Love is a big deal in Anna Karenina. It is both a destructive and a productive force in the novel, and is understood inside and outside the context of marriage. The title character's adulterous affair is the main drama of the novel. Because Anna can't find love inside her marriage, she looks for it outside, which ultimately leads to her suicide. Familial love – especially Anna's love for her son – comes in conflict with her passionate romantic feelings for her lover, Vronsky. In fact, Anna's eventual abandonment of her son winds up destroying her ability to love Vronsky – or anyone – with depth or trust. In contrast, wholesome Levin and Kitty find happiness through marrying for love. It is Levin's love for Kitty and, eventually, his son Dmitri, that gives Levin's life meaning.
In Anna Karenina, mutual respect and compromise are more important to the success of a relationship than love.
In Anna Karenina, love is essential to forgiveness.