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Katri and Toni Atanassov: “True love is about persistence”

Valentine's Day is soon upon us and this much celebrated day of romance, heart flutters and over-consumption of chocolate wouldn't be complete without a love story. As the new senior editors of HC Helsinki, Katri and Toni are used to doing things together as a team, producing content for gaming website Geekremix and working as moderators for an American writing forum. To work so closely together requires compatibility and sitting across from the two of them, you can't help but notice the ease with which they pick up each other's thoughts, their playfulness, and the unmistakable adoration they have for each other. So abandon everything else, forget the cruelties of the world for a moment, take a comfortable position and let yourself be enveloped with love... 

How did you meet and was it love at first sight?

Back then we were both set on not falling in love, as cheesy as that may sound. The first sight, the first date, the first everything kind of had us going already, but we resisted/pretended to be all cool and collected for two weeks until our second date. After that, we kind of figured resistance was futile and just went with the flow.

When and how did you know your partner was 'The One'?

Katri: I can't pinpoint the moment when I knew, but I just knew. It might've even been on our first date; this feeling of two people fitting together perfectly. Over the years many of our friends and family have expressed how eerily uncomplicated our joint existence is. To this date I don't have the exact words to express what it was like to fall in love. It just happens when you least expect it.

Toni: In the very beginning of our second date, Katri gave me a card she had drawn herself. As soon as I saw the drawing and read the writing I just knew this was the girl I was going to marry. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew. I don't even mean a hunch; it felt as certain as my next breath.

What are some of the most important lessons you've learned about your relationship so far?

Katri: I've learned that things you thought would be sacrifices when you were single, like putting the other person's needs first, aren't like that all, as your significant other becomes the single most important person in the universe and nothing really trumps that. At the same time I've learned a committed relationship doesn't restrict your freedom at all. My husband is my best friend and I can have the most awesome adventures with him. I can never get tired of his face, voice or presence, and I'm always over the moon to meet him after a day's work. I guess the third lesson I've learned is that considering I have someone this amazing in my life, I have to cherish every moment of it, which means we hardly ever fight because we don't want to waste what precious little time we have together on something nasty and toxic.

Toni: I've learned it definitely helps in life if your wife and best friend are the same person. Katri is the person I know will have my six through thick and thin, no matter what. You can't buy trust like that. I don't think you can have this kind of love unless both parties put each other first. To me, love has nothing to do with the initial rush, exhilaration, and infatuation you experience at the start of the relationship. True love is about being ready to sacrifice yourself, all you have, and your dearest dreams for your partner, and they're ready to do the same for you; love is a two-way street. True love is about persistence. It's about both of you having the persistence to always put in the extra effort even with mundane stuff like packing lunch for your partner every day, cleaning after them when they're too sick to do it themselves, and enduring the hardships of day-to-day toil just to do something nice for your partner, just to make them smile. I guess it's true love when you would gladly let the entire world burn just to save your partner. That's where the trust comes from; knowing they will always be there for you no matter what.

Do you have joint hobbies?

We're one of those annoying couples who do pretty much everything together. So far our list of current and past joint hobbies include writing, jogging, krav maga, lifting iron, swimming, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, playing the electric guitar, boxing, playing video games, historical European martial arts, horseback riding, sports shooting, drawing, reading, traveling. That's most of it anyway. Even when we have mostly separate hobbies like horsecare and playing in a band, Toni often tags along to lend a hand when Katri goes to work at the horse stables, and Katri usually comes along to lug around band equipment when Toni's band has a gig at one crummy club or another etc.

What do you do to keep the sparks flying in your relationship?

There's not really much effort involved, just remember every day to not take your significant other for granted. If you do, you will always go the extra mile to make your partner, and consequently yourself, happy.

Has your idea of 'romance' changed over the years?

Katri: Maybe nowadays it's like romance is everywhere, in everything we do together, while at the beginning, what romance meant to me was more like what the outside world told me romance is about, like candlelit dinners, dancing, and flower bouquets. When I met Toni, I was actually happy to find out he wasn't that into crowded places either and that our romantic moments don't have to fit any rom-com mold.

Toni: On our second date, I learned from Katri (even if inadvertently) that the most romantic gestures don't necessarily have to cost loads of money. I still have her hand-drawn card, and it's one of my dearest possessions. I still do sometimes indulge her with expensive, award-winning handmade chocolates, the most expensive single-bean coffee etc, but nowadays I know it's more about the thought and effort behind the gift than its inherent value or price tag. Not all romance is the same. What some find romantic, we find boring, and undoubtedly some of what we find romantic, some find boring/unromantic/uncouth etc. I found it terribly romantic the first time Katri landed a solid hook (at a boxing class, don't worry) that rocked me. I was so proud!

Are you doing anything special for Valentine's Day?

We give each other little surprise gifts and prepare other small nice surprises throughout the year, so in a way every day is Valentine's Day for us. Of course some celebrations, like birthdays and Christmas, are bigger events, but by and large, little shows of appreciation are the norm for us, so Valentine's will be mostly about having a day just for ourselves.

Don't know what to do for Valentine's Day? Check out our movie recommendations, outfit ideas and more!

Photos © Katri and Toni Atanassov 

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Lyra Li


A perpetual dreamer searching for new adventures, more crime novels to read and the determination to become a minimalist.
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