Cases 10:22 14 Feb 2023

For better and for worse: stories of couples who went to war together

Territorial defense soldiers Maryna and Kyrylo fell in love during a full-scale invasion. Meanwhile, Alyona and Dmytro, who serve in the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, have been together for over 20 years. Both couples are currently defending Ukraine. They maintain their love in the same trench and at a distance, under the burning sun and in the bitter cold. How do they do it? Read in Rubryka's text.

"We didn't think we would meet our love." Maryna and Kyrylo from Territorial Defense

Марина та Кирило

Maryna is from the Sumy region, studied in Kyiv, and for the past two years, she has lived and worked as a journalist in Mariupol, the city of her childhood. When a full-scale invasion began, the girl evacuated and hitchhiked to the capital, where she signed up for the Territorial Defense Forces.

Maryna understood that in case of a full-scale offensive, she would join the army to feel helpful.

Among the fighters, Maryna found a friend — Kyrylo from the Kyiv region. Before the start of the full-scale war, the man worked as a motocross instructor and fought for four years in the east of Ukraine, where the war has been ongoing since 2014. And after russia's full-scale invasion on February 24, like Maryna, he joined Territorial Defense Forces.

Kyrylo is the commander of a reconnaissance platoon, and Maryna deals with documents. They were friends first and then realized there was something more than friendship between them. The rotation accelerated the development of relations when the couple, together with other fighters, went from the Kyiv region to the war zone.

"We never thought we would meet the love of our lives, but it happened. We did not resist our feelings," says Maryna.

The couple grew closer during the rotation even though their tasks did not overlap.

Soon, it will be half a year since the couple has been together. Because the relations are developing during the war, everything feels heightened. The couple shares that they feel like they have known each other for much longer. During rotation, they were in extreme conditions and came under fire.

They supported each other because they understood who was facing what difficulties. It made the service a little easier.

"One day, he was on guard duty, and I went out to talk to him. For some reason, I couldn't sleep. I thought I would stay with Kyrylo for half an hour, so he's not bored. And somehow, in that cold and darkness, we kissed."

День закоханих

The honeymoon phase also happened during rotation. There was not much for dating, but Maryna and Kyrylo saw each other as often as possible. There was little room for romance, but they always brought each other sweets and cookies.

You simply feel that it is better to endure the difficulties of military operations with a loved one who will understand and support you during this period. The woman shares that she can't imagine having a civilian boyfriend. She is convinced it would take a lot of work to maintain relations.

When, after four months of rotation, the couple returned to the Kyiv region for rehabilitation, they were finally able to spend time with each other as civilians.

"We had a day off. He wore civilian clothes — a black shirt, trousers, and a coat. And he looked completely different; I was so surprised by such a role. It's not what I'm used to. Not a camouflage jacket or other military clothing," says Maryna.

The couple managed to celebrate the New Year together. They were together in Kyiv, had a family meal, watched a Christmas movie, and went to bed. They simply did not have the energy for anything else. 

Kyrylo and Maryna will not celebrate Valentine's Day too much, but the girl bought a practical gift for her boyfriend  — a hair clipper because he lost the previous one somewhere.

Maryna and Kyrylo are sure they want to be together in the future.

"After the victory, I want to get married and have children. But we are in no hurry with this. You should look at yourself in different conditions, for example, civilian life, because everything is different during the war. Here you try not to quarrel because many things seem unimportant against the background of hostilities."

"We are always together." Alyona and Dmytro from the air defense units  

сім'ї на війні

This year, Alyona and Dmytro will celebrate 22 years of marriage. In the early 2000s, Alyona was a single mother, working first as a nanny in a kindergarten, then as an accountant. Mutual friends decided to bring Alyona and Dmytro together. Even though Alyona hesitated at first, she finally gave in. Since then, they have been constantly with each other. Dmytro was already a military man then. Alyona also decided to serve to be near her husband. At that time, the woman did not know anything about her future job, but her husband assured her that she'd learn everything. The woman joined the army in 2004 as a radiotelegraph mechanic in the anti-aircraft missile forces.


For several years, the couple served together in Odesa; later, the military unit was relocated to Donetsk in the east of Ukraine. From 2012 to 2023, they served in the Khmelnytsky region in the west of Ukraine. Wherever Dmytro went, Alyona followed because they were a family.

Alyona shares that, at first, she was scared to move to a different city where she knew no one. And after several moves, she became agile. Now, she's a professional in making contacts in a new city. 

In 2014, Alyona followed her husband to the ATO zone — the eastern part of Ukraine, an area of implementing measures to ensure national security and defense and repel and deter armed aggression of the russian federation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. When russia attacked Ukraine in 2014, the leadership asked Alyona and other women whether they were ready to go to the east of the country.

"I agreed on the condition that I would stay with Dmytro," says Alyona.

A couple of years before russia's full-scale invasion in 2022, Dmytro retired. He planned to rest for two years and return to the army.

But no one knew they would have to go back because of a full-scale invasion. After retirement, the man rested at home for two months, then worked at a military factory, and when the full-scale began, he immediately rejoined his military unit.



During the year of the war, Dmytro visited Kyiv, Odesa region, and now the man was transferred to the Poltava region. He last saw his wife in November because he is on combat duty and in command of the air defense division.

Alyona transferred to the same Poltava unit where Dmytro serves. The radio operator position (Alyona just became the head of the radio station last year) had to be changed to the rank of staff sergeant for combat training. A month ago, the woman moved to Poltava with her household: a cat Kysia and a puppy, Jessie.

Kysia has been living with the family since 2009. The man picked up the kitten on the street. The couple even took the animal with them to the ATO zone. When the man was in the Odesa region on a trip last year, he took a small dog there. 

Jesse is already ten months old. Now animals are Alyona's furry support. Since November, the woman has been alone, and the animals fill the house with life.

"Show me our farm," Dmytro says every evening during video calls. The woman brings the smartphone camera to Jessie, who is happy to hear the man's voice. The defender doesn't forget about the cat, either.


захисники і тварини

Phone calls are their daily ritual. They discuss everything with each other.

"We have been together for so many years, got used to each other. But there is no secret to strong relationships. We understand what is happening in Ukraine and must fulfill our duty. But when it's all over, we'll be together. Still. The main thing is that everything is fine, and everyone stays healthy. We wish everyone strength and endurance during this difficult time. Everything will be Ukraine! We believe in victory!" Alyona sums up.

She is waiting for her husband to return as soon as possible and is preparing to receive reinforcements — their daughter decided to join the air defense unit.


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