Love Through the Ages: Nik and Vaivara
For this installment of Love Through the Ages, we’re keeping it in the family and chatting with our very own CEO, Nikolay, and his wife Vaivara.
Having met fourteen years ago while studying at the University of Manchester, they’ve been married for the past seven years and recently welcomed a set of twin girls into the world. The past decade has seen immense change and growth in their relationship, culminating in the birth of their wonderful daughters, so in this interview we’re getting to the bottom of how a person’s relationship to love itself matures over time.
Nik explained that at the beginning ‘there was a long period of time where we were making each other better people, but we weren’t doing it consciously.’ Without realising it at the time, Nik claimed it was only ‘human nature’ that he learned a deeper emotional intelligence and sensitivity from his wife, something he feels has made his life richer on every level.
‘From Nik,’ Vaivara said, ‘I learned to ask more questions and stand up for what I thought was right. I gained a bit of bravery, I think. Before I thought that whatever people said could be taken as a given, but Nik is always pushing to ask for more and see what else might be possible.’
But after this period of natural influence over each other, they both remembered a moment when it became clear that they had the power to proactively improve each other as people. They began discussing the importance of trying new things and their goals as a couple. ‘An important thing to learn is that a lack of communication about the future can allow couples to really diverge in their life goals,’ Nik said.
‘When you’re young, you’re just rolling with the tide and going day by day. But Vaivara realised we needed to make sure we had some alignment in our hopes and vision for our future.’
While admitting that such an approach played into their strengths as entrepreneurs and business people, they decided to take some notepads (and wine + cheese, of course) to Kew Gardens and spend the day planning their ‘2020 vision’.
‘We made some compromises, made some plans,’ Nik explained as they sat on the sofa, each cradling one of their baby daughters, ‘and some of the outcomes of that plan were that by 2020, we would have bought a house. We will have done a trip abroad. We’ll have and be able to support a child. And guess what? We didn’t achieve every goal, but we’re pretty happy with the ones we did.’
Making dedicated time to savour life’s important moments has been a key part of Nik and Vaivara’s relationship from the very start. In 2013, they had a seaside wedding in Bulgaria, where Nik’s family is from. They gathered loved ones from across the UK, Bulgaria, and Vaivara’s home country of Lithuania and had their ‘dream wedding’ overlooking coastal cliffs, surrounded by laughter, with a ceremony in English and translated into two additional languages.
‘Our friends all came and the theme was to be colourful,’ Vaivara said, ‘so we had these super colourful lights, a touch of colour in our clothing, plus the weather was wonderful which helped.’ Nik added that the theme of being colourful is reflective of their relationship as a whole. ‘Not just the colourfulness,’ he remarked, ‘but also the laid back approach. We spend a lot of time with our friends, so we decided not to do a honeymoon straight away but instead had a little “mini moon” sharing the time between friends before and after. Everyone was able to make a holiday out of it.’
Vaivara said that the joint holidays were great because ‘being married isn’t about just the two of you, it’s always going to be about your wider circle of family and friends as well.’
If they were to give a soon-to-be-married couple one piece of advice, it would be to make sure that you pinch yourself every now and again to make sure you’re taking it all in. ‘Stop for a moment and look into each other’s eyes, acknowledging and being grateful for the moment and what you have ’ Nik advises.
Vaivara’s favourite memory of the day came just before they entered the hall where everyone was to have dinner. ‘We stopped, just the two of us, and shared a kiss, and we were able to pause and watch everyone coming in. It left us with a meaningful memory that we’ll carry through our lives,’ she said.
And that advice isn’t just for the wedding day, it goes for an entire lifetime spent together. ‘We’ll be doing a 3am feeding with our two baby girls and we’re both so exhausted,’ Nik told us, ‘but Vaivara’s attitude is always that in a few years time we’re going to miss the fact that we can hug and cuddle them for hours. So while those late nights are hard, if you take a moment to appreciate just how rare this time is, you enjoy it.’
We stopped just the two of us and shared a kiss, and we were able to pause and watch everyone coming in. It left us with a meaningful memory that we’ll carry through our lives.
The beauty of love is that it changes over time. As years pass, the person you love comes into themselves. In the eight months since their children were born, Vaivara feels a whole new kind of love for her partner: that of him as a father. ‘It’s not something you can understand ahead of time,’ she said, ‘how your other half is going to be as a parent.’
Because they both have demanding jobs in business, she would worry that he would be the hands-off sort of dad. But that hasn’t been the case at all. ‘Watching him give 3am feedings creates this additional kind of love for him. I hope that he’ll continue to surprise me in different ways, so that I can fall in love with Nik over and over, whether it’s when he becomes a grandfather or any other new characteristic he takes on. I feel very grateful to have a husband like this.’
Of course, Nik feels the exact same way watching Vaivara come into motherhood. He told us that the most joyous part of their relationship was holding her hand while she gave birth. Second only to the trip they took to South Africa when they were still students, backpacking around in a tiny rented car, where he asked her to marry him.
While so much still lies ahead, Nik and Vaivara have learned to enjoy the present for what it is. When each day brings a new challenge—whether that be through parenthood, work, or partnership—these two know how to turn moments into memories.
Most of all, their ever-evolving commitment to each other is a testament to the fact that your achievements in life are second to the person you become through working towards your goals with your partner.
Thanks to them both for sharing with us.