Solomon spoke of “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NIV). Little foxes are the little annoyances in a relationship that can lead to big problems if not dealt with in a timely fashion.
A friend once told me, “Most marriages don’t die from a stab wound to the heart. They bleed to death from a thousand little paper cuts.” Granted, there are exceptions, such as when an affair has set off a nuclear bomb in a relationship. But when we hear of couples saying, “We grew apart,” the odds are that they had allowed “little foxes” to run freely in their vineyard.
Beware of the little foxes of sarcasm, criticism, and faultfinding.
Banish the fox of scorekeeping: Keep no record of wrong.
Beat complacency with a stick: express gratitude, appreciation and affection liberally. Work to keep romance alive.
Years ago I sat in a counselor’s office and mapped out the issues I thought needed working on. She suggested that I might want to add anger to my list, specifically, anger towards my husband. She said, “It sounds to me that you stuff your anger, rather than sharing those feelings with him.” I assured her, “Oh, Jon hears about it when I’m angry.”
She had me complete a “Checklist For Hidden Anger.” B-I-N-G-O. (Click here to see how you measure up.) My assignment that week was to pay attention to the times I felt angry as the result of things Jon said or did – or did not say or do. I had to identify the resulting feeling i.e. frustrated, irritated, furious, hurt, etc. When I shared the examples with my counselor, she asked, “Did you share those feelings with Jon?” In almost every situation, the answer was, “No.”
My reasons for not expressing my feelings revolved around my concern for his anticipated response: I didn’t want him to feel hurt, angry or discouraged. Whatever the reason for stuffing my anger, my emotional dishonesty led to an emotional distancing from Jon and a build up of resentment. It also resulted in the compulsive overeating that brought me into counseling in the first place.
Fear of intimacy is the fear that people will reject you if you honestly reflect on the outside what you are feeling and thinking on the inside. As hard as it was for me to share feelings with Jon, he was always open to talking through the issue with me. Once I learned to deal with my feelings in a healthy way, I was able to succeed in overcoming my compulsive overeating.
Jon saw the changes in me and decided to enter counseling himself. As a child of alcoholic parents, he struggled with many of the same issues I did. He had a fear of anger and angry people. No wonder we avoided anger like the plague.
It’s important for me to say here that Jon and I had a good marriage. We truly loved, respected and cherished each other. We were great partners in parenting. