Enjoy togethernessPublished 11:43am Monday, December 3, 2012
Although the book I was reading is truly engaging and I was deeply engaged in it, another thought captured my mind and carried me with it. This was such a simple thing as recalling that in the evening Ann and I would be doing something we have often done. What created reflection was not the activity per se but how much we would be enjoying doing it together. It was the thought and feeling of togetherness that got me to thinking.
The more I have thought about such experiences, the more I have enhanced my expressions of encouragement to others. For instance, people will tell me they would take a trip, and I have responded sincerely, Well, enjoy yourselves. I now make an effort to put it, Enjoy the trip, but more important: enjoy each other.
I pulled out a notepad and penciled out my thoughts, which I offer here. Admittedly, the immediate occasion was my own marital relationship, and my immediate conscious application was, then, to other married couples. I think this is natural, because the relationship of husband and wife I consider the ultimate of all human relationships. Failure of this is more harmful than in other relations, and success is infinitely more productive.
However, the yet broader application is to any interpersonal relationship, e.g., parent/child, siblings, grandparents/grandchildren, neighbors, business associates, school friends, just friends. I think in this not of mere social acquaintances or general friendliness, but of soul mates and kindred spirits in any relationships.
I think even of people of the same gender who have chosen to partner in a life-time relationship, whether they live together. I do not see such as requiring sexual expression to experience the togetherness of which I think, and I do not think they should. But if such should be their choice, I want them also to experience genuine togetherness. Sexual behavior alone is not what creates wholesome togetherness, regardless of the gender mix. Without a bonding togetherness, the wildest sex is only enjoyed momentarily.
So, please set aside, for the moment, whatever the interpersonal relationship you most desire, and consider with me the essence of togetherness.
In a relationship, it is not necessary we enjoy all the same things. It is necessary we enjoy enough of the same things and enjoy them together regularly. The real value is not so much that these are things we enjoy, but that we enjoy them together and that we enjoy enjoying them together. As the relationship grows, we enjoy doing anything as long as it is together. We sustain a healthy relationship when one is cheerfully willing to do something that to him is not enjoyable precisely because it is enjoyable to the other. The enjoyment of the togetherness trumps everything else.
We are truly bonded when we can do mutually unenjoyable things as long as they are done together. The enjoyment is yet greater when doing mutually unenjoyable things together does not make them enjoyable but renders them less unenjoyable and now endurable.
We know we have arrived at a lasting togetherness when we can hang wallpaper without killing each other.
This intensity of relationship and level of enjoyment is neither natural nor automatic. It is not routine or habitual, but conscious and intentional. It must be chosen, conceived, acknowledged, nourished, nurtured, worked and protected.
While most of the away-from-home time occurred during the quarter of my 43 years of military service prior to my marriage, the army took me away from my wife for extended deployments just twice. The first was hard on our honeymoon and the other did not come until 28 years later. Although I thought at the time I could not live through the first, it was relatively easy because we had not yet become one. By the second time, we were so very much one that 3,000 miles was not able to separate us.
When all the children have moved from home, we are not left alone. We are together.
When physical togetherness has matured to an existential or spiritual relationship, we do not need to do anything together or anything at all to enjoy our togetherness because it is there. When the time comes — and it does — when we are absent one from another (whether for moments or years), we will remain together because we are together. It is then that what we have done together brightens and energizes our minds and refreshes and warms our hearts.
We are together and together forever.