Why did the Almighty create marriage? Wouldn't it be easier and more convenient if He made us sexless, or able to reproduce by pollination like some plants, or at least without the yearning to settle into families?
Or, without wandering into the realm of science fiction, why couldn't He make marriage easier? About one third to one half of all couples (the statistics differ around the world, but nevertheless, compared to previous generations the number is astounding) end up in the divorce court. How many of those couples explain they drifted apart while using the vague term of "incompatibility"?
There is such a matter as compatibility. Yet I'm convinced that in some, perhaps many cases, what people label as "incompatibility" can be more accurately described as "inconvenience". How so?
The Almighty did not design marriage so we could have an easy time. Should my spouse love and accept me as I am? Yes, but it doesn't mean we're not supposed to be challenged to improve ourselves. In Hebrew, it's called "tikkun midot", which can be roughly translated as working on one's character.
My husband is not "convenient" to live with. A marriage of convenience would allow me to continue with my old ways, to fall into my old habits. To continue spending my life in a comfort zone. But my husband is just right for me in the area of "tikkun midot", because he challenges me to improve precisely in the areas that want improvement. I'm challenged to develop in ways that have previously been neglected.
My husband makes me confront my fears and doubts. He makes me double-check old, long-formed opinions. With him, I'm motivated to do a great deal of soul-searching. It isn't convenient. It is often painful. But it is so important for my growth as a human, as a woman, and a child of God. I feel I have grown so much in the year we have been married.
Am I "losing myself", then? Yes, probably. I'm losing my old self, as I'm most definitely not the person I used to be. My husband is losing his old self too, and we are both molding and changing as we meet new curves along the road - of marriage, family, motherhood, fatherhood.
It's a winding road, and sometimes there are bumps. Sometimes we can't just fall back in our seats and relax. Sometimes we must teach ourselves to hold on to keep from falling. And this holding on, I'm convinced, is a big part of what tikkun midot is all about.
Edit: It turns out Karen wrote a post about married life too, and a very interesting one.