Posted by: Ety W. | July 19, 2008

Companionship in Marriage

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Last time we looked at leaving, cleaving and oneness in marriage. This time I’d like to focus on another interesting word, alone.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Gen. 2:18 (NASB)

Alone – (Strong’s 905) – בּד – bad = separation, by implication a part of a body, a branch of a tree. “The core concept is to be separate and isolated. It can also connote the idea of dividing into parts.”1

The implication in the definition of this word is not one of individualism and independence. Rather, it is of isolation and separation from the completeness of the whole. The whole in this case is man + woman = one.

Now, I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, because hopefully we’ve already settled this point. But for women who struggle with a sense of inferiority, or for men who assume their own superiority because man was created first and woman was taken from his side, this definition should put things into perspective. The point is that man was created incomplete. And so was woman. Neither one of us was meant to stand independent of the other, but together make up a whole.

One thing I realized from studying this word, is that it is not simply the woman who is to be a companion to the man. As two parts of a whole, they are equally companions to one another. And because they are one body, their primary fellowship is to be from one another.

Most of us understand this in an intellectual sense at least. After all, no one gets married because they prefer to be by themselves. As time passes however, many of us find our marriages drifting apart. The reasons for this are numerous. The question is what can we do about it?

Some of the things which foster companionship, are attitudes and behaviors that we’ve already looked at:

Eph. 5: 22-30

Husbands – love, nourish, and cherish their wives

Wives – submit to and respect their husbands

1 Peter 3:1-7

Husbands – be understanding and honor wives as fellow heirs

Wives – be respectful, submissive, and gentle

And from Titus 2:4

Wives – love their husbands

For some of us, these things may come easily, for others, not so much. It is especially difficult if we feel that our husbands aren’t doing their part. In that case, we may even struggle with hurt, anger, or resentment to the point where we just don’t want to be companionable.

To me, the two things that I know I can work on are my attitude and my behavior. I cannot control what others (including my husband) think, do or say. Nor can I change my circumstances. But I can make a difference. How? In my attitude and behavior. I may not be able to make great strides, but I can take small steps. Below are some of the things I try to do to nurture companionship in my marriage. They are probably only the tip of the iceberg, so I’d love to hear your ideas as well.

1. Pay attention and listen. It doesn’t matter what he’s talking about, I try to stop what I’m doing, turn toward him, look him in the eye, and listen without interrupting. I tend to be an interrupter, so this is not always easy for me. If I have something pressing to do (like stirring the gravy so it doesn’t scorch), I tell him, “I need to stir the gravy, but I’m interested in what you’re saying. I can listen while I do this.”

2. Be encouraging without offering advice. If he’s had a bad day, he just needs to know I’m on his side. Companions don’t try to fix one another’s lives, they offer sympathetic support. My husband doesn’t need for me to tell him what to do, or quote Scripture at him. He especially doesn’t need for me to point out what he’s doing wrong. Believe me, I’ve done all these things and they definitely don’t foster unity between us. If and when he wants my opinion, he’ll ask.

3. Spend time with him. No one gets married to be alone. Time together doesn’t always have to be paying attention to one another, it can also be simply being together. If he wants to watch football or “This Old House” on television, I sit with him, even if I have other things to do. I’m not usually interested in television, so I do handwork. We don’t always have to talk; silence can be companionable too.

4. Develop or encourage common interests. Most of us are aware that when a couple is in it’s child-rearing stage, it is very easy for a wife to be completely focused on the children and their needs. Husbands often focus entirely on developing their jobs or careers. The drifting apart isn’t intentional, it is a consequence of this. Most of us probably know of at least one couple who found, once the children had grown up and left the nest, that they were as two strangers with nothing in common. The answer to this is to strive to develop or maintain interests in common. This could be anything: reading, hobbies, sports, volunteer work. Whatever it is, it is an important investment in the future of one’s marriage.

5. Grown-ups only treats. A lot of couples have a weekly date night, but sometimes we couldn’t afford that. One thing I’d do (while our children were still at home), would be to keep something special around, like my husband’s favorite ice cream. I wouldn’t even let the kids know I had it. After they went to bed, it was a special secret treat, for just the two of us.

These are things we’ve worked on in our own marriage, and I can honestly say that we are better friends now than when we first married. I’d also love to hear about your ideas as well.
1 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Laird, Archer, & Waltke, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980) Vol I, p. 199

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