Going in to marriage no one ever talks about how difficult it will be to continue living the life you always had before. Please understand that I am not attempting to whine about how I wish I had my old life back and that everything I used to do before I got marriage is what I long for at the end of the day. What I am saying is that the parts of myself that I always was able to keep to myself and not open up to anyone, those parts are coming out.
There was a childhood book I remember my mother reading me called The Mitten. The story is about how in a forest there lies a mitten. The mitten is exaggerated to the point that animal in the forest can find refuge inside the mitten. At first there a fox walking by wishes to solace from the frigid winter air in the warmth the mitten has to offer. Then the fox is met by a rabbit who also wished to find refuge in the comfort of all that the mitten has to offer. Before the fox and the rabbit know it, there are about twenty different animals all inside the mitten. After each new animal enters the mitten the very fabric of the mitten is called into questions - the seams begin to stretch, the fabric is pulled and pushed, the shape begins to morph and change. Until eventually a cute little mouse walks by the mitten. After assessing the excessively crowded mitten, he decides the warmth of the company of the other animals inside the mitten seems far more enticing than the cold snow. So, he climbs in and the mitten explodes sending animals scattered throughout the forest floor. The mouse was the last stitch the mitten could handle.
This is what marriage feels like for me. I tend to find myself pushed and challenged in every conceivable way. I have ugly parts of myself that I want to keep hidden and warm inside the comfort of my personal shelter. Then my marriage requires that I either make room for the stuffing of my spouse or explode at the seams. I sometimes what would happen if I did just let loose and explode all of the forest so to speak. My marriage is challenging everything about me that I have wanted to call "resolved" or "figured out" or "dealt with." What I am learning on a daily basis is that no matter how hard I try to stay the same, my marriage demands that I grow, stretch, and take on a new shape. If I am not willing to work with these demands, then it is inevitable that my marriage will explode.
I am no marriage expert and when I think about my perception of marriage, in some way, I feel comforted by image of the mitten in the forest. There is a lot in me and my spouse and our marriage, but I take comfort in knowing that no matter what, our stiches will withhold the storm. That is what I think our pastor meant when we said I WILL to being there through the good times and the bad - busting seams and all.