Marriage is a privilege, a gift from God that allows us to reflect the love Christ has for the church.
In our culture oftentimes the most important part of getting married is the wedding itself! Imagine if a vineyard owner spent all his time, attention and money on setting up a great vineyard only to neglect the vines after they’re in the ground? It would be foolish and a wasted investment.
Yet many marriages give more thought to the wedding than they do to the marriage.
In Song of Solomon it says:
“Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV)
A fox doesn’t come and only eat the fruit of the vine–they do much more damage. They like to gnaw on the trunk, dig holes around it and expose the roots. They don’t simply eat the grapes, they like to destroy the entire vine!
So the question begs itself–What foxes are chewing on your marriage vine?
- Fox #1: Unresolved conflict–this includes unforgiveness.
- Fox #2: Uncharitable judgments–not thinking the best, but assuming the worst.
- Fox #3: Neglect
- Fox #4: All work and no play
- Fox #5: Idols of the heart–video games, shopping, children, addicted to work, selfishness, pleasure, etc.
- Fox #6: Lack of purpose
All of the above can cause lasting damage to the marriage if they aren’t caught and dealt with quickly. So how do we trap these little foxes? How do we recognize them in our own marriage?
We have found that the best way to assess the health of our marriage is to examine how we’re relating to each other.
- If there is tension or short responses to each other then there is most likely a fox of unresolved conflict lurking around.
- If you are quick to judge your spouse’s motives as to why they did or didn’t do something before asking them why, then there may be a fox of unforgiveness chewing at your heart.
- If you have not been purposeful in setting aside time alone together either at home, or on regular date nights, then you should look more closely for the fox of neglect.
- Maybe you find your mind constantly going to your job, even when you’re “off”, and it keeps you from being totally “there” for your spouse. You don’t look at them when they speak and you only listen to them halfway. This could be the fox of all work and no play.
- The fox of idols of the heart can be much more difficult to catch. This is because our idols are the things that have not only caught our attention, but our affection. To discover them we must examine where our thoughts go when we have nothing else to think about? Or what do I want to do more than anything else with my free time? Just because we desire to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an idol, but it could be. The only way to know for sure is to ask God to help you discover this little fox. He will be faithful to help you see it.
- The last fox is lack of purpose. He loves to get us to fall asleep in the vineyard, so he can work his damage on the vine. This is why we love this Hot Summer Nights event. If it helps a husband or wife take notice of their marriage in a fresh way, it will do more to chase away the little foxes than anything else can. And it’s fun!
What foxes have you discovered today prowling about your marriage vineyard? We encourage you to do the work necessary to chase them away. If you do, we believe the fruit produced in your vineyard will be not only good today, but make for a great wine that others will enjoy for years to come.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. – Mignon McLaughlin
This post has been featured on the Hot Summer Nights series on the Enter Under My Roof blog
I wasn’t expecting to see anything on this list that I hadn’t already put considerable thought into, but I was surprised because I’d never considered lack of purpose in a list of things that could be eating away at your marriage. It struck me that if you’ve got several “pages” that you need to “get on the same page” with each other, that’s a pretty big one to overlook. Both of you need to have the same sense of purpose for the current season of your marriage as well as the long-term direction of it. I could probably trace a quite a few of the struggles we’ve had over the course of our marriage to working on two different goals in the same season instead of working alongside each other as one.
The analogy that has helped me with this one is that of two oxen yoked together, but trying to go in opposite directions. It simply won’t work, and the harder you try the more pain you’ll create. It’s better by far to stop, regroup where it is you need to go and then work together to get there.
It’s so encouraging to hear our post has helped you clarify an area that you hadn’t seen clearly before.
Well, every time we read the word of God we are illuminated! Our hearts are fed, the soul enlightened, and the spirit is revived! Physically, we become energized and our eyes begin to see anew!
(Addicted to Jesus Christ)
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Thank you for your great advice, but what do i do? I don’t love my husband any longer, we don’t even have sex life nor love life, the marriage is about two years but i am feeling misreable, we have a son, but i think i need a man friend, he is always chatting with his girl friends, we pretend to be in marriage but i know things are not just working out well and i am so confused. I think we made a mistake of getting married at the first time.
Marriage is difficult and many couples realize how hard it is after they’ve been married a couple of years. Knowing this up front helps you fight for your marriage when the feelings subside, because marriage isn’t about how you feel, but about the choices you make. It’s hard when one spouse isn’t showing the same commitment to the relationship as the other, but we have seen God help the spouse wanting to save the marriage. Only He knows what’s needed in your situation. Ask Him, and see if the direction He leads doesn’t bring the help and hope you need.
I’m praying for you.
This should be a huge red-flag alert! A husband ‘always chatting with his girl friends’ would be totally unacceptable for me. Boundaries need to be in place. In addition, you could easily fall into an emotional affair (or worse) where your heart is turned farther from your marriage if you pursue this type of emotional connection with another man instead of your husband.
Great reminder. “This is a huge red-flag alert.” Emotional affairs can be just as devastating to a marriage as a physical one. The attachments don’t tear away easily once you’ve connected on such an intimate level. It’s best to avoid them all together. But when your spouse has done this against you, the best place to run is to God who alone is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving and all-giving. He is the only One who can save what appears to be lost.
Thanks for contributing such an excellent comment!
Fantastic reminders! These are definitely red flags in marriage, and ones we should pay close attention to. I struggle the most with throwing myself into work/play. Sometimes I get so caught up in things even “good things” like my blog, friends, household chores, etc that I forget that my husband needs me to be there for him. This is definitely something I’m working on.
Nice article. Love the information that foxes attack the vine and roots. Also, I love the attention to warning signs. For too many years my marriage had all the warning signs. Thankful for God’s healing.
Thank you. I found this so interesting as well. And that God chose this metaphor to record for us in Scripture is encouraging. We are glad to hear your marriage has been healed despite not seeing the warning signs at first. But God! He makes a way even when we don’t see it right away.
It was good. I believe that it will.help me. I need this I have not been happy. I try to make my self happy thank God and thank you for letting. God use you. God bless you
I know God will work things out for our good!