Have you heard of the allegorical foxes that spoil the vine?
My mother used to quote Song of Songs 2:15 to my brother and me growing up, as part of teaching us how to treat people. She continued to remind me of this verse when my husband Justin and I started butting heads early on in our relationship.
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” ~Song of Songs 2:15 ESV
I got to the point where I hated hearing again about the [insert mocking voice] “little foxes that spoil the vine.” 😉
But as I grew to love the life-changing truths of the Word, I increasingly appreciated the wisdom of this verse.
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The Fable of the Foxes
Let’s suppose for a moment that the vineyard is your marriage relationship. A vineyard bears fruit, so let’s say the fruit on the vine is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control between you and your spouse. Finally, let’s call the foxes the obvious division-makers, such as adultery or physical abuse.
But what about the little foxes? They are the ones we barely tend to pay any attention. Those hurt the marriage, too.
Here are five small foxes that can create extensive damage …
1. The nitpicking fox.
Arguments happen. I get that. However, allow me to give you some advice that someone gave me lots of times, but maybe you’ll catch on sooner: pick your battles. This means you don’t need to start an argument over the little nitpicky issues of life. When your spouse leaves his plate sitting on the table after eating, and it irks you, choose to let it go. However, if your love maxed out the credit card on a whim, then a discussion is probably in order.
2. The unappreciated fox.
Mundane tasks fall to your lot week-in and week-out. It goes a long way to thank the other person. For Christmas this past year, I tucked a thank you card into my husband’s stocking. In it, I listed every tiny task I could think of that he does for our family down to replacing batteries. I even noted solitary occasions such as going to the store late at night for medicine when someone in the family was sick. By the time he finished reading the card, we were both blinking back tears.
3. The second fiddle fox.
The truth about time is you don’t have time but you make time for what’s important to you. If you want a healthy marriage, then your spouse needs to be a priority. Your mate is going to know it if s/he is unimportant to you. Nobody likes to feel like last night’s leftovers. Let your spouse know your relationship matters by keeping a weekly date night, even if it’s in-house.
4. The disrespect fox.
Doesn’t it feel great when you’re asked for your opinion? And even better when your opinion influences the asker? Ask your spouse’s advice. This can be a tough one for the wife that wants to change her husband (been there, done that). Even if you don’t like what the answer is, you can glean from different points of view. Genuinely ask how your other half feels about various matters. If you respond with respect, you will grow closer together.
5. The unvalued fox.
In Bible times, a Roman law stated that a soldier could command a Jew to carry his pack for one mile. Jesus said to take it for two, instead. The longer you’re married to your spouse, the easier it can be to take the other person for granted. Small favors translate into tremendous value. They shout, “You’re valuable to me!” Choose to honor your mate through minor acts of service. e.g., Make his or her side of the bed. It takes three seconds.
These little foxes will damage the love between you and your spouse. Destroy them before they destroy your marriage. Letting go of trivial matters that irk, appreciating your mate, prioritizing time together, honoring, and valuing your spouse will make your marriage relationship strong.
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Kelly R. Baker is a Bible study teacher, writer, and mentor. She serves with her husband in leading the worship ministry at their church. You will probably find her sneaking a bite (or more) of organic dark chocolate in between wrangling her four kids. Her greatest passion is leading women to thrive in Christ. Connect with her at kellyrbaker.com. I (Beth), for one, can tell you, you’ll be glad you did!
What other “little foxes” threaten your relationship?
Which of the five “little foxes” do you struggle with the most?
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Break Through Homeschooling Linkup, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Faith and Friends, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday