As a nationally certified and licensed professional counselor, Janis helps her clients resolve relationship conflicts and trust issues.
Companionship: A Prospect of Uncertainty for Some
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Genesis 2:18 (ESV)
As stated in the book of Genesis, we were not meant to be alone as individuals. We were not placed on Earth to live in isolation but to interact and share our lives with others.
Ideally, a couple should enjoy life in harmony, as a team, sharing their hopes, dreams, and goals with the intent of living a long life together, happily ever after. Having someone to share a common faith, the good times and the bad times, can enhance quality of life, giving more meaning to one's existence.
But the day-to-day irritations of being in a relationship can cause couples to question the prospect of staying in a long term relationship. When those irritations increase, it can make living as a team very difficult, in spite of their strong faith. The disadvantages begin to outweigh the advantages, casting a shadow over the couple's ability to see a future of lifetime partnership.
"A career is wonderful but, you can't curl up with it on a cold night."
— Marilyn Monroe
Companionship for Life
Lifetime Partnership: What Is It Good For?
When the disadvantages of being in a relationship become burdensome, it's easy to forget one of the primary reasons for being together in the first place - to build a long term partnership with a special companion who will be there as you get older, to support you and have your back.
The list below speaks to themes that are characteristic of what makes a long term relationship strong. Each concept presents an advantage to ponder as a reminder of why it's important to build and nurture a lifetime partnership with someone who is considered a companion for life.
Fostering companionship between two people has its advantages and will ensure a happier life and enriched existence into later years.
- Conversation with Continuity
- Sharing a Laugh
- The Feeling of Someone Having Your Back
- Through Thick and Thin
- "Lean on Me" for Support
- Shared Finances and Household Responsibilities
- Health Concerns, Emergencies, and Need for Medical Assistance
- Sharing Faith - Praying for and with Each Other
- Intimacy with Familiarity Builds Continuity and Trust
- "Remember When" - Shared Memories
"Having someone wonder where you are when you don't come home at night is a very old human need."
— Margaret Mead
Couples Cherish Their Quality Time
"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."
— Mark Twain
Ten Advantages of Having a Partner for Life
1. Conversations With Continuity
Communication is key to the success of any relationship. Listening intently, using the right tone of voice, and having empathy for what the other person is saying are all characteristic of good communication skills.
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But the ability to have a conversation with a longtime companion is an invaluable gift.
Overtime, you can learn each other's communication styles and thinking patterns to the point of finishing each other's sentences.
This builds a continuity of conversation only shared with friends and couples who have been together for a long time.
2. Sharing a Laugh
It's fun to joke around and have a special companion with whom you laugh so hard your side hurts. Acting silly and having goof ball moments of intimacy provide priceless pockets of joy in a relationship. It does the soul good to share humor and break free of the heavy-duty issues that can cloud the forward progress of growth and blessings of a long term relationship.
3. The Feeling of Someone Having Your Back
There is no better feeling than knowing that a "safety net" exists for you in the form of a person upon whom you can depend.
When someone says, "I got your back," you believe it and immediately feel secure in knowing you will be supported and backed for your decisions and opinions, no matter what happens.
A long term companion provides that unique type of friendship and emotional security.
4. Through Thick and Thin
The longer you stay together, the more likely it is that as partners, you've been through and endured a lot together. It is common for couples to express a heightened feeling of closeness after surviving a crisis or loss. As a couple grows together, they begin to value even more, the strength of companionship during hard times, with the intent of being there for the long haul. It makes the good times that much sweeter.
Partners Share Committed Companionship
5. "Lean on Me" for Support
Receiving emotional support from the person who is closest to you is a key advantage of being in a long term relationship. Exposing personal vulnerabilities is a risky feat, even when done in confidence with a therapist.
But having a close companion who knows your history and weaknesses, providing that shoulder upon which to lean and cry, is a comforting advantage of long term companionship.
6. Shared Finances and Household Responsibilities
When a couple shares responsibilities, it makes life a lot easier. Household chore designation, negotiating finances, and parenting duties are three common areas of contention between individuals in a relationship or marriage.
