Love requires two; marriage does too. But to really succeed, marriage also requires other ingredients: respect, sacrifice, patience and understanding. Saying these words is easy – but what about in practice?
The National Herald met with Evangelia, a young lady who plans to marry in June, and a married woman of 35 years, Olympia, to discuss marriage. Evangelia asked for advice, and Olympia shared her wisdom.
Olympia Diomis met her husband Giannis in the summer of 1983. “We met on a bus in Athens. He lived in America and was on vacation in Greece. He pursued me aggressively that summer and he came back to Athens a few months later during Christmas – December 19, to be exact. Less than 10 days later, he proposed and on January 29, 1984, we were married.
Evangelia Karanikas met Ian 7 1/2 years ago. “We met after college. His mother is Jewish and his dad is Italian. Ian will be baptized this April before our June wedding. I think I know him very well since we have been together for so long. At first, when you think about being married, you get incredibly excited. But then you start to realize what an important decision this is. You need to be 100% sure! Sometimes you have mixed feelings – but since Ian and I have been together for so long, we have discussed everything and we are so in love. As our wedding date comes closer, the more excited we get!”
Olympia Diomis: What do you imagine your relationships will be with your respective families in the future? Do you think you will remain close with your parent and in-laws, or do you think you will want some more distance?
Evangelia Karanikas: Because I grew up in a Greek household, I am very close with my family. Ian and I want our families to be close. My mom will always be my mom but I also want a similar relationship with my mother-in-law. Your own mother though, can never be replaced.
OD: The thing that you should always remain cognisant of is not to get your parents involved in the personal problems of your relationship. There should be calmness, serenity, and respect in your relationship. Your mother, as well as Ian’s mother, will need to respect that.
EK: I think that’s one of the reasons we do so well together. We are all close but everyone respects each other’s boundaries.
OD: When you disagree with something Ian says or does, you should always tell him. For example, don’t say “you’re right” when you don’t actually believe he’s right. Always be real with him – be true. Instead, say to him, “I like your opinion but I have a different one.”
EK: I agree with you because when you hold things in, and don’t say what you actually believe, after some time it becomes a much bigger problem.
OD: And you could explode one day for no reason. That’s not good. Both people in the relationship should feel comfortable enough to express their opinion and both should be respectful of the other’s thoughts and feelings.
EK: Do you have children? If yes, are they married?
OD: I have three boys: 34, 27 and 24. They are not married yet – even though I would like them to be. But I don’t want to meddle in their personal lives. I can always tell them my opinion of their girlfriends. And if I ever think that there is something I should know about a particular girl – I always tell them “I would rather learn it from you rather than a third party.”
EK: When one of your sons gets married, what type of relationship would you like to have with your in-laws?
OD: I’m not sure what background the girl will have. I believe it is best when they share the same culture and background – but that’s not always the case. We, as parents, should not become an obstacle in our children’s relationships. It would be ideal if we could all come together for the holidays but if our children don’t want that, we can’t become angry and hold it against them.
EK: It would be easier if they were all Greek.
OD: I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sometimes when the in-laws are of the same culture, the mother-in-laws can really have at it! The most important thing is for the families to have mutual respect for each other. And for one person not to bother the other. One of my sons has had a relationship with an Asian young lady for many years. I have told him many things over the years about it – “If you can be happy with her, we will respect her and we will always be next to you – we will never disturb you in your happiness.”
EK: I agree with everything you have said. Ian is American and sometimes our families are a little different. I think we get along so well because all of us want to learn from each other. They are all open-minded and want to learn about each other’s cultures.
OD: With open conversation and respect, everyone can have a smooth start to their lives. So long as there is no jealousy, envy, or gossip. As humans, sometimes we become very petty, and focus on things that are unimportant. Love and mutual respect are the end all, be all, for us.
EK: We know that when we get married, our relationship with our significant other will change. Later, when children enter the picture, our relationship will change again. What did you expect to change and what did you learn from that change?
OD: We all think, especially us women, that everything will be just like it was at first. But let’s not forget that lust is very different from love. We have to learn to differentiate these two things. When you love someone, you need to give them time. Your husband may come home tired from work. He may want to go out for drinks with his friends. Eros evolves with the passage of time. It doesn’t disappear – it just changes. Once children enter the picture, things change again. We sometimes leave our husband by the wayside and devote all our attention to our children. This is something that all women should be mindful of. Of course we need to love our children, but we can’t forget about our husbands.
EK: I agree with you – and I think that will ultimately be a good lesson for our children as they grow.
OD: Absolutely. In today’s day and age, both women and men work for many hours outside of the home and it’s very likely that there will be misunderstandings. This is something that everyone should be mindful of. But when you know that your foundation is strong, you know that the love is strong and everything will work out in the end. The more you bind, overwhelm, and ‘drown’ a man, the more you push him away.
EK: When we first got together, we would fight because he wanted to go out with his friends. He would always say to me that he loved the fact that I wanted to be with him but that he also wanted me to hang out with my friends too.
OD: When we are in relationships, of course we can’t close ourselves out from all of those around us. This becomes tedious. Sometimes it’s good for there to be a little bit of space.
EK: In the old days, women didn’t work. They were home with the kids. My mom had the good fortune to be able to work from home – and when I was younger, I always used to say that I wanted to be with my kids. I didn’t grow up with a nanny or a babysitter but I had my grandma. However, as I grow older, and as I become more and more successful in my career, I keep thinking about how it might be difficult for me to leave the working force. It makes me sad that I may not be able to be there for my kids if I decide to continue my career. Do you have any advice for that?
OD: The evolution of life is definitely demanding but we can’t survive without procreation and children. Parents need to dedicate certain hours to their children every week – even if it’s just for 10 minutes – but not with a phone in hand. The time that each parent will give to his/her child needs to actually be dedicated to that child, not just in name, but actually in practice too.