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The Company We Keep

August 25, 2017

Another Way for week of August 25, 2017

The Company We Keep

My husband left me in early August to go on a work trip to West Virginia to help rebuild a home after the floods of June 2016. You may recall the one that forced the closing of the Greenbrier Resort in those parts. Now that my husband is retired, he was happy to be invited to join some volunteers with Brethren Disaster Ministries.

While packing, we realized he had never gone away without me, except for two trips to attend funeral services for two of his aunts in North Carolina and Mississippi, where he traveled with his brothers. My oldest daughter also joined them for the North Carolina trip. I have traveled on my own many times—either for business or to visit family when he wasn’t able to take off work. Once he traveled by train to Indiana for my grandmother’s funeral, when the girls and I left two days before he was able to get away.

He did NOT fly to West Virginia, but this is an example of adventures we have enjoyed TOGETHER.

So we both kind of looked forward to the experience of him trying his wings with a volunteer trip, and me looking after the garden, the pets, the summer harvesting and canning, and still working full time. I will have to say I have new appreciation for all the times he held down the fort at home with me off to parts unknown for days, weekends, and at times full weeks–and even one three-week jaunt. For many of these, he was also daddy in charge of children at home, although sometimes I took one or more with me. He did try to keep up with the garden but, no, he’s never done canning on his own.

I have a new appreciation for widows, divorced folks and singles who live by themselves all the time. The house seemed awfully empty; it is easy to feel lonely and overwhelmed.

If you follow my column at all, you know, however, that I am more of a loner and introvert, while my husband has never met a stranger. You may even recall me sharing the story of me warning him—a day into our honeymoon—that I like to be alone at times. He never thought that was a very good way to begin a honeymoon. And I was just aiming for honesty in our relationship. (My timing was not great.)

On our honeymoon, Myrtle Beach SC, enjoying each other’s company a great deal!

When I called my mother the first day he was gone, she said, “Oh! You’ll enjoy not having to cook supper.” And that I did. The first night I had a glorified egg sandwich (kind of an omelet with salsa in it, that Stuart would not have loved.) The next night I picked up a frozen package of fettuccini and broccoli (not his fav dish) to microwave, along with some fresh sweet corn from the garden. My schedule was freer. I had fewer interruptions. I didn’t, ahem, need to do quite so much straightening up.

But even the very first morning, when I was just hopping out of the shower and the dog barked for no good reason, I quickly locked the bedroom door, just in case. I was a little jumpy anytime the dog barked, but my dog is a little jumpy like that, sometimes barking for no good reason.

Yet by the end of the first day, I was definitely missing him more than I thought I would. After years of living with and loving someone, you miss the camaraderie, the friendship, the playful flirting, the having someone else in the house. The missing him felt good.

Of course I appreciated some things. I adored the quiet: no TV, just the sounds of country birds and insects. But I didn’t miss him on a trip to town to do errands. I could do just what I wanted and NOT have to go to Harbor Freight or Lowe’s. Instead, I went dress shopping for my niece’s September wedding.

The old adage goes, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” You appreciate each other more after time apart; perhaps you take each other less for granted. I think that is what I was trying to tell him long ago on our honeymoon. But now I better understand the bond of long term togetherness—and the sometimes forlorn feeling when a spouse goes away. And how good it is to have more appreciation for the company we keep, for what you have together.


And thank you, sweetheart, for allowing me to share our lives here and elsewhere.


If you are married, what do you miss when you are apart?


If you’ve already lost your mate, what would you add to these reflections?

For my free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage,” write to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850. Send one standard U.S. postage stamp for each booklet requested.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.



  1. I enjoyed this; thanks. My husband and I love one another, but one of our favorite things to say is, “How can I miss you if you never go away?”

  2. From 1985 until around 2010 Cliff was gone from home doing art and music performances during the school year. That’s twenty-five years of saying goodbye for 1 – 2 weeks at a time. Usually he flew home on weekends.

    As you know from my blog, my huband and I have a close, caring relationship. Looking back, I can make two observations: 1. He had a unique ministry in public schools, so I steeled myself so I could support a calling we both fervently believed in. 2. As a professor, I could get involved in numerous academic projects, including presenting at conferences, that I possibly may not have attempted were he home more. And a third: Relief from the grind of daily meal preparation.

    Thanks for posting this. What a noble cause, helping in an disaster!

    • Yes to the daily grind relief! And what a wonderful ministry–sounds like he pursued it mostly after the children were established and you weren’t changing diapers at least? I can also understand how his trips made your trips feel reasonable and “deserved.”

      For Stuart, this new personal tie to Brethren Disaster Service is giving him motivation to contribute even more than we might have for the current disaster playing out in Texas. And he hopes to go help in a personal way when the time comes that he could be of service.

      Thanks for sharing as usual, Marian.

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