Love is beautiful especially when it’s new. There is a fuzzy sensation that comes with loving your person for the first time. You become thrilled and excited at the possibilities of what lies ahead. Spending time with them is fairylike, not to mention the butterflies you get for just having them around you. At the beginning of any relationship, there is always that excitement and infatuation, mostly known as the ‘spark.’ Not that all experience or consider it, because some can choose to pursue a relationship even in absence of that. For others, however, a lack of this burning desire to want to be with someone can be a deal breaker for a relationship. When Rebecca Ishimwe was choosing a partner from the suitors who were pursuing her, she considered the spark. She’s always wanted a partner who swept her off her feet, showed her how much she was loved and deeply cared for. “There was no way I would enter a relationship, let alone a marriage, with someone I wasn’t excited to build life with,” she says. “The start of any relationship matters. How you feel about each other shouldn’t be overlooked. Much as reason matters when deciding who to marry, love/ how we feel, shouldn’t be ignored either,” she adds. Some insist however that focusing on the spark or love is focusing on the wrong things. Adrien Niyomugabo is engaged to be married in a few months’ time. When he was deciding to propose to his fiancée, how he felt mattered less when he made that choice. He says following the spark could blur one’s sight when making such an important decision. “Neither love nor spark should be the major contributing factor for long-term relationships. Most of us look for this feeling in relationships forgetting that it fades with time, and what’s left of the relationship then?” He, therefore, believes that factors such as respect and honesty are the core of excellent and long-term relationships. For Darius Mugisha, however, there is no single factor that solely matters for any relationship to work. “It’s what matters in that moment, and then what matters in the next. It depends on the people in that relationship and what works for them,” he says. “In that moment, it could be love, and in the next, it could be communication for the two to work things out. Times change, people and seasons change, it’s up to the two people to realise this and respond as how they should. Yet even then, it’s not guaranteed to produce desired results, he explains. Mugisha, therefore, says what matters is being in sync with each other as a couple; understand the behaviour and needs of the other person, be willing to sacrifice in order to make the relationship work. “Customise advice from counsellors and apply it accordingly. Know what your partner wants and when they want it. Sometimes it would take gifting your partner to let’s say apologise for a certain mistake, other times, it could be honesty, or compassion to settle matters. Be aware and alert for you to do and say the right thing at the right time. This, I believe can drive any relationship to lasting times,” Mugisha says. When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision, quotes war novelist Louis de Bernières. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away.