Love Notes: Ivan and Maria – Married 30+ Years (part 3)
Published on Wednesdays, Love Notes interviews – with people married 20 years or longer – inspire us about what’s possible and capture a realistic picture of what it takes to make love last a lifetime.
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The challenges and the benefits
Ms. Finks: Without getting into too much detail, what have been the biggest challenges along the way?
Ivan: Just growing together. People grow and they become who they were meant to be. That’s not necessarily who you thought you were when you were a young person. So there are definite challenges.
I was too wild. Maria was too conservative. And we clashed a lot. Where we complemented each other in many ways, we also clashed in others because of the same things. She was just extremely conservative, which is what I wanted, maybe to keep me in check because I was extremely wild. I grew up by myself and was independent since I was 17, whatever it was. There were definitely some challenges.
But nothing, to me, that was stronger than our affection for each other. I never once felt that I shouldn’t have been there or that I made a mistake or that I wanted to be elsewhere. Never. I have never, since I met her, ever wanted to be anywhere.
Ms. Finks: Same answer for you?
Maria: Same answer. Same answer.
Ms. Finks: What’s the best thing about being married?
Maria: You have someone that you can trust. Someone that knows…Someone that you know that he’s going to be for you no matter what. Someone that you know he loves you no matter what. And someone that you come home and you know he’s going to be there for you.
Ivan: Security. Comfort. Security. Growing up, really, without much family, really without parents often times, I just wanted to be loved. I knew that. That was just the safest, most comfortable, most secure place for me to be was to be in her arms.
Ms. Finks: So what are the keys to making your relationship work?
Ivan: Her patience. And my unwillingness to give up.
Maria: Love. Because without love, oh my god.
Ms. Finks: Anything else you’d like to share?
Ivan: Go ahead.
Maria: You first.
Ivan: You’ve got a lot more to be happy about.
Ms. Finks: (laughter)
Ivan: I don’t know. I mean, I can’t say that this is necessarily true of me, but it’s what I’ve learned over the years, and that, I was one to take things too seriously, oftentimes, and made big deals out of things that didn’t need to be. But I’ve learned that that didn’t need to be like that.
But my personality is explosive and aggressive, so you know I always manage to stick my foot in my mouth. In retrospect, I can say that, just focusing on what’s really important and just let the bullshit be. Because that’s all it is most of the time. We tend to get so caught up in things that aren’t important.
I would say not to get so caught up in the bullshit. There’s plenty of bullshit to go around. It never ends. Just focus on what you have, the beauty of that. I wish for everyone to experience what we have. I would like for everyone to know what it is like to be loved that way and to love that way. That is the most beautiful thing.
Maria: I would say, before you get upset, see what it is first. Because sometimes we make a big deal. Sometimes it is important, but think. It’s important, but at the same time it is not that important. What happens happens, you know what, try to control yourself because there are sometimes other things are more important where you really need to get frustrated or strong. So, I guess patience.
I know he has a lot of patience, but that’s how it is sometimes. And that’s how we are together. Sometimes I feel like I’m the one that has patience. And sometimes he feels like he’s the only one. It’s just a compromise. That’s how we grow older and that’s how we love each other and that’s how we’re growing and learning.
Ivan: We struggled a lot with conversation. Because I wanted to make sure that we were growing in different directions, but that we were growing together, and that we understood each other. And that’s not always easy to do, because you may try to express something, but it may be interpreted very differently.
I mean, we’re different worlds, right? And so we see things differently. And we struggle a lot because, I think this is mostly my doing, because I wanted to make sure that we were talking and that we were understanding, and not necessarily agreeing, but that we, at least for me, oftentimes that I was making sure that I was sharing what was going through my heart and my mind. Maybe, to too high of a degree in certain respects, it was important. It was critically important for me to ensure that she was understanding how I was feeling.
And it wasn’t always wonderful and perfect. Oftentimes we were pulling in different directions and not agreeing, not seeing eye to eye and finding we’re really very different. Because we are extremely.
Maria: We’re very different.
Ivan: But we had to talk it out. To me, it was, ‘no you can’t just let it ride. You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. You can’t just put it in your back pocket. We have to face it.’ And she’s not argumentative. She’s not confrontational at all. And I am. So, I was looking for her to fight, and she wouldn’t. And so we would fight because of that.
In my mind, I think what has made my love for you grow even more is that you understand me. You know what I’m feeling. You know what I’m thinking. And to me it’s critical. If I can’t…I don’t want any bullshit, I don’t want any lies, I don’t want anything hidden. She may not agree. She may not even like it or respect it. But it is how I’m feeling and I’m sharing it, regardless. And even though that’s been hard, I think it’s cemented us. It’s made us more solid and stronger. I think.
Maria: And I agree.
Ivan: But it was a bitch.
Maria: (laughter) It still is sometimes. It’s not easy. Sometimes, I’m like “Oh, I need a break from you.”
Ms. Finks: (laughter)
Maria: (laughter) “And I’m going shopping. You stay here.” When I feel like I need break, I just say “I’m going to the mall.” He stays and I go. Especially, you know, working together. We’re 24/7 together. So we need a break from each other sometimes. On a break, he goes to see his friends, and I go to the mall.
Ivan: And I never wanted us to stay…You know we argue and we’re mad and so forth. But even though we may have disagreement or whatever, we have to go to bed forgiving each other. There will be no you face this way and I face that way, or I’m going to sleep on the couch. I have not ever not spent the night at home, never, unless I have to go to work or something, or I went to visit family or whatever. I never once missed being in bed.
It was easier for me because I’d have a drink or something, and I’m like fuck it, you know, whatever. And she would sit there and mull on it for a week. So I’m sure it was a lot harder for her. But we always accepted and forgave each other before we went to bed.
Maria: We never stopped talking to each other. Never anything like that. Hell no. Not in our house. If we’re living together, sleeping together, we talk.
Ms. Finks: Wow. Thank you so much. This was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful interview. You were so generous and I can’t wait to share this with people. This was better than I could have hoped for. Thank you so much. Was it enjoyable for the two of you?
Maria: It was, because we talk, but never like this. But this is how we feel for each other. And we wish, even for our girls, that they find the same. That they find the right man and the love, what we have. What we went through. Marriage is not easy, but a marriage consists of two people so you both have to work equally to become one. And that’s what we wish for everyone because it’s so important, having a happy marriage. A happy marriage means a happy family.