. As there were more men than women left, polygamy was a strategy for the survival of the tribe.
Teodora And Augustin (Bolivia)
Augustin was a mountain guide and Teodora worked in a base camp near La Paz as a cook. Together with her colleagues, she was wondering why are all these people so happy when they come back from the hike. One day they decided to hike up and see what was it about. And they fell in love with it. Today, she is a member of The Bolivian Cholitas Escaladoras - a group of female Aymara climbers. In 2015, eleven of them successfully climbed the Huayna Potosi (6.088 m) near La Paz. The group now has 16 members and has summited most of the mountains in Bolivia and Chile, including Aconcagua (6,960 m), the highest peak of South America. In the near future, they plan to climb Mt. Everest.
Tracy And Natsumi (American-Japanese Couple)
They met while Natsumi was studying in the USA. Their relationship finished when she returned back home to Japan. A few years later she had some tough time and decided to write him a friendly email. He responded and the old spark was back in the air again. As the relationship progressed, they decided to get married and start their life in Tokyo. 'In the beginning, it seemed like we are worlds apart. He was American, I was Japanese. Our cultures were different. We were so much different. But with time, I realized we are actually the same. He is my reflection, I am his. It took us time to realize it, but now we know - we are both weird in the same way. And that's ok. As long as we respect each other, we will always find a way to cope with our differences.' - Natsumi told us.
Fahad And Tamadur (Saudia Arabia)
Fahad and Tamadur have been in an arranged marriage for 33 years. It was not easy for them in the beginning because they were basically two strangers, starting their life together. But love grew with the time and now they can't imagine having a better partner. In arranged marriages first comes respect and then love, they explained.
Shores of Lugo Lake (stretched between Yunnan and Sichuan province in Chine) are home to a small ethnic group the Mosuo. Their complex social structure is said to be one of the last semi-matriarchal societies in the world. Women like Aqidu have been the heads of their Mosuo households for generations, responsible for passing down property and family name. One of the most intriguing parts of their culture (and often misinterpreted as promiscuous) is “walking marriage" - a tradition that dictates that the Mosuo women’s partners only visit them at night, and these partners have very little to do with their children’s upbringing. Traditionally, Mosuo children stayed with their mother’s families for life and the woman was head of the household. Her brother, child's uncle, had a more important role in their life than the father. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But times have changed now. Life around Lugu Lake has become more and more expensive and children's education more and more important, so it has become almost impossible for women to raise children on her own. Younger Mosuo women are moving to larger cities and marrying outside of their tribe so this tradition is slowly fading away.
Alejandro And Rocio (Costa Rica)
They were born in the same hospital, just a few days apart. Their parents knew each other, so they 'introduced' them the moment they were born. It wasn't until high school that they started dating but it didn't work out. It took them almost ten years and 2 more breakups to finally realize they were meant to be together.
Fabrice And Eva (French-Palestinian Couple)
They met at a Burning Man festival in the USA. Just before that, a tarot card reader told Fabrice that he will soon meet the love of his life. He was dancing with his eyes closed and all of a sudden, he was near this woman he felt strongly connected to. They danced together for hours and he realized - she is the one.
Bruna And Yago (Brasil)
Bruna and Yago were together for two and a half years and then they broke up. We talked to them a few months after the breakup. They still lived together, as roommates, but the relationship was definitely over. She was attracted by his calmness and he loved how she was Highly passionate about everything. In the end, those characteristics separated them, they were just too different to live harmoniously.
Luiz Felipe And Giovana (Brasil)
'He will propose at the age of 23. We will marry, have one male child and two dogs. We already have names for them. I will be a plastic surgeon and he will become a professional Muy Thai fighter. We will travel the world together and live happily ever after' Giovana told us when we asked her and Luiz Felipe how they see their future together. They are both 15 and experiencing love for the first time.
Jean And Camille (Belgium)
They met in high school. Jean was a friend of Camille's older brother. He chased her for a couple of months until she finally gave in. In the beginning, they were hiding from her brother, but eventually, they told him the truth and he accepted it. They have been together ever since. A few years ago they started an Instagram account @backpackdiariez and today almost 300.000 people follow their adventures.
Nandungo, Noosiamon, Muterian, Normejoole And Norkisaruni (Kenya)
The Maasai are traditionally polygamous. The number of a man's children and the size of his herd determine his status and importance. Muterian has 6 wives altogether (two were out with the cattle when we took this photo) and they all get along very well.