A young lady in her twenties recently asked me if I thought love or companionship was the key to relationship longevity. Implying they might be mutually exclusive.
What a great question. As a forty-six year old woman who has been widowed for eighteen years, I can look back now and see that after three brief years of marriage, I’d have to say, death precluded any ability to see past the immediate desperation I faced. I loved my husband. We didn’t have time to cultivate the companionship.
When you’re twenty-eight, you’re not thinking about companionship. You’re young enough to still believe romantic love is sustainable. And it is. With intention.
My intentions at twenty-three (when I met my husband) was to fall madly in love, plan a life together, buy a home, have great sex (just being honest) birth a family, support my husband’s career endeavors and take care of my home. That was it.
What I experienced, was facing decisions most couples will never endure. In the face of his imminent death, love was painful and companionship felt like the grave. I wasn’t ready to be his grave companion, so I became his nurse. You don’t make it through the trauma of ALS without shutting off the romantic, dreamy part of your heart that knows, your dream is over.
My intentions at thirty-five were to be married, have a father for my daughter, have someone help with the load of my life; cut the grass, handle mischievous mechanics & creepy lawn guys, protect me, provide for me and help me make life and death decisions regarding my very sick daughter. Someone to fall into at night and wipe my tears of desperation. A human covering to remind me that God still cared. I was too damn tired to hope on my own anymore. I wanted to be a wife to someone who would let me be his help mate. Life was hard. Very hard and love was elusive.
My intentions at forty-six are somewhat broader. I buy the companion thing. Finally.
What I’ve realized through years of deferred hope in the relationship department, is that love wears many faces in different spaces of our lives. It’s the eternal shape shifter. It moves, breathes, expands and contracts. Or at least, it can.
At forty-six and going through most of my adult life without sustained love, I can see how as time goes by, the longing for a friend, a fun partner in crime and life, becomes more palatable to the heart that once dreamed of sharing a lifetime with someone from youth to old age. The latter won’t be my reality.
I no longer need someone else’s endeavors to support, but would gladly sit and listen over a glass of wine, to the choices they made that day in work or play. I no longer find my identity in being a wife. I would simply love to be the chosen companion, friend, lover and support to someone who values the same.
Love has changed in my heart. Love is whatever it needs to be at any given moment in time. Not to be confused with need or lust. It is the ultimate choice. It’s simply, a choice. A single act of selfless pursuit of someone else’s desires without compromising the base values of yours.
The person of Love has led me through many shadowy valleys. Many mountaintops. The person of love has never left me or forsaken me. I can’t say the same. I can no longer promise someone I’ll love them perfectly. But I can choose to design our relationship with love at the center. We can be companions who love.
Life. I’m really enjoying growing older. I only wish the spirit of wisdom was so gracious to me in my youth. I would have lived with the confidence that love, while elusive at times, is meant to nurture, cultivate, endure and cause to dream. Love never fails. He has been my companion.
Love or companionship? That was the question. The abundance of my heart spoke when I said to her I think as you grow older you realize that companionship = fellowship and love dances in between those flames.
Love calls to each of us with each new sunrise. The poetic heart of our Creator cries for all of us. In our pursuit of companionship, let each day begin with him and end with the ones you love. That’s life. More abundant.