Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.
Last weekend, my husband and I left the kids behind with my parents and took off for a long hike, just the two of us. The weather was threatening — 49 degrees, windy, with bouts of downpour. We went anyway, taking our time over a leisurely breakfast at a local café before hitting the trails. We hike regularly with our children, but without them, we expected to spend less time collecting rocks and cover some real mileage. As our anniversary outing, it seemed like a good idea to reflect a little on our journey together over the last six years of marriage. Maybe the weather wasn’t so coincidental after all given that on our wedding day, it hailed and thundered. I’ve always regarded that as a sign of incredible luck.
When we approached the summit of our climb, my husband found a trail called “The Labyrinth,” a rock scramble that he eagerly wanted to try. This is not my forte. I read a lot, so I know that minotaurs typically inhabit labyrinths, and while I’m athletic, I’m more of a well-marked-trail kind of gal than a scrambler. But I went along, because my husband goes along with a whole lot for me, and we clambered into “The Labyrinth.” It didn’t take us long to figure out that the route was intentionally indirect, designed to encourage travelers to crawl through tunnels, climb narrow (and slippery) ladders, and slide down boulders past gaping crevices. It also didn’t take us long to figure out that we needed to stay close to each other. Between my fear of heights and his color blindness, I often wanted his steadying hand and he couldn’t see the trail markers without me. I think it’s called the colorblind leading the uptight. Or something like that.
It didn’t take us long, either, to feel like “The Labyrinth” served as a more-than-adequate metaphor for marriage: an unknown trail with unpredictable weather fraught with obstacles. The trail required us to work together, to stay within an arm’s reach of the other, and to set our pace as a couple, not as individuals. The rocks themselves obstructed our view, so we set small goals (one hurdle at a time), without knowing the next turn or challenge. We followed a steady pattern of assessing the trail, working together through it, and taking a deep breath at the end of each trial. It felt, in so many ways, like a physical manifestation of our wedding vows, the promise to stick together and help each other, never knowing at the trailhead whether we’re in for poverty or prosperity, sickness or health. And never sure how long we get to hang on to each other.
“The Labyrinth” challenged and invigorated us, reminding us what every married couple needs to bear in mind: that in marriage, two become one, and the trail and the pace must change to accommodate a new creation. My husband and I are not the same people who got married six years ago, and I can only hope and imagine where the next six (and, I hope, the next sixty) will take us. I just love knowing that when I slide down a boulder and my feet can’t get purchase, his warm hand is there to support me and his gentle voice rises to encourage me. I teased him about taking me on an “anniversary trust test” at one point, but really, in marriage, every morning is a new test of trust and faith and fidelity. All we can do each day is thank the Lord for new mercies, assess the trail, work through it, and take a deep breath together. Because if you’re lost in a rocky obstacle course being buffeted by wind and rain, it’s good to have a friend.