The journey of this couple in their late forties started with practical requirements for a life partner, but soon love took over. Through the ups and downs of their careers, they have managed to keep their friendship alive.

How They Balanced Work & Family: Shilpa and Avi's 20-Year Relationship

indian couple, couple story

Shilpa Monika and Avinash Agrawal (Avi)'s life story is one that has stood the test of time, spanning 20 years of togetherness. The journey of this couple in their late forties, started with practical requirements for a life partner, but soon love took over. Through the ups and downs of their careers, they have managed to keep their friendship alive. In this heartwarming story, they share their experiences of striving for balance amid the work-life imbalance, and how they have continued to support each other through it all. Let’s take a read of the exclusive conversation they had with Baely's Consulting Editor Mahima Sharma

Shilpa-Avi Life Saga…the Beginning

I start with the very basic query of how they met, and what made them decide to get married.

Shilpa starts sharing the couple’s story from the word go! “I rejected many eligible bachelors before meeting Avi. I had a few very practical requirements: he needed to have studied engineering or MBA at a credible institute and be open to my career plans post-marriage. And as an only child, I preferred to settle in Delhi or within 200 km of Agra.”

Avi laughs as he recalls, “As for me, I come from a professional middle-class family, and Shilpa from a business family. My parents and I were initially apprehensive about her adjusting to our family, but when we met them, we found that they were all well-educated and very grounded.”

Shilpa is quite enthusiastic and interjects, “Listen, it was love at first sight for me, as I fell for his photo itself!” And Avi goes, “So much for being practical!”

The Actual Journey Begins

20 years! And still glued to each other despite the funny banter going on while I talk to them. How do you keep that momentum of being buddies alive? Here Avi says that for this, I must listen to their career stories to understand the deeper aspects of their lives.

Shilpa was the first to share details; her enthusiasm is palpable, “I'm from Agra, did Engineering in Pune, and worked in Hyderabad and Delhi as a database designer for multiple brands. I even architected the database for Aadhaar before joining Oracle. Avi and I got married in 2003 and our daughter, Jheel, came in 2005. After a short, three-month maternity break for me, his parents moved in after Avi’s sister's graduation as planned. I always wanted a joint family, and we are fortunate that they were able to move with us. The familial support has allowed me to be a working mother and enabled a holistic upbringing for Jheel.”

Avi chimed in, “I’ve always believed that self-care is  important to be able to take care of others, so we all fostered an environment that encouraged her to resume her career as soon as she wanted to.”

Shilpa nodded in agreement, “Those were our best family memories. When Jheel was born, Avi was setting up RouteGuru. We made a pact to take care of one ‘baby’ each. But yes, Avi would definitely feel guilty for missing out on Jheel’s time during his startup.”

Striving for Balance amid the Work-Life Imbalance

Avi takes us back in time to a pivotal moment that deeply impacted their bond. He shares his career journey, including the challenges and successes, to illustrate these experiences.

“Mahima, I grew up in Gondia, a small town in Maharashtra, and graduated from IIT Bombay in 1997 with a B. Tech. degree. I worked with a few companies in India and then abroad, before returning to India. We got married, and in a couple of years, I ended up launching RouteGuru - my first startup. And this did take my time away from Jheel, our daughter.” 

Avi goes on, “Shilpa was frustrated with my work schedule and wanted me to be there for them. So, after RouteGuru, I chose intrapreneurship in corporations for a better work-life balance.”

Shilpa here gives a deep stare into oblivion, pauses, and shares something important, “I very clearly remember one incident where a team-building exercise needed Avi to be away on a Sunday. I was about to email his HR team but decided to take Avi in the loop first. He was submissive and kind and said, ‘Bhejna hai to Bhej do’ (‘If you need to send it, send it’), as he knew I needed to vent out.” 

Avi nodded, and laughed to add, “But she melted and didn't send it. It still lies in her draft. So that's a funny incident.”

Shilpa though asserts that it wasn’t funny! And shares her side of the story, “When my husband started his own venture, I took care of paying off our home loan. I was thrilled when he exited RouteGuru for a stable job, but after a short corporate stint, he again joined a startup, and this was a social impact venture! Despite working 14-15 hours a day and skipping meals, he only took one pay raise in five years. While he was happy professionally, we weren't happy as a family. So, I drafted an email to HR stating ‘No Sundays!’”

“Good sense prevailed and Avi moved to the digital arm of a renowned media house, where he had an intrapreneurial CXO role as well as more time for us. Plus, financially it was viable for the family. We took the opportunity to make some long-pending expenses like renovating our house, and traveled, not just across India, but also to places like Iceland that we always wanted to visit. Travel is one of the things that has always helped the two of us bond better.” 

Avi recalls, “Shilpa made me realise that all she wanted was me and my time! It was but natural as a spouse and as a mother. That's how my role in different corporations helped me strike work-life balance as an intrapreneur. But then, I’m a challenge-seeker. In a few years, I grew over the challenges that corporates were able to offer me, and the quest to create a legacy started again. How Shilpa supported me in that, and how we struck a balance is our further story!”

The Strategies vs The Challenges

I chuckled and said, “You two are quite a team. But then how did you manage to balance work and life along with raising Jheel once she was back with you from the boarding school?” Here let me mention for the readers that Jheel was sent to a boarding school for a few years so that she could develop her own sense of freedom and thoughts. So now, Avi was thinking of a startup again, and that too when Jheel was back with them! 

Avi smiled and said, “We both have always given space to each other in our personal and professional lives. And our common love for our parents, Jheel, and travel has made sure that we never drifted away. She also saw me looking after her parents as my own, like she looks after mine, and this has also made us bond together. If she has been demanding at times, it was but natural. We dealt with it via communication, understanding each other’s needs and being a buddy to each other.”

Shilpa nodded and added, “If I look back, we've learned and grown together around the needs of our child, our work, and the many projects of life that demanded our time and togetherness. We have our share of fights, but we always make up. We've always understood the importance of each other's role in our lives, and in the lives of our parents, daughter, and careers. This, we believe, has made us always come back to that love and respect for each other. And here we are! We had anyway made a pact: At a time, we can at best have two kids - Jheel and a startup.”

So… then… Avi launches another Startup in 2021!

That’s where I raise a major question: At an age when people start planning for retirement, Avi has set up another venture - VenEx   

So, my obvious question to Shilpa is, “How did you manage to dissolve your frictions about balance, and go strong despite this sudden plunge once again?”

Shilpa interjected me saying, “Please don’t take my tough attitude as a wife and a mother to cause any discord between us. I am supportive of his decisions because I know how much they have meant to him. Likewise, he had grown around our needs from him as a family long ago. So, that mutual understanding and trust have helped.”

The Team Players… Shilpa & Avi! 

I was quite impressed with their teamwork as Shilpa adds, “What keeps us together is trust. He's always been there for us, at work or with family. He's been like a son to my parents. He loves being a part of our family. And he’s always been a good investor so our savings have helped us take calculated risks.”

Avi smiles and adds, "She has a very balanced life effect on me. Her style is to be lovingly angry and tough, but she balances our life together. As a result, I’ve been able to alternate between safe corporate stints and risky entrepreneurial ventures. God has been kind, and this venture, and the success in it so far, has come after a few years of playing safe and building a financial corpus that enabled me to take the risk for a few years again.”

Shilpa continued, "Besides, he is very understanding of me and my ethics as a mother, as I am a disciplinarian. He is very calm and explains logically whenever he thinks I am wrong. So that also helps, the water and fire combination!"

Avi nodded, “We don't keep things in our hearts. We don't set rules but it is about the quality time that we do spend together... drinking together, chilling out as buddies, traveling to and from Agra… all this has helped us bond together. I’ve always been grateful to her for having given more than 200% to our family life, while being a very passionate working professional at the same time.”

The Secret to their Successful Marriage

“Now what more, you two? Any more daily rituals that you guys follow beyond appreciating each other? I joke and ask.

Shilpa laughs and informs me, “Gratitude is our way of life. About daily rituals, with time, we’ve made sure to have at least one meal together every day. We also made sure to be home on time and get enough sleep so that we could spend time with our daughter and each other. The new era of work-from-home has also been extremely helpful.” Avi takes a fun turn this time, “Oh yes, talking of meals, she’s also turned into this amazing chef over the years. She says she doesn't particularly enjoy cooking, but then, she keeps making these sumptuous and healthy dishes!”

Shilpa and Avi also tell me that they continue to work from home even in the post-pandemic era in 2023, in order to save time & energy from travel and traffic, and to spend that time & energy with family.

Towards the end, I ask them to share some takeaways from their life, and they dodge the question by jokingly asserting that their whole story was a takeaway.

If you love the ShilpAvi story, don’t forget to share it with your friends. Who knows, whom you might end up inspiring via these two!


The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of Baely or the Journalist. Neither Baely nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same.

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media.
Read More


Other Posts

Download App

Want to save an article that you loved, download the app to get started.
Download App