However, if couples make an effort over time to work together toward a happy medium, they will eventually see the advantage of having a partner with whom to share the burdens of daily responsibilities.
It takes time, patience, and respect of each other's differences to develop a partnership out of which the balance in making a happy home life will be achieved. The longer you work at it, the more likely it will work out.
Regardless of the conflicts, two incomes, along with two heads to make decisions, are better than one.
Companions Assist Each Other When in Need
7. Health Concerns, Emergencies, and Need for Medical Assistance
One of the realities of getting older is being confronted with health challenges, changes in physical strength and mobility, and an acceptance of coming into one's twilight years. These realities cause us to ask,
- "Who can I count on if I need to get to the doctor?"
- "Who will be available to me in the case of an emergency?"
- "Who will be there when I wake up from surgery?"
- "Who will be by my side when I can no longer fend for myself?"
These are questions and circumstances we take for granted when we're young, vital, and single. A trusted companion will be there in times of need and emergencies as the probability of need increases with age.
8. Sharing Faith - Praying Together
The spiritual connection a couple shares can enrich their relationship on so many levels. Couples who share similar religious values, beliefs, or a common faith have a closeness that is informed by their relationship with God as individuals and as a couple.
Prayer is a powerful tool for couples to employ for getting through tough times and for giving thanks for blessings received. Praying together can strengthen the bond between partners and enhance a deeply meaningful companionship.
An Intimate Moment for a Couple
9. Intimacy With Familiarity Builds Continuity and Trust
Having a partner with whom you are comfortable and familiar optimizes intimacy. After a while, the closeness between two people should grow and become very sacred.
The more time you spend with your partners, the better you know what their needs are, which in turn will increase efforts to please them.
The quality of physical, emotional, and sexual intimacy will increase over time as trust builds with continuity. This is an often unspoken gift only a long term relationship can provide.
10. "Remember When" - Shared Memories
Creating memories with a long term companion is a critical part of building imagery upon which a couple can look back together and reminisce about the good times.
Even if dementia becomes a challenge in later life, sharing old pictures of times together can serve as a way to value the relationship and connect to the past.
Listening to favorite music or "our song" can elicit recollections of significant occasions shared. Be it a vacation spot, honeymoon pictures, a favorite "first time" moment, or birthday celebrations, re-living the many fun times provides proof of the richness of the relationship. The longer the companionship, the more memories to share as you, "remember when."
Older Companions Cherish Each Other's Company
Research: Married People Are Happier and Live Longer
Why Companionship is Good for Your Health
Studies have shown that the longer two people have been together as a couple, the more they report being healthier and feeling happier.
It appears that successful relationships, particularly marriages, include characteristics like respect, physical and emotional intimacy and good communication.
Research also suggests that married people live longer and are healthier than single people.
The characteristics and interactions between the couple attributing to this fact include:
- Engaging in safer behavior
- Having a constant social connection to a partner
- Support for dealing with medical and health concerns
In summary, married couples are more likely to refrain from activities that would put them at risk, e.g., self-destructive behaviors or substance abuse.
Married couples have an on-going social connection to each other which keeps them engaged and active.
And, regarding good health, married couples provide support to each other to participate in obtaining healthcare needs, e.g., reminders to take medications and keep medical appointments.
Companionship Enriches the Life of the Couple
Do You Enjoy Companionship?
It appears that enough evidence exists to support that long term companionship has its advantages. The ten advantages of having a lifetime partner listed above offer couples some food for thought when contemplating the importance of building long term relationships.
Although the research refers mainly to married couples, the significance of having companionship can apply to any couple who has established a commitment to each other.
Making an investment in a relationship, whether married, living together, civilly bound, or having a deep and abiding friendship, often involves a special companionship. This companionship, for the long term, can be very enriching to one's life, proving that, in the end, we were not meant to be alone.
Sources on Happier Marriages and Better Health in Long Term Relationships
- Benefits of Marriage and Long-Term Relationships
WebMD talks to experts about the possible health benefits of marriage and other long-term relationships
© 2014 Janis Leslie Evans