Experience 12:28 04 May 2023

Live a family life, not a long-distance one: stories of Ukrainian couples in long-distance relationships

When the war broke into the lives of Ukrainians, the relationships of hundreds of thousands of couples changed to the format of long-distance relationships. Rubryka collected the stories of three couples who must fit their love into correspondence and short calls, miss each other and build a family despite thousands of kilometers. Rubryka asked how they endure the distance and what helps them not lose that exceptional warmth between lovers.

What is the problem?

According to the Ministry of Justice statistics, in 2022, 17,893 couples decided to end their marriage. This is much less than the previous year, but, as psychologists note, official statistics for Ukraine do not show the actual state of affairs because now, spouses often break up via phone without submitting documents for an official divorce.

What is the solution?

To save the family, both have to make a lot of effort. Mutual understanding and respect are integral for maintaining healthy relationships. Happy couples love and appreciate each other and always listen to and support their loved ones in any situation.

Ukrainian women shared their own stories about how they managed to maintain long-distance relationships. Anna Chechenina, a psychologist-psychotherapist, told what can be done to preserve long-distance relationships caused by war.

How does it work?
Viktoriia and Yevhen: "In the morning, the children and I send a video on Telegram in which we wish a quiet and peaceful day to their father"

поради для пар на відстані

Kharkiv residents Victoria and Yevhen have been married for 16 years. In April 2022, a Viktoria with two children — a 3.5-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son — evacuated from the city, mercilessly bombed by the russian invaders, to Poland. Victoria's husband stayed to defend Ukraine.

"Before the start of the full-scale invasion, we were an ordinary family. Zhenya is an event host by trade. He never had any military experience but could not just sit at home, so he went to the Military Commissariat to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine ranks," Viktoria continues. "We stayed in the Kharkiv region for a month and then decided to go to Warsaw to visit our children's godparents. Zhenya said he would feel better if we were safe. We were supposed to stay until the summer at most, then decided to stay until September. But we are still here." April 9, it will be a year since we are in Warsaw," Viktoria shares.

Over the past year, Victoria saw her husband once — in the summer. He is a material support sergeant and went to the west of Ukraine to get a car, and his family came to see him. What helps them maintain a long-distance relationship?

"It's difficult, but we are constantly working on this issue," admits Victoria and shares her life hacks. "I always listen when he needs to share something. We send a video on Telegram every morning wishing him a quiet and peaceful day — this is our tradition."

I give him little surprises on all our family dates; he doesn't always receive them on the exact day, but a family friend who stayed in Kharkiv helps me by being my courier. And, of course, we always try sending each other something romantic and intimate, only ours with my husband. Long-distance relationships are tough. But now there is no other way. Because we left, first of all, to save the children from this horror," concludes Victoria.

Andrii and Valentyna: "He promised to cook me borscht someday. He must protect himself, at least for this!"

стосунки на відстані під час війни

Andrii has been in the ranks of the Armed Forces for several years, and Valentyna is now in Kyiv. They met in 2018 and have been together for four years. At the time of their acquaintance, Valentyna, who had a lot of contact with soldiers, already understood what war was. And Andrii survived captivity and the Battle of Ilovaisk, one of the bloodiest battles of the Ukrainian resistance in the east of Ukraine in August 2014.

"Andrii spends at home about ten days every half a year. This format of relations is not everyone's cup of tea, and the war only adds complications, but we try to cope with it," Valentyna continues. "In our relationship, I decided not to be a victim, saying, 'I'm so unhappy because I'm dealing with a child here alone.' On the contrary, I try to support and encourage my husband because it is not easy for him there. He promised to cook me borscht someday. He must protect himself, at least for this purpose! I tell him how much I want borscht, but I don't have time to cook it with a child…

Honestly, he's worried I'll get tired of waiting because many women can't handle that kind of long-distance family life. But I have my arguments for these fears: I've been waiting for a man for 40 years, I've dreamed about him to the last detail, and when I met you, I was shocked that everything I thought of came true. And now I have to leave you?" Valentyna says.

