By Gayla Grace
Her mom resisted her desire to marry. His dad pleaded with him to reconsider after announcing their engagement. But Kimberley Marshall and David Crenshaw made plans they wouldn't change. Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul recounts a beautiful love story of two people seeking companionship against all odds. Kim and David were both born in the 60's with cystic fibrosis. "At that time, before the advent of more-advanced treatments, 50 percent of kids born with cystic fibrosis were dead by the first grade; 80 percent were dead by their teens." Kim and David knew they were living on borrowed time. They met and fell in love at the cystic fibrosis wing of Dallas' Presbyterian Hospital during their late teenage years. Despite opposition to their engagement, they wanted to experience marriage before their short lives ended. Their wedding was full of other CF patients, longing to experience the love Kim and David shared. Living together as a married couple proved challenging, but the companionship it offered was worth every effort expended. They spent their days caring for one another in their one-bedroom apartment, full of oxygen tanks, IV bottles, and medicines. But they insisted they were "happier than they ever could have imagined." All too soon into the marriage, David's health took a turn for the worst and it became apparent he would be the first to go. It happened so quickly; his death proved too much for Kim to bear. Unable to cope with losing her best friend, she died a few weeks later of a broken heart. But the short-lived companionship was an example many cherished for years.
Marriage offers a companionship that is oftentimes taken for granted. Busy with harried schedules, we neglect to nurture the friendship that can bind two people together during good times and bad. As we witness the excitement of new brides and beautiful weddings right now, it's a good time to evaluate our own relationships and what kind of companion we make.
My former dentist, Dr. Walter Allison, who passed away a few years ago, had great advice on marriage and companionship. His philosophy was to give more than 100% to your partner, always looking out for their best interest. "Don't expect it to be 50-50. Give back more than what you expect in return." In other words, put your spouse's needs ahead of your own as you give tirelessly to your marriage. It's easy to spend time with someone who's interested in you and your needs.
Companion is defined in Webster's as "one that keeps company with another" and "one that is closely connected with something similar." Companions spend time together and participate in similar activities. My husband began walking with me several years ago because he knew I enjoyed the exercise and it allowed us time away from other demands to reconnect. After several months of walking, he challenged me to a walk/run routine that eventually led to running half-marathons together (although he always beats me). Exercising together fosters healthy companionship for us.
Companions seek to engage in quality conversation. As defined by Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, quality conversation is "sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context." It is not shallow discussion about the weather. Quality conversation is focused attention that seeks to draw the other person out, hoping to understand his/her thoughts and feelings.
Companions treat one another with respect and appreciation. They recognize each other's uniqueness, embracing differences and similarities. They laugh and cry together, celebrating victory and enduring tragedy.
My niece, Karen, a newlywed, recently shared with me her opinion on the best part of marriage. She said, "It would definitely be the companionship - always having my best friend right there to talk to and have a good time with." They understand the value of sharing life together in their new marriage.
So, how do we ensure we make a good companion? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer in I Corinthians13:4-7 when he describes love:
" Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."