Our annual celebration of Valentine’s Day this year focuses on the love story of newlyweds Rarin Tumwattana, founder of popular ice cream parlor Guss Damn Good, and Dr Suriya Poolvoralaks, managing director of family-owned Major Development. Despite a 13-year age difference, the pair have a very similar educational footprint. Rarin is a Mater Dei alumna and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Chulalongkorn University before completing an MBA at Babson College in Boston. Suriya also attended a Catholic school, St Gabriel’s, before likewise studying economics at Chulalongkorn University. A doctorate degree in the same subject from the University of Southern California followed six years later.
As is often the case in life, timing is of the essence and although the couple initially met in 2010, it wasn’t until relatively recently that their love blossomed. “I was introduced to Rarin through a mutual friend who thought we might hit it off,” says Suriya. But both admit that when they first met, there was no instant crush or fireworks of passion. However, that’s not to say that they didn’t get along.
“We stayed in touch through the years,” Rarin says. “We would update each other on what was new in our lives every now and then.” But as Suriya explains, by the time he returned to Thailand and was about to join Major Development, Rarin was ready to leave to pursue her graduate studies in the United States. A career-driven man, and with the family business about to debut on the stock market, he saw it as a priority to focus on work.
So how did this amicable relationship end up in marriage? “About a year-and-a-half ago we met by chance at a wedding,” smiles Rarin. Both still single, it was Suriya who suggested they should get to know each other better and see if they were compatible. Hence, with the benefit of an already established familiarity, what began as a platonic friendship gradually grew into something more. A rational, even logical beginning perhaps, but the couple haven’t looked back since their first official date at 80/20 restaurant in 2017.
It was in November last year that the pair tied the knot, almost a year after Suriya popped the question. Following an engagement ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental, the wedding was held at Grand Hyatt Erawan and more than a thousand guests turned out to help the newlyweds celebrate. “My favourite part of the wedding was when we entered the ballroom with the spotlight on us and our closest friends, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were lined up like an honour guard to welcome us,” says Rarin.
Despite the age gap—she is 30 and he is 43—and the little time they have officially been together, they seem to have found a lifetime companion in one another and are endearingly relaxed and candid in the way they interact. “I am the most unromantic person ever,” admits Suriya with a laugh, while his bride gives a wry smile. Although she wouldn’t object to the occasional romantic gesture, she is more than happy with her man and points out that a great relationship isn’t always characterised by lovey dovey displays of affection. “I think our relationship reflects a much deeper understanding and respect for one another. We’re not given to over sentimentality.”
Just how to make a relationship work varies from couple to couple. For Rarin and Suriya respect is a defining aspect of their partnership. “I think the reason I respect her so much is because she is very mature in comparison to many people her age,” Suriya says. “Moreover, she is ambitious and independent.” As for Rarin, she is attracted to Suriya’s thoughtful personality and willingness to constantly care for his family and those around him. “I simply feel safe when I am with him,” she smiles.
Let’s face it though, even the most besotted of couples can admit to finding something particularly annoying about their other halves. “He has a tendency to mix his food together which I find rather irritating,” says Rarin, to which Suriya replies, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with the way I eat! She, however, can be very emotionally driven. Sometimes, you just cannot reason with her when she wants something to be done her way. Ask us again in a year, we’ll most likely have a long list of pet peeves by then.”
There is no doubt children will be a part of the equation. Having only one other sibling, Rarin says she would be happy to have two children. “I say the more the merrier,” laughs Suriya. “In terms of parenting, originally I thought that I would be the bad cop and Rarin the good cop, but since we got married I think I’ll be the one consoling our kids.” Rarin disagrees, adding, “He will be strict but he will use a lot of reason and logic with the children as he does with me, which isn’t a bad thing.”
While most people have a tendency to search for partners with the same interests and similar characters, sometimes opposites really do attract. “We have absolutely nothing in common,” laughs Suriya and Rarin confirms it. “It’s true. We don’t like the same things or have the same interests.” That said, both are career-driven individuals who do share the same values and love of family.
To make sure they were in tip-top shape for their wedding, both went on a strict diet for a few weeks prior to their big day. Now they have no such restraints and enjoy dining out together. So they do have something in common, we point out. “Well yes, we share a fondness for food. So we will grow old and fat and cranky together,” Suriya says with a smile. The couple foresee a great life ahead, one in which it’s really just about two people being there for one another, through good and bad. “Security. That’s really what I was looking for and what I have found in Rarin,” Suriya explains. “A significant other who is a teammate in life.”
Both admit to being workaholics and retirement isn’t something that they have given much thought to. “If by retirement you mean stop working, I don’t think I can do that,” says the Major Development managing director. The world of real estate aside, he has ambitions to create a theme park. Similarly, Rarin also intends to keep working for as long as she can, although hopefully with more time given over to travel. “We are already planning trips to Italy, the US and Canada,” she says.
All matters of the heart are complicated and there’s no fixed manual on successful love or marriage and Rarin and Suriya are a testament to how a friendship can evolve into something deeper and longer lasting. “We are no experts at being a couple—far from it—but I know one of the secrets is being able to just hang around in each other’s company and be comfortably boring together,” laughs Suriya.
Photography: Chaiwat Kungsamrith
Styling: Sachon Kunajiramedt
Hair: Pichet Poobanthat
Makeup: Jiranat Tangpaisalkij
Location: Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
(More Tatler Love Stories: Pimdao & Pierre-Alexandre: A Fairy Tale Love Story)