Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Do Modern Couples Express Love?

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By Mgcini Nyoni

How do modern couples express love for each other? Honestly, saying I love you hardly cuts it and besides, we tend to say I love you to a lot of people whom we are not romantically involved in and the use of words and phrases like sthandwa sami (my love), darling, sweetheart... is random and hardly reserved for the person we call our soul mate.

Physical contact; kissing, hugging, holding hands… has increased amongst people who are not romantically involved and is no longer the preserve of that one, special person. So how do modern couples express love for each other? How do they show each other that they care?

Traditionally, it was the exclusive duty of the woman to take care of the home and family whilst the man provided for the family. In washing, cooking...for the husband, the wife showed that she cared. And in making sure that the family is properly provided for, the man expressed his love for his wife. It was not really necessary for them to tell each other that they loved each other. It can be argued that what was happening between married couples back then was not love at all, but that’s a debate for another day.

With the advent of civilisation, the exclusive role of the man as the provider for the family has been taken away. In a number of cases, the woman has continued washing, cooking and so on for the husband and this way women have maintained their way of expressing their love for their husbands. Men have continued demanding that women push the ‘taking care’ of husband and family role and in many cases, unfairly so.

What about the men? How now do they express their love for their wives if it is no longer their exclusive duty to provide for the family; to make sure that the rent is paid, the electricity and water bills are taken care of? At some point, flowers, chocolates and the likes become lame and anyway, how many men do that?

In a proper modern setup, both husband and wife have full-time jobs and the maid takes care of the household. Providing for the family is a shared responsibility and all that is left between the couples is the phrase I love you and the sex; we all know these are not exclusive to the one person we are romantically involved with. ‘Civilisation’ has thrown this out of the window.

Gender roles served a bigger purpose than just the practicality of getting things done and as we move forward, we have to find practical ways of expressing love for each other in the absence of gender roles. Honestly, despite our outward expression of love and affection, there is huge emotional void inside of the modern man and woman and we become so desperate to fill this void we dabble in dangerous and destructive things.

And we always find men and women going back to the basics: Married men sneaking into the maid’s room or running off with a seemingly lowlife girlfriend. We all have heard of married women sleeping with the gardener, chauffer or some other man.

How do modern men and women express love for each other? I ask this question because even though I consider myself a modern man, I have come across too many situations where I am left wondering what is left for the husband or wife after love and affection has openly been expressed for other people.

As a man you feel unappreciated and unloved when your wife tells you that your food is in the warmer as she busies herself with painting her fingernails. Instead of lashing out in anger, you remind yourself that you are a modern man. That is until you find a seemingly lowlife woman who is willing to wash your clothes, serve you your food whilst it’s still hot and make sure your change of clothes is ready even before you take a shower.

The question still remains: How do modern couples express love for each other. The situation as it is at the moment is a one way road to too many divorces. We will hide behind facebook, twitter, whatsapp and so on, but it’s not a sustainable alternative. How do modern couples express love for each other?


Mgcini Nyoni is a writer, author and poet as well as the founder and creative director of Poetry Bulawayo. He blogs at Thoughts and Confessions


  1. Hmmmn!

    I hope I can someday come back with a definitive answer to post on here.

    Till then, I (as we all) can only marvel at how the introduction of "modern" has changed the terrain!

  2. How couples express their love for each other is no longer one-size-fits-all. Every relationship has its dynamics & when you are in a relationship, you ought to know what to do to convey that emotion without necessarily saying it.

  3. I think basically it's still a function of the the individual and understand the true nature of love itself. No matter how "modern" we've turned the world, some oldies principles will still persist and until they fade out; love probably would cease. I think we really need go back to the basics of it all; what is love? Our modern definition of love influenced by mudane factors and excuses to malign with our unrealistic ideology and pains of our experiences and setbacks hold sway,thus influencing how we thus express love both in courtships and marriages. Untill we begin to de-align ourselves from the so called modern phenom,love itself will continue to be distorted from its original meaning vis-a-vis expression.


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