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The Voice

Inside Jessica Mauboy's long term relationship with fiancé Themeli Magripilis

''I am going to be with him for the rest of my life.''

By Alex Lilly
Jessica Mauboy is one of Australia's most beloved musicians.
We first fell in love with her way back in 2006 during her Australian Idol days, but there's one person who has fallen head over heels for Jess more than anyone else - her fiancé Themeli Magripilis.
The ARIA Award winner and her husband-to-be met when she was just 18 on a club dance floor in Darwin.
Jess and Them met on the dance floor of a Darwin club. Instagram
Their relationship got off to a cheeky start, with Jess's self-described "crab claw".
"I was dared to walk across the room in the club and pinch this guy," Jess told Show + Tell back in 2015.
"At the time I didn't know who he was, but my friends had known of him and thought he was a very handsome man. It was a dare to start off with ... to go through the crowd and pinch his bottom!"
The couple quickly hit things off, despite soccer player Themeli not being Jess' type, but after seeing him around town in Darwin when she would come back to visit her friends and family, Jess realised that this could be something more.
"I'm the one who made the move and ended up getting his number from a really good friend," Jess admitted.
"I texted and said 'I'd really like this to work, how about you?' and I didn't think I would do anything in my life like that."
Jess and Them all dressed up for the 2019 ARIA Awards. Instagram
Due to Jess' demanding career schedule that involves a lot of touring, she and Them spent the first seven years of their relationship doing long-distance.
While Them remained in the Northern Territory capital, Jessica lived and worked in Sydney, but they stayed in contact with twice-daily phone calls and Skype sessions.
Themeli then relocated to Sydney in 2016, but it was on a holiday in the Greek Islands where Them's family lives when Jess realised that he was The One.
"When we were in Greece, I would get all mushy when he would be talking to the yiayias or papous on the street asking for directions or what to see on the island and I would think 'I love you, malaka'," she told news.com.au in 2016.
"Out of all the moments we have had together it was a realisation that yes, I am going to be with him for the rest of my life, whether or not I have the ring.
"I know deeply how amazing he is, how he is with my family and they are with him. And he's so hot."
"I think I'm the only one within the family who's not Greek." Instagram
Three years later, Them proposed to Jess on the remote Greek island of Kalymnos, where his extended family live.
Announcing the news on Instagram, Jess shared a loved-up snap with her fiancé, with the caption: "The love of my life proposed to me in his family's home town of Kalymnos, Greece on the beach at sunset. We are so happy I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. Thank you for all the love BIG LOVE JM & Themeli."
Speaking to Nova shortly after her exciting news, Jess revealed that Them had planned to pop the question a year prior when she was away representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest, adding that it was a total surprise.
"It was freaky to me. It was as if he was going to pass me my phone cause he was taking photos. Then he's down on one knee. He said 'Are you going to say yes or what cause I'm still here'," she recounted.
Them proposed to Jess on the Greek island of Kalymnos where his extended family live. Instagram
Both Jess and Them share strong family values and Them took the traditional road of asking Jess' father for permission before getting down on one knee.
"There was one moment where he said 'I'm gonna go with your dad.' That was his moment of asking dad for my hand. He said 'I've come on this drive to ask you if I can marry your daughter.' I think my dad choked up and said 'Yes, of course, I can think of no better person. I've been waiting for this moment'," she said.
What's more, Themeli's Greek extended family speak little English and knew nothing about Jess' Australian-Indigenous culture, but welcomed her into the family with open arms.
"Them has quite a few cousins who've all gotten married and had children, but I think I'm the only one within the family who's not Greek. I don't think they'd ever had contact with dark skin before, but they've been really fascinated and it's amazing," Jess told In Style shortly after the engagement.
"My little family 💕." Instagram
But the couple were forced to postpone their wedding when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Jess confessed it was "so sad" and "so hard" to put those plans on hold.
"I'm going to leave it for some time, I think it really is about rebuilding people and giving back to people as much as myself and my family can," she told Nova's Fitzy and Wippa in August.
Whilst kids are part of the couple's plans, Jess says it may also be a while before she and Them expand their family.
"Having kids and getting married is something I can visualise, but it's hard when you're so deep in the creative process. You just want to give every part of you to the project," she told Who in 2019.
"My sisters always say, 'When are we going to have a little Jess or little Themeli running around?' And Them's parents are getting much older and they're like, 'When are you going to have a baby? I want to have a little grandson or granddaughter.' They're freaking me out!"
This story was originally published on our sister site, WHO Magazine.

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