DMITRY AND ELENA MALIKOV: How to Preserve Love after Twenty Years of Marriage | HELLO
It is hard to believe that this family celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012. After a visit to Dmitry, Elena and their daughter Stephania, one can’t help but think that the world will not only be saved by beauty, but by common sense as well.
As a matter of fact, the real family celebrations at their home do not start on December the 31st, but some time later. A sought-after musician is traditionally busy on the New Year’s Eve, and the first days of January are a time when he can at last exhale, relax, spend time with his family and think about future plans. “Usually, from January the 2nd to the 12th we are away from Moscow. This year we decided to go to the Maldives”, Dmitry says and a dreamy expression appears on his face. “Last year we were to America, and it was great. But it’s quite a distance and there’s also the time difference. The Maldives are still a much more convenient place for Russians to travel to because of the small time difference”. A telephone call brings him to reality: a lot must be done before going. For example, the name of a song that is likely to became the soundtrack for this winter needs to be agreed on.
— Dmitry, late 2012 was a very busy time for you. You released two albums, appeared in the “Battle of Choirs” TV show, and now you sing duet with Zhanna Friske …
Yes, we have a new song with Zhanna, a New Year-themed, dance song, I hope it will be popular. Also, I continue writing instrumental music, preparing the release of a new album, Pianomaniя. The PANACEA
album was released in October, it’s being sold at the 36.6 chain pharmacies. All the money from the sales of the album will be given to the “Touching the Heart” Charitable Foundation.
— This year you started an ambitious social initiative called “The Lessons of Music” where you are visiting less well-to-do cities and towns.
At some point I felt that I wanted to not only help myself and my family, but also the country where I was born and where I live and which needs all the help it can get. Each one of us must do something good to the best of his or her ability. And if I can convince children, parents and teachers that it is necessary to learn classical music, then I must do it. Children need this first of all to become mature, culturally and spiritually developed individuals. I plan to continue with this program in the coming year for as long as I can. If one child decides not to abandon music and another one develops a talent as a composer or performer, I will consider that to be a successful contribution on my part and I will be happy.
— Are you hosting a children’s TV show for all the same reasons?
The whole thing came out as a surprise. The well-known producer Alexander Mitroshenkov invited me to host the ‘Spokoynoy nochi, malyshi!’ show and I agreed. The show will have its 50th anniversary in 2013! It was a great honour to come in the steps of such hosts as Valentina Leontieva and Angelina Vovk. Moreover, I really enjoy the process of shooting. The toy animals make me laugh and I make them laugh too. I hope this merry atmosphere is passed on to our viewers. The last months of last year really were very busy for me. Thanks to the “Battle of Choirs” show aired on the Russia TV channel, I learned a lot of new stuff.
— It would be interesting to know what kind of new things can a person with a conservatory education who’s been on stage for 25 years learn from a TV show?
My experience working as a producer for Plazma with two soloists is a long shot from working with 20 young girls. When one of them is ill, another is angry and the third one is sulking, it becomes very difficult to make them work as a team. At one point I felt as if I were a football coach.
— For many people, you are an example of a well-educated person with a refined taste. You are promoting classical music, but are you yourself a consumer of the products of mass culture? Can one see you at a cinema watching a light-hearted comedy with a bowl of popcorn in hand?
Easily. I like all sorts of things. I am all for living life to the fullest. I just want life to always have a modicum of goodness, honesty, truth, integrity and beauty in it.
— Your daughter Stephania is 12 years old. Many modern teenagers spend too much time on the Internet. Are you also experiencing this problem?
We love gadgets. Idle pastime and artificial friendship are a norm for children nowadays. I am always worried about that, we have arguments over that with my daughter. Sometimes I manage to convince her, sometimes not.
I have my own ways. For example, Stephania wanted to go to a Jennifer Lopez concert. I say to her: “Ok, I will provide the tickets, but you will have to read all of Eugene Onegin”. And what happened? Not only did she read the novel, but she also discussed it with me and enjoyed the discussion. Another example: when Stephania was being rude, I told her to read “Heart of a Dog” and pay attention to how people from different social classes were speaking, analyze their thought processes and actions. For a couple of days after reading the novel my daughter was using the conjunctive mood when addressing people: “Would you please” or “Could I”. Teenagers today have another fad, they love posting pictures of themselves online. I advised Stephania who excels at drawing to publish her drawings. I think that would be much more interesting.
— Stephania is taking dance lessons. Could you say that her future will be linked to choreography?
Our daughter has been doing ballroom dancing for five years at the GalaDance club, but she also has a passion for drawing, music, learning foreign languages..
My standing on this is as follows: you are free to do whatever you like until you make a choice. As soon as a choice is made, you must abide by it. You have to try to be better at what you do, only then will you be able to achieve something great. I believe that this is especially important for a boy. A girl may afford to have some doubts, to hesitate, since her family is the most important thing for a woman.
— You celebrated your 20th anniversary in 2012 …
— …an anniversary of us working together! (both laughing)
— Family psychologists say that nowadays it is especially hard to keep a marriage going in a big city where couples live in a partnership rather than a hierarchy. How do you manage to stay together for so many years?
The understanding that our relationship has become a partnership helps. And, by the way, this is far from being the worst situation. Unfortunately, the world around us has become tougher. This change must be acknowledged and accepted. And also one has to learn to give away more without expecting anything in return. We, all of us, are seeing only our own interests, trying to make life comfortable for ourselves. But we are forgetting that in a relationship we receive exactly as much as we give away. This means that in a family both the man and the wife must sacrifice their egotistical tendencies. Only then will there remain a chance to preserve not only the stamps in the passports, but also mutual respect, love and sex, if you pardon my frankness.
A relationship must be adjusted as years go by. Every effort must be taken to ensure that people continue to need each other. Only then will a family hold together.
— Dmitry, could you imagine 20 years ago that this would be part of your life forever?
I was a reckless person then, never analyzing anything and very young. That was why I was consumed by the emotion. Of course, if it happened now, I would think it through carefully! (laughing)
— A relationship starts with an emotion. Conscious work comes later. How much more rational are your attitudes now than before? When you see that you must go and do what is required of you, act as people expect you to, etc?
I would call this responsibility rather than rationality. Naturally, I have more responsibility now. I have responsibility to my family, my wife, my daughter, my parents. As years go by, a person becomes more mature, more experienced. A man must be a protector making sure that his loved ones feel safe.
— It must not be very hard to achieve when you have the example of our parents to follow?
Yes, but my father is a very mild person, he grew up and lived in a different time. My parents have a really unique union, they’ve been married for over 45 years. They can’t imagine living without each other.
— Have you ever had a dramatic critical point in your life when you would say to yourself: “My life could easily have gone differently”?
It’s useless having regrets about your past, and there may be no future ahead, so I am living in the present. As for our marriage, sometimes it was great, sometimes it was interesting or difficult or nervous, there have been fun times and romance. I mean this is life and I have no second thoughts about my past mistakes. Besides, those mistakes were in no way related to some life-defining choices. For the most part, they were financial blunders that it was quite possible to overcome.
— Many families in need of support seek such support in religion or attend family therapists. Where do you turn to when you need support: your friends, the church or a therapist?
I am sure that going to a therapist – something that we are not used to in our country – must be a useful thing to do. To lift the tensions that each of us accumulates as time goes by. Probably, everyone needs a good family psychologist’s advice. Instead of a psychologist, we are used to asking such advice from our friends. As for the church, I am an Orthodox believer, I go to church, read the Bible, but I also take interest in other spiritual practices. All the religions that I know of do not contradict each other in any way, all of them teach the ideas of goodness and love. A person’s task is to perfect their soul, whereas all bodily aspects are of secondary importance. I am always trying to educate myself. But these are the kind of things that any thinking person is reflecting upon.
— You frequently go out together. Is this because you need this or because you have some kind of agreement?
It’s different. Lena has her own work. We may have breakfast together, but she might have to be in Milan in the next four hours and I might have plenty of work in the evening in Moscow. In any case, as any normal family out there, our vacations are planned depending on school holidays. But freedom is needed for a marriage to be successful. Each year my friends and I would travel to a country which is not well-suited for family vacations, such as Mongolia. We would visit different places around the country, living in austere conditions. Right now I want to go fishing to Astrakhan. I don’t think Lena would be interested in that.
Each time that Dmitry says that he is going to some remote part of the world, I am not smashing any plates in anger or making any scenes. And he also easily lets me go wherever I want. There are things that women like to do, for example, going shopping or fasting for a week. Why would we need each other for that?
— It won’t be long before Stephania comes in hand in hand with a young man and says: “Meet my boyfriend!”
We haven’t thought about that yet, but it’s not something we are afraid of. It is important to educate her in such a way as to make sure that she makes the right choice. We are trying to do our best.
— Can you be a strict father?
Yes, I can.
But he is not very successful at that. Dmitry is a gentle father. I have more conversations with Stephania these days. I explain to her the way a man should be, the way a woman should act, other subtle points that a twelve-year old might not and should not see. I am sure that it will be easier for her to tackle grown-up life with the information I give her.
— Dmitry, what about shorter term plans? Very soon you will be celebrating your birthday. What do you think the year of 2013 has in store for you?
I will be 43 on January the 9th. This is not a jubilee date. I haven’t yet thought about how I will celebrate this event, whether I will have a public celebration or only celebrate with my friends and family. At the beginning of a year plans always seem vague. Then there appear new offers, ideas, prospects. The most important thing is the 25th anniversary of my work as an artist. I don’t know either whether I will give a concert to celebrate this or not, I haven’t yet decided. But, at least, I feel proud and grateful to have my old fans with me and to see new people joining them. I am sure that a lot of good awaits us in the future. (smiling)
TEXT: Irina Popovich, PHOTO: Vlad Loktev
HELLO! No. 1/2 (452) of January 8, 2013