In Ukraine, war turns love into marriage | News Today

News Today | abc News


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When the couple woke up to the rumblings of war on Feb. 24, they had been dating for just over a year. Russia was invading and Ihor Zakvatskyi knew there was no time to lose.

He took back the engagement ring he had bought but, until then, was not yet ready to give to Kateryna Lytvynenko and proposed. If death do us part, he thought, then let it be as husband and wife.

“I didn’t want to waste a single minute without Katya knowing that I wanted to spend my life with her,” Zakvatskyi, 24, said as he and his 25-year-old wife exchanged vows and wedding rings in the capital this month. , Kyiv.

The newlyweds have joined a growing army of Ukrainian couples who are rapidly turning love into marriage because of the war. Some are soldiers, marrying just before going into battle. Others are simply united in the determination that living and loving fully is more important than ever in the face of so much death and destruction.

Ukraine’s wartime martial laws include a provision allowing Ukrainians, whether soldiers or civilians, to propose and marry on the same day. In Kyiv alone, more than 4,000 couples have jumped at the fast-track opportunity. Before the war, a one-month wait was the norm.

After a three-month hiatus in normal service, Kyiv’s Central Registry Office is fully open again and operating almost at pre-war pace. Since Russia withdrew its bloody invasion forces from around Kyiv in April, redirecting them to frontlines in the east and south, many people who had fled the fighting have returned. Marriages increased accordingly.

Among the returnees are Daria Ponomarenko, 22, who fled to Poland. Her boyfriend, Yevhen Nalyvaiko, 23, had to stay, due to rules prohibiting men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country.

Reunited, they quickly got married, because “we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” she said.

Jealously guarding their privacy after their painful months of separation, they were only two, without friends or family. Rather than a puffy wedding dress, she wore a Ukrainian embroidered shirt, the traditional Vyshyvanka chosen by many brides now to emphasize their Ukrainian identity.

In peacetime, they would have opted for a traditional wedding with many guests. But that seemed frivolous in times of war.

“Everything is perceived more clearly, people become real at such events,” he said.

Anna Karpenko, 30, refused to let the invasion ensnare her wedding – she arrived in a white limo.

“Life must go on,” she says. She and her new husband dated for seven years, often talking about marriage, before war turned the plan into action.

Pavlo and Oksana Savryha already had 18 years of civil marriage under their belt before the invasion prompted them to renew their vows – this time in a small 12th-century church in the war-damaged northern town of Chernihiv.

“Our souls told us to do it. Before the invasion, we were constantly running somewhere in a hurry, and the war forced us to stop and not postpone important decisions until tomorrow,” Pavlo said.

While Oksana sheltered in the basement of their home, her husband took up arms, joining a territorial defense force, when Russian forces surrounded and shelled Chernihiv early in the failed invasion.

He then joined the regular army. They celebrated their love at church this month.

The next day, he is sent to the front.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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