Naming that small fox

This weekend I got to read and be encouraged by a blog post and it made me reflect further on my own life.

A wise woman builds her house, does not destroy it with her own hands. 

A seed of doubt was planted many seasons ago in my heart. In darkness and humidity, it sprouted slowly. The small fox that Song of Solomon 2:15 talks about, the one the created havoc just by jumping the fence, the joke about leaving one another, for a trivial reason, that fox frolicked in my garden too. I became aware of it only later, oh how much damage it had created. That seed of doubt, or pride or way out paved by the insecurity of my husband. I told him what his joke meant to me, though it sounded harmless and complimentary. “Did you finally leave me?” He would ask if I was late to come back from any errands in town. He said it was his way of coping with the fact that he feels he doesn’t deserve me, and that one day I will wake up and realize how much better I am without him. This fear has haunted him since we got married. As we moved back to California together he was afraid that the truth that he is nothing special, and there are thousands of young men there, all foreign to me, that I will leave him. The thought never crossed my mind. I had been to California. Nobody impressed me like he did. He is true and brave and clever, he is humble and determined, funny and so loving. 

We had talked about this, including his deep seated fear, even though his parents and grandparents never divorced, neither did mine, he worried that I would leave him. 

Life hit us hard. We had talked about having kids from our second date. And the truth that we can’t have kids became aparent after 5 years of marriage. There was no treatment. My husband was sterile. But my husband was a part of me. Who would I be if I pursued parenthood apart from him. We decided then to adopt. But I often think of the time of great temptation to part ways. We each had our careers and fulfillment in different areas. What kept me grounded was a promise I made, a vow, in front of God. And that one does not abandon another in sickness. Not with the heart, not with the mind, not with the body. 

As cancer reoccured years later, I worried about the future. Would I be an untimely widow? On one hand the thought of our limited time on earth, our finitude, made me appreciate my husband even more. But then, the dullness of life, the short irritations, the parenting demands, the extra responsibility, instead of sharing equally, I felt burdened with worrying about my husband’s health and helping him navigate the medical system. 

This fox, the little fox that entertained the thought of independence in my marriage, I let it lay, let it make its next in my garden. It didn’t destroy anything except in undermined my joy. I was able to address, with shame and concern, for what havoc it would create if I tried to catch it, by sharing this thought with my husband. This nagging dark thought: would we be better off separate? He talks about like in a different city, or what would America look like for us, but he wouldn’t go even to visit his parens without me. He never traveled home without me. In my thirst for independence, I have suggested he would go visit on his own. It would be definitely more economical. But his answer was a definite no. 

I worried that I would worry and hurt him if I brought up this nagging thought of separation. He listened quietly. He explained why he made the “leave him” joke… a way of coping with his insecurity. As I shared my heart and then there was silence, he asked “is there more?” Not with impatience. But with the most inviting warm tone. It melted my heart. It impressed me to my core. It stuck with me. A fog had lifted. I named that sly fox of doubt. Even when everything seems to be going smoothy, little foxes pop from out of nowhere. This is a silly one. Discussing it brought us further closeness. May we have the courage and curiosity to pursue closeness with the one right next to us. And not let doubt push us apart.