As for daily routine, Valentyna shares the family has an agreement: in the morning, Andrii must find an Internet source and text "good morning" and something pleasant. If he knows there will be no reception soon, he warns Valentyna, so she doesn't worry.

"Humour helps a lot in living apart. For example, our little son knows his dad is "at work." He also waits for him and often tells me how dad will come and go to the store himself, and we will rest and play. So I tell my husband to take care of himself because we will be without food if something happens to him," Valentyna continues. "Of course, sometimes we fight like everyone else. But in such cases, I tell him: I have a baby in my arms and don't have time for a divorce. If you want it, come and do it yourself. That's how we make up," the woman laughs.

Andrii is a man of few words. To the question of what, in his opinion, is the secret of a strong relationship, he answers briefly:

"Love helps me. And also — the desire to live a family life, not through correspondence and short meetings."

Dana and Roman: "Hold on so he doesn't worry"

як зберегти стосунки на відстані

Dana and Roman are from the Volyn region. They have been married for a year and a half, but they have been together for four years. Roman is at the front in the Donetsk direction. Dana waits for him at home, volunteers, and collects funds for the necessary equipment for her husband's unit.

"Honestly, I don't even know what our secret is. Long-distance relationships during wartime are tough, especially when you know your loved one is risking their lives daily," Dana continues. "For those who, like me, are not with their husband now, I can only advise believing in victory, believing in your loved one, and supporting him at any opportunity. Hold on so that he does not worry and is focused on what he is doing," Dana says.

As for Roman and Dana, there is almost no communication now, so all other things are insignificant.

"I always wait for his message because it means he is okay. To be honest, this is the first time we have lived apart. But if your love is true and mutual, then the distance is a stage, after passing which, the relationship will only become stronger."

Even more useful solutions 

Love is…amid war: things that make long-distance relationships easier

як розвивати стосунки на відстані

As noted by psychologist-psychotherapist Anna Chechenina, one of the traumas many people are currently experiencing is the breakdown of family ties. It is not easy to maintain a relationship at a distance, even without war, and the constant stress of wartime only worsens a person's emotional state.

Over the past year, people have become exhausted and more sensitive to words and expressions of emotions. There is not always enough patience and strength to get closer and not lose the relationship. Unfortunately, the number of broken relationships and broken families is increasing every month.

Why now?

  • a long life in uncertainty;
  • no internal resource;
  • people became their true selves, which is often not the way society saw them;
  • everyone experiences stress differently and with different depths;
  • everyone's values have changed a lot;
  • lack of physical contact;
  • lack of communication.
  • And that complicates everything.

What can be done to save relationships, develop family relationships at a distance and make this difficult period as easy as possible?


  • Communicate via video messages.
  • Waking up and falling asleep "together."
  • Walk around the city, make a video call, and show them everything around.
  • Talk about your feelings, whatever they may be!
  • Send a voice message about your plans.
  • Send them a video with the children.
  • Ask your partner how they feel.
  • Send 100 love confessions.


  • Order food, favorite goodies, and usual things for each other.
  • Write a thank you post about them.
  • Send them flowers wherever they are.
  • Send them a package from another country.
  • Write them a very personal letter.
  • Instead of "how are you?" write "I love you."
  • Always answer their calls, or warn them when this is impossible.

Spend time together

  • Have dinner with the whole family on Zoom.
  • Invite friends to a joint online lunch.
  • Meet for a few hours or days in the border area if possible.
  • Rush to their birthday.
  • Discuss the routine: raising and educating children, paying bills, purchasing goods, and plans for the following year.

"In fact, it's very simple," says Anna Chechenina, "We're not doing anything new." It's just that the same things have changed their format and require a little more investment of time, energy, and finances. Doing everything you used to do for each other is very important. A person's unconscious will always hold on to those thoughts and habits of peaceful life."

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