The Relationship Journal: On Love

The meaning of love is open to debate. That’s why we asked three couples to weigh in with their thoughts.


Of all the words found within the English dictionary, love might be the coziest, nestled neatly between lovage and lovebird. Phonetically, “luhv” opens high and wide before curling on the tongue with a tickle. It means harmony, “a strong feeling of affection”. But that’s open to debate. That’s why we spoke to three couples around the world — two young lovers in Nashville, a recently married design power couple in Portland, and two Japanese retirees going 54 years strong — to hear their takes on the L-word, and find out how their beliefs about the emotion came to be.

Oliver John Rodgers and Kara Roosevelt


Oliver, 23, is a Nashville-based musician, who recently released his debut album, Nashville Demos. He met Kara, 25, at Bongo Java, where both work as baristas. They’ve been “hangin’ steady” for the past couple of months, and “it’s nice”.

Q. Describe your first date.
Oliver: We didn’t have one, and probably never will.
Kara: That’s not really our style.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Oliver: She’s chill. As chill as they come, really. And always down to “hang,” without it having to “mean” something cryptic. Plus she’s cool as fuck. And holds her own. I’ve the utmost respect for her.
Kara: I’m a top five girl: his challenging and stimulating perspective, his boldness, stories, passion, and sense of self. 

Q. What’s the biggest obstacle to your relationship?
Oliver: Overthinking it.
Kara: The negative energy caused by imbalance. 

Q. What advice can you offer to other couples?
Kara: Know and love your true self, so you are able to equally love and respect one another. Take your time.
Oliver: To hell with marriage! It’s outdated and impractical and selfish. Just go on loving each other until that love no longer serves an identifiable purpose. And then get out! A more utilitarian love should be the modern way. The institution of marriage will ultimately fall. It’s simply asking too much of curious, horny humans. We’re not designed for it. 

Q. Does love exist? Does it change?
Oliver: Hell yeah. Hell yeah.
Kara: Love does exist. Love is ever changing. Learning to grow exponentially with love is the key.

Q. Is love exclusive?
Kara: Not all love. 
Oliver: No way. I think our ability to love extends far beyond the simple definitions of “1 man + 1 woman”, “1 man + 1 man”, “1 woman + 1 woman”, etc. Let’s challenge ourselves to see beyond that. I think that in most cases monogamy ends up breeding intense jealousy and insecurity and all sorts of bad feelings. We’re not designed for that. We’re social creatures. Let us be social!

Jana Roth and Joey Roth


Jana, 33, and Joey, 31, are the collaborative duo behind Joey Roth Design Studios in Portland, Oregon. They met at the Pencil Factory, a bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where both were living at the time. They have been a couple for seven years, married in 2012, and have a one-and-a-half-year-old son.

Q. Describe your first date.
Jana. We talked for two hours. I had two drinks, which I paid for myself. Then we went back to my place. Oops!
Joey. I felt something for Jana beyond “she’s hot” the moment I saw her walk in. Once we started talking that initial feeling took the first steps towards becoming love. I was both too poor at the time to buy Jana a drink, and too into her to risk seeming desperate. But it worked!

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your partner?
Jana. Hard to pick just one thing, but I’d have to say how good of a father he is to our son.
Joey. Her unshakable confidence in the validity of her work and taste.

Q. What’s the biggest obstacle to your relationship?
Jana. Spending so much time together without getting on each other’s nerves. We actually get along very well and love being together but it’s important to carve out alone time and give each other the space to be individuals.
Joey. Throughout the first years of our relationship I was very protective of my work time, to the point of paranoia about the relationship derailing my career. Although Jana helped me with my business from the start, I blamed setbacks on the relationship rather than on myself. I now see Jana as the inspiration and creative collaborator that she’s always been, but I’m still just as protective of my work time. This can lead to conflict.

Q. What’s your advice to young couples?
Jana. Relationships take work. Find someone who you can grow with and who you love enough to put in the time.
Joey. Keeping your options open actually closes you off to the best parts of a relationship. If the person is right, don’t be afraid of opportunity cost. It’s nothing compared to how you can transform each other’s lives.

Q. Any secret to love?
Jana. Laugh as much as possible.
Joey. Love is a feeling and also a process.

Kimiyoshi Koutake and Kyoko Koutake

Hat, Monochrome, Monochrome photography, Travel, Bag, Black-and-white, Sun hat, Luggage and bags, Fedora, Shoulder bag,

Kimiyoshi, 80, and his wife Kyoko, 77, have been married for 54 years. He is a retired mechanical engineer; Kyoko used to run a local corner store that sold sandwiches and snacks. They live in Kitakyushu, a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.

Q. Describe your first date.
Kyoko: We went to a coffee shop in Mount Aso where you can view the town. Then we went to a Chinese restaurant and shared deep-fried noodles.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your partner?
Kimiyoshi: She’s cute!
Kyoko: He’s very nice. He was skinny when we met, and had lots of hair! He also treated me differently than the other men I met when I was younger.

Q. What’s been the biggest obstacle to your relationship?
Kyoko: Our hobbies are different, so, making time for each other. I enjoy seeing my friends and drawing. Kimiyoshi used to play mahjong and come home late at night. We discovered more similarities later on like walking around the mall and collecting china. We also built a house together, the same one we’re living in now. It’s been standing for 40 years now.

Q. What are mornings like for you two?
Kyoko: I wake up first at 6:30 a.m. and do radiotaisou. He wakes up after I’m done. Then, we watch asadora and drink one cup of green tea. I’ll make sandwiches for breakfast, or toast with jam. We have it with milk and fruit. Then we clean up and I do the laundry. Before you know it, it’s lunch.

Q. Any secret to love?
Kyoko: Being able to have fun together.
Kimiyoshi: Sharing meals together.

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