I (Tom) am currently reading an excellent book by Mark and Grace Driscoll titled, Real Marriage – the truth about sex, friendship and life together. I highly recommend it.
This morning I read about Song of Solomon 2:15 and “the little foxes that spoil the vines.”
In a vineyard there is the potential for beauty, wonder, and life. But, the vineyard must be cultivated, weeds must be pulled, and foxes must be kept out. A Christian winemaker in Napa Valley explained that it takes many years, even decades, of tender care to raise a mature and fruitful vine. She said that keeping large animals out of her vineyard was easier than keeping out small animals that could sneak in. In particular, she said, small animals like foxes were particularly dangerous because they gnawed on the root of healthy vines, thereby killing the entire plant and robbing its harvest after years of investment. The key to a harvest of fruitfulness, fidelity, oneness, love, and joy is to catch the little foxes that creep into your marital vineyard. (page 159)
What things irritate you about your spouse? These are the “little foxes” in your marriage. The key to preventing the foxes from harming your vine is to deal with these irritants when they begin. How do you do this? By examining your own heart. You can’t change your spouse, but you can change how you react to their shortcomings? They can’t make you respond sinfully, they simply reveal what’s been in your heart all along.
Our pastor shares the analogy of the coke bottle often. Basically it goes like this: if there is coke in the bottle and it’s shaken, when the top is removed the entire contents are going to spew all over the place making a mess. However, if the bottle is empty, it doesn’t matter how long or hard you shake it, when the top is removed nothing will come out.
So it is with our hearts. As we deal with what’s inside us, we will see lasting change in our relationship.
As a help Grace illustrates what the little foxes look like in their own marriage:
Foxes for me include name-calling, strong language, having an all-or-nothing attitude, using discouraging words, being preoccupied on the computer or phone while we are talking, and being unthankful. Mark is working on having better self-control, waiting and praying before responding, asking questions before making assumptions, listening more often, and being more grateful for the “little” things I do. (page 160)
After reading this list, what little foxes are trying to spoil your marriage vineyard? Don’t delay, for each moment they’re allowed to gnaw away at the root of your marriage, the more damage they will do.