By Ike Ezugwu.

What’s love and what’s it all about that we give it so much time and attention? Why do we take it seriously? Why can’t we just move on with our lives and shun love and all its entrapments? Why should people give in to love and end up being slaves to it? Sometimes, we just feel like murdering love in our lives and move on. But, what is love and what does it stand for?

What is love?


What is love” was the most searched phrase on Google in 2012 according to Google, yet there is more confusion about what love is now than ever before.  There is no greater force on earth that would be such a mystery for many. Many writers, experts in psychology and theology have tried defining and situating love, yet none has pinned down this mystery called love.

According to Wikipedia, “Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment” while Howard Jones, a musician, says “Love is letting each other be who we are without fear of censure. Love is not wanting the other to become a clone of ourselves. ‘Other’ offers resistance, pushing us to find what is self. Love is actively embracing our equality and pushing each other to realize our full potential and make our full contribution to the world. Love is facing forward, both fighting for a common goal – both strong, both independent and positively choosing a knowing dependence. Love is always leaving the door unlocked and continuing that love when ‘other’ may choose to use the exit. Love is letting go and wishing well. Love is aching joy. Love is the safe haven. Love is arriving home”.

In yet another a purely theological slant, Catherine Wybourne, a Benedictine nun says, “Love is free yet binds us”.  She opines that “Love is more easily experienced than defined. As a theological virtue, by which we love God above all things and our neighbours as ourselves for his sake, it seems remote until we encounter it enfleshed, so to say, in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Love’s the one thing that can never hurt anyone, although it may cost dearly. The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life’s greatest blessing”.

The romantic novelist, Jojo Moyes who has 13 books to her name, and has twice won the Romantic Novelists Award, says “What love is depends on where you are in relation to it. Secure in it, it can feel as mundane and necessary as air – you exist within it, almost unnoticing. Deprived of it, it can feel like an obsession; all-consuming, a physical pain. Love is the driver for all great stories: not just romantic love, but the love of parent for child, for family, for country. It is the point before consummation of it that fascinates: what separates you from love, the obstacles that stand in its way. It is usually at those points that love is everything”.

Having taken a look at some of these definitions of love, it is very clear that love means different things to different people, persons. In a spousal relationship, love is that bonding affection that couples share and cherish. It is the greatest emotion that drives a relationship – that deep affection, fondness, warmth, bonding, intimacy and endearment, that we feel for the one we love. Love is oftentimes very strange and weird. No one can really give it a generally accepted definition, because no two experiences of love are the same.

Love is very vital in the life of every spousal relationship. Marriage and relationship thrive on love. Naturally, love fuels a relationship and gives it hope. However, love is lacking in many relationships and marriages today. The saying that “love never dies a natural death” has been put to the sword and many relationships are love-dead. There are many reasons why love dies. Love dies naturally when we take some things for granted.

How we kill love in our relationships

There are so many ways we can help kill love in our marriages and relationships. In many cases we do this without even knowing.

Communication is very important in every marriage and relationship. “One cannot not communicate” is a very important axiom in mass communication. What it simply means is that we are constantly sending out messages, even by keeping silence or sheer inaction.  At every point in our lives, marriages and endeavours we are communicating – sharing verbal and non-verbal signals. When there is a communication breakdown in a marriage or relationship, every aspect is put under danger. Spousal communication must flow freely and ensure that couples communicate effectively. “Most marriage counselors agree that communication can make or break a relationship. If you and your spouse do not communicate effectively, you are both likely to experience frustration, anger and resentment. On the other hand, couples who communicate well experience fulfilled relationships, empathy and true intimacy with their spouses. Effective communication in marriage is perhaps the single most important aspect of a successful relationship. With it, you can edify your spouse and grow in your relationship in ways that are not otherwise possible”.

Many of us grew up with fantasies of youth. We also tend to have unrealistic expectations of the entire relationship. We cast our minds on ideal characters we have encountered in novels, movies and stories. Our expectations go so wild that we forget that marriage and relationships come with challenges. We forget that our spouses and partners are “flesh and blood” – “prone to human weaknesses, biases and faults”.  Unrealistic expectations kill relationships because such expectations are hard to be fulfilled and when not fulfilled, disappointment sets in. Unfulfilled expectations can then lead to feelings of inadequacy and betrayal, which ultimately cause a relationship to fail.

There many reasons why people fall in love or get married. These reasons form the foundation upon which the entire relationship is cast. They are the reason and fuel for hope in marriage and relationships. When love is built on mere material things the relationship fails once those things are no longer available. Also, the weak foundation of self-doubt and dishonesty, also help make relationships crumble. “Even great sexual chemistry isn’t solid enough a foundation to withstand the hurdles that your relationship may face. Friendship, as strong as it may be, can’t be the only foundation to work on, either. You need trust, respect, and honesty. You need perseverance to get through love’s trials. Building a relationship on something as fleeting and flimsy as sex, infatuation or a mutual flirtation will only guarantee failure”. Many relationships start as love-based ones but shortly afterwards the partners realize that they weren’t really in love.

Love is cast on trust. Once trust is betrayed in a relationship, it is difficult to see it survive. It is very difficult to re-build trust after it had been betrayed. When one has been betrayed by his or her spouse, it becomes difficult to trust that person again. “The very foundation of a good, solid relationship is trust. When you find yourself constantly wondering where your partner is, or constantly doubting your partner, you know that there is something wrong with your relationship”.

Excessive romance can lead to death of love in a relationship. Love is beyond romance! Romance can sometimes look and feel like real love, when in fact, it’s a façade that hides the true issues in a relationship. “Love isn’t all about romantic gestures and flowers and candlelit dinners. Couples must learn to shed the trappings of romance in order to see that love is also about hard work, overcoming trials together, and growing as a couple. When a couple is blinded by romance, they see love, but it’s an incomplete picture”.

Intimidation can kill a relationship. Domestic violence, spousal abuse and bullying all lead to crashes in marriages and relationships. They also breed fear in place of respect. Sometimes, we become so afraid of losing our relationships and marriages that succumb to fear and its attendant issues – depression, desperation, grudges, anger, resentment, etc.

Sometimes, marriages crash because the partners no longer have space to express themselves and grow. They feel limited and constrained by their relationship. Our nature is to want to escape from anything that feels like it’s limiting to us. “The reason love dies under heavy limitations is because limits are counter to our very nature, which is growth. We can’t help but expand. We can’t help but evolve. We can’t help but to change”. Love needs space to grow and when that space is lacking, it tends to shrink and eventually die off. So, when you place unrealistic limits, expectations, and responsibilities on your partners or even on yourself, the natural feeling to break away or exit the relationship sets in.

Why do we always limit our spouses, sometimes ourselves? Fear! We limit ourselves and others because we are scared. We are scared that if we don’t limit or restrict our spouses, we lose them. We are afraid they would leave, betray our trust or find someone else, something better. Lack of space in a relationship can be so choking, suffocating. It cannot be dictated or forced or obligated. If love is going to grow and flourish, it must be free, freed from all limitations and encrustations of fear. Love should be cast on courage – courage to go on loving and sharing in spite of our frailties.