Extraordinary Companionship —that’s the title of a chapter in a book that Cindy read called, The Power of a Positive Wife. It’s important to understand that Cindy is a voracious reader. She’s usually reading no less than five books simultaneously and most are on the subject of marriage. Because she reads so much she has a tendency to leave these books in certain rooms of the house that I frequent quite regularly (three guesses which room).
It was in this room that I noticed the book and began to leaf through it from back-to-front (I think this is the standard way many men “read” books—at least in this particular room). That’s when I happened on chapter 11, “Extraordinary Companionship—Enjoying Life, Love and Laughter Together.” The Author, Karol Ladd, caught my interest with the following story. See if you can relate:
Henrietta and her husband, Wally had struggled for years with a troubled marriage. The owner of the only bank in a small town, Wally was also known as the town’s most tight-fisted miser. His constant insistence that Henrietta curb her spending, along with his relentless bargain hunting, nearly drove his wife crazy.
Much to her surprise one day, Henrietta found a note addressed to her on her doorstep. “Leave ten thousand dollars under the roots of the dogwood tree in the town square tonight,” the note said. “If you don’t your husband will be kidnapped, and you will never see him again.” That night Henrietta went to the town square. She left her reply under the dogwood tree: “I don’t have even a hundred dollars, let alone ten thousand dollars. But I’m counting on you boys to keep your end of the deal.”
Karol used that story to make the point that even when we’re in a troubled marriage there are some positive options available to us to turn things around—no matter what condition the marriage is in now. She believes that we (husbands and wives) have at least one “basic need” in common that we can build on. It’s the need for companionship.
Companionship as God Sees It
Cindy and I believe that God’s word is clear about our need for companionship. That is because He said right from the beginning of creation, “It is not good for man to be alone.” It has been His plan all along for husbands and wives to be relational. We know that for many couples this is a struggle.
Companionship is reduced in many marriages to nothing more than brief moments of talking AT each other. It’s punctuated by occasional “intimate moments” (I stress the word, moments). Even when they take vacations, rarely does that lend itself to “Extraordinary Companionship.” It’s just a week or two of doing more stuff—and not always together.
I’d say that was pretty typical of our marriage a number of years ago. Fortunately, God began to impress on us the need to work on strengthening the “companionship” part of our marriage. I can remember very distinctly many years ago that we got away to a private cabin. We were alone. No phone. No work. Just the two of us with our Bibles, a couple of videos on marriage we wanted to view, and a little book called, 201 Great Questions.
Asking Connection Questions
We spent the next several days walking, holding hands, and passing the book back and forth asking each other questions. They were questions like, “For $10,000 would you be willing to stand up spontaneously and sing The Star Spangled Banner at the top of your lungs in a church service?” Another would be, “Which of your parents has had the greatest influence on your life? How?”
It’s amazing how simple acts of sharing answers to some questions from a book, began to build “Extraordinary Companionship.” I admit that I was intimidated at first to do this. I was afraid Cindy would ask me questions I wouldn’t know how to answer and I would look stupid. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we started building the companionship God desires in each of our marriages.
Today, I know I can be vulnerable and share anything with Cindy and the result will be it will drive the pilings a little deeper that anchor our relationship.
You may not be ready to use a book like we did to build companionship. That’s okay. Karol Ladd had the following suggestions that we think would work well, to at least get you started:
• “LOOK AT EACH OTHER.
Studies show that lingering eye contact creates a bond between two people. Never under estimate the power of the eyes. As Solomon wrote, ‘Bright eyes gladden the heart’ (Proverbs 15:30).”
Cindy and I do this a lot. I flirt with her whenever I get a chance, even in “silly” ways that bring a smile to her face, and I can tell you I get the results I desire. We’ve developed a “secret signal” to let the other know we’re flirting. If I wiggle my eyebrows up and down real fast she will blink her eyes back at me real fast. And then we both smile.
• “TOUCH EACH OTHER.
Touching offers another opportunity to bond in a nonverbal way. A simple touch is an encouragement to your spouse that you notice them and are interested in them. This isn’t a ‘sexual touch.’ A simple hug, a brush of your hand on their arm or back can put a spark back into your love relationship. Become aware of how your spouse likes to be touched.”
• “SMILE AT EACH OTHER.
When was the last time you smiled at your husband/wife? We underestimate how powerful a smile is. Start giving the gift of a smile to your spouse. Proverbs 17:22 says, ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ What better way to instill a cheerful heart than to use frequent smiles with our spouse? You’ve heard the saying, ‘A smile speaks a thousand words?’ Try it for a week and see what happens.”
• “LOOK FOR TIMES SIMPLY TO BE TOGETHER.”
Cindy and I just enjoy being in the same room at the same time. Often, when she’s working on the computer I’ll come in and watch TV in there because I know it’s important to her that I’m there. Even though we aren’t conversing, it connects us in some small way.
Now, you can find some additional ideas (much more exciting than I noted above) in the Romantic Ideas topic of this web site.
• “CONNECT SPIRITUALLY.
Admittedly, this isn’t always easy because often one spouse is on a different spiritual plane than the other. But even if you begin to connect in small ways like asking each other how you can pray for him or her that the day, or reading just a few verses from the Bible together (out loud) each day, it helps. There are a lot of ‘Couples Devotionals’ available that make it very easy to connect every day. (We recommend some on our web site in the Spiritual Matters Links and Resource Descriptions topic.) If you begin to do this you’ll find strength in your marriage that you never imagined possible.”
This list isn’t all-inclusive. But we hope it’s a jumping off point for you as we begin this New Year. Each day can be a “New Beginning.” Please view it that way, and join with Cindy and me as we commit to making our marriage reflect the love of Christ in even brighter ways. It is our mission to poke holes in the darkness.
Oh, and if you ever see Cindy and me together and one or both of us looks like we’re having “eye problems,” remember, we’re just flirting with each other.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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