A Discussion of Companionship
As has happened a couple times lately, I’ve carried over a discussion from a column I wrote over the weekend.
This past weekend I wrote a piece for the website Good Enough Mother called A Case of Companionship. Most the discussion was pretty positive, but one person made a comment that really stuck with me. Not a bad comment and not necessarily wrong.
The gist of the article came from a long discussion I had with an old friend. They are divorced, I’m widowed. There are a lot of differences there, sure, but a lot of similarities. The one we seemed to realize that night was that we both miss the companionship of the significant other. That isn’t a sexual component, it’s more subtle. The reach for a phone to tell someone good news or the feel of someone’s touch on your arm just showing a bit of affection.
A line I use quite often is that “love is easy, friendship is hard.” That’s something I said in the article, too. It’s easy to fall in love. It’s not easy to be friendly.
So I put that column together and moved forward. Then a reader of Rene Syler’s site posted this:
“Consider yourself very fortunate. In reality — in my experience — friends are closer and easier to maintain than companions. The bond between true friends is much stronger than a companion such as a husband or beau or wife or boo. The companions bond seems more like shackles when the need to please or understand is not address successfully. Regrettably, the foundation of the union is at risk. But, I am speaking from a single guys perspective. Although my rocky marriage at 20-25 did not last, a sound friendship makes a good marriage. I think.”
I honestly don’t dispute anything the commenter had to say. Not a vowel.
What I do think about is how sad that reality the comment talks about seems. “The bond between true friends is much stronger than a companion such as a husband or beau or wife…”
I wasn’t a typical husband, I don’t suppose. I was a musician, which my wife barely tolerated. I work in a job that requires a lot of attention and long hours sometimes. I was a manager so the phone rang a lot. I liked blues-based, rocking jamming kind of music and she liked folk music and some country.
There were days . . . many, many days in fact . . . that my wife and I didn’t get along. We didn’t like each other very much. She had some problems late in our marriage that saw me acting the atypical complaining husband. The phone rang…I complained in front of co-workers…I ignored phone calls knowing they were not what I wanted to deal with at that moment.
I’m very disappointed in myself over those moments.
Yes, I know, hindsight is 20/20 and that’s easy to regret looking backward. We weren’t always friendly or even pleasant to one another. But that’s marriage and friendship. No “true friend” is ever on your side or perfect every day. You trust the person who tells you you’re wrong more than the one who agrees with you all the time.
But for the bond of a true friend to be stronger than the bond to your wife/husband . . . I think that speaks to a bigger problem.
I loved my wife, deeply. But when things went right or wrong I picked up the phone or went home and told her. She always listened. Same on her end. I always went to bed telling her I loved her and I kissed her every day on my way out.
Friendship is as necessary a part of marriage as love is. The comment was totally right in that respect. I had that, I actually did. I didn’t respect it all the time, but I was friends with my wife.
True, I may have hurt a friendship or two with a woman by trying to take that beyond that level. It’s a risk you take but I think the risk of loving the person you’re also friends with is also so worth it.
The commenter’s “rocky marriage” speaks of the fact they weren’t friendly. Passionate, maybe. Maybe even thoroughly loving. However, that’s simply not enough. I look forward to the days when I enjoy calling a friend on the phone and extolling the amazing thing that happened today…and knowing that I might kiss them goodnight later in the evening.
For now, though, I can make the case for companionship because I had it and hope it might come again someday.