The Gubarevs on why they are stronger together

Power couple Anna Gubareva and Alexey Gubarev were recently photographed in their home and shared how their relationship began and has evolved through their move to Cyprus and impressive ongoing professional success.

In the ruffled pages of modern entrepreneurial exploits, one can find countless narratives of success interwoven with themes of ambition and resilience. But, once in a while, there emerges a story that resonates with a different timbre – the harmony of married love.

Anna Gubareva and Alexey Gubarev traversed continents two decades ago, from the uninvitingly cold Russia to the sunny shores of Cyprus, and have since been navigating the complex terrain of matrimony, family and career.

Anna Gubareva is the founder of the City Friends Club in Limassol, an award-winning non-profit organisation that aims to reduce waste and introduce sustainable waste management practices and the recipient of the 2023 Red Diamond: Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Businesswoman of the Year Award.

For his part, Alexey Gubarev is one of the masterminds behind Palta, a company that has nurtured some of the biggest health and wellness startups in the world. He received the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2023 In Business Awards. In this intimate conversation, we delve into the labyrinthine intricacies of married life and career ambitions, where a passion for purpose coalesces into the harmonious hum of a shared destiny.

Let’s start with the obvious: how, when and where did you meet? And who made the first move?

Anna Gubareva: Alexey and I studied together at an experimental Lyceum, studying in parallel classes; he was in the math class, and I was in the humanities class. When taking the entrance exams for this school, our names were next to each other on the list of those who were accepted. Alexey’s last name was Gubarev and mine Gubar. Our moms jokingly married us right away! We started noticing each other in the 8th grade when our friend asked me what kind of boys I liked, and replied, “Curly-haired ones.” She suggested taking a closer look at Alexey. He made the first move and conquered my heart with his attentiveness and care. He carried my backpack and presented me with chocolates and cuddly toys. Since then, his attention has always surrounded me.

Alexey Gubarev: We started dating in January 1995 but actually met three years before. Almost everyone in our Lyceum knew each other since there were 126 students. That year, a group of students from the school went to celebrate New Year at a Pioneer Camp. I invited Anna to walk into an abandoned theatre. There was no-one else but us; it was minus 35 degrees Celsius outside!

You moved to Cyprus in 2002. How did the change of country affect your relationship?

Anna Gubareva: I think it brought us closer. When we moved, I didn’t know any English and didn’t have a work permit, but we already had a baby -- I was entirely focused on my family. We had friends who moved with us simultaneously, but our family was still separate from the rest of the world. So, we spent a lot of time together, despite my husband always working.

Alexey Gubarev: It was challenging for us in the first year because Cyprus looked different 20 years ago. Anna loved big cities but I was content with any place since I had a busy work schedule. She insisted that we change cities, so we moved from Paphos to Limassol. In the end, I’m pleased with that decision.

As your individual careers started taking off (with Alexey involved with Servers.com and Anna launching a dance studio, among other things), was it necessary to develop any daily couple rituals to stay connected?

Anna Gubareva: Yes, we have rituals that have naturally become a part of our lives, and have quite a few shared interests. We love adventures and travel a lot with and without the kids – these are completely different types of vacations. On Sundays, the whole family looks forward to me making pancakes. When Alexey fires up the barbecue or grills steaks, no family member misses out and sometimes our friends can join too. We try to go out together for breakfast or lunch or simply have tea together in the city whenever the opportunity arises.

Alexey Gubarev: I used to travel frequently for different meetings and conferences, and I told Anna that I wanted her to fly with me at least once a month. By then, we already had a nanny taking care of our children, so we could afford to go away for a few days. I believe it helped our relationship immensely.

How do you separate responsibilities at home?

Anna Gubareva: We have a flexible system. My husband can take over and settle the children for the night or pack them for school in the morning. We have outsourced cleaning and cooking, and whoever notices the garbage first takes it out.

Alexey Gubarev: Anna takes care of the house and I try not to interfere! She found an interior designer for our apartment. Currently, we are building an apartment and another house, and Anna has been selecting all the materials and deciding on the design. I am thankful to her because it saved me from investing time in what is a long process. However, if there are any problems related to the renovation, I take responsibility for overseeing them.

Daily job stressors can accumulate in family dynamics. Is the spillover of work stress into family life something you have experienced? If so, how did you navigate that?

Anna Gubareva: My strategy is to leave my husband alone and not burden him with my problems. I want to give him more time to rest by going to the cinema or the theatre and saving his energy to solve workplace issues. On the other hand, I need Alexey to get involved and help me when I’m dealing with problems.

In what ways do you support each other’s careers?

Anna Gubareva: We don’t hinder each other from growing and trying new things. When my husband comes up with a new idea, we always put it into practice. He also gladly supports my plans. I often rely on his opinion when making decisions because he has considerable experience in business. Meanwhile, when Alexey had little experience in public speaking, I wrote texts for him. We attempted to work together when we first moved to Cyprus, but combining our personal life and work was difficult.

Alexey Gubarev: I believe that we are stronger together because of our mutual support. However, dividing our areas of influence within the family is essential in minimising conflicts. I am skilled in operations and prefer to solve problems quickly while Anna looks at things from a different angle, which makes for a great combination. She also takes more responsibility for the children, which is very time-consuming and stressful.

You both share the same love for adventure (as shown by your MadWay Rally excursions in the Siberian wilderness). How important are such shared interests for maintaining a healthy relationship that spans decades? Do you undertake other activities together that have a similar impact?

Alexey Gubarev: Having common interests is essential but it is also crucial for each person to have personal hobbies; we don’t have to do everything together. For example, I occasionally enjoy playing golf while my wife has a different interest and I won’t force her to join me. However, shared hobbies are excellent because it enables you to discuss and prepare for activities together.

Finally, perhaps the most important question of all: who controls the TV remote at home?

Anna Gubareva: Remote control belongs to my husband, literally and figuratively! We can watch TV for about 15 minutes in the evening -- he is responsible for turning off the TV when we fall asleep.

Alexey Gubarev: I mostly make all the crucial decisions. Anna makes her business decisions, although she sometimes asks me for advice. But we discuss my business decisions within the family when I wonder if I’m making the right choice or when it is a difficult choice to make.

(Photos by Giorgos Charal)

This interview first appeared in the 2023 edition of The Cyprus Journal of Wealth Management. Click here to view it.

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