How do you love a person with intention? Is it through gifts, giving them good experiences or sacrifices? To fully understand how, we asked couples across generations to tell us how they love each other intentionally. 

Listen to their needs 

To love someone intentionally is to listen to what they need and provide it for them. You love them, but you don’t know them more than they know themselves. Circumstances affect their needs, so you have to constantly ask and listen. 

My boyfriend sometimes has moods that make him want to run away from it all. On some days, he wants peace and quiet to deal with his emotions. Other times, he wants me to hover around him and remind him of my existence by constantly checking in on him. Because he might not need the same thing at every point in time, it’s important to listen to him and give him what he thinks works best at that moment. 

— Gbemi* (20) and Femi* (21) 

Love them how they want to be loved 

Sometimes, how you want to love someone and how they want to feel love are completely different. You may like buying your partner extravagant gifts, and they may not be interested in that. Maybe what they’d like is just being in the same space and watching movies together. So if you want to love someone in a way they’ll appreciate, you do what they want. 

My wife and I had to learn this. I love to cook, so my way of showing love is by cooking for people. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t eat a lot. She recognised that my cooking for her was out of love, but it wasn’t what she wanted. She appreciates me sitting with her to watch shows every night much more. That’s why instead of staying in the kitchen for hours for a meal she won’t take more than three bites out of, we watch movies together. 

— Anita* (29) and John* (32) 

Make sacrifices for them 

Love is a constant sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you have to constantly put yourself at a disadvantage to please them, but sometimes, you just do things that may slightly inconvenience you. 

My wife and I love suya. We can spend ₦5k on suya in a night. Making sacrifices for the woman I love is sometimes letting her eat more than I do because I know the extra suya will make her happy. It doesn’t have to be big things like donating kidneys. It can be small but impactful sacrifices. 

— Israel* (40) and Adaeze* (41) 

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Communicate like your life depends on it

A huge part of love is communication. Communicating with your partner shows you’re willing to put in the energy required to make your relationship work. It shows intention. Don’t assume the other person knows what you want. Talk it out so you can work it out. 

My girlfriend and I have this thing where we over-explain to reduce misunderstandings to a minimum. If she says A, she’ll explain why it’s A. If she says B, she’ll explain how B came about. I believe it’s helped us show that how we love each other is a choice. 

— Chioma* (24) and Bisi* (23) 

Go the extra mile to make them happy 

You not only have to be deliberate about their happiness, but you should also go the extra mile to bring about that happiness. 

My husband is the breadwinner of the family, so he works a lot. He looks forward to the weekends when he gets to relax and not worry about work for a couple of days. For him, staying at home to sleep is enough to give him immense joy, but because I love him and want him to feel the love, I make some of his favourite meals so he wakes up to breakfast. I don’t have to, but I know it’ll make him happy, so I do it. 

— David* (36) and Yinka* (33) 

Treat them as an extension of yourself 

When you love someone, they become a part of you. Yes, they’re still an individual, but choosing to partner with someone means you’re bringing them into your life and adding them as recurring characters in it. So loving them intentionally means carrying them along in things that concern your life. 

I can’t make decisions without my husband because what affects me directly affects him. We’re a team. When I wanted to get a new job that paid a lot more but in a different state, I had to talk to him before I accepted it. When you love someone and want to show it, you make them important in your life. 

— Fego* (59) and Paul* (62) 

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Always choose them 

In this life, it’s you vs the rest of the world. I’m not saying you won’t have friends, but your partner comes first. They’re the one whose face you have to look at before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning. Loving them intentionally means making a conscious effort to always choose them. 

Sometimes, I get home and my wife and sister are arguing. They love each other very much, but the arguments still happen. Beyoncé vs Rihanna, Talokans vs Wakandans, comedies vs dramas, etc. Every day, without fail, I choose my wife’s side. It got to a point my sister stopped bringing me in as a tie breaker because she knew my answer was always “Whatever my wife supports, I support”. 

— Ebuka* (37) and Esohe* (35)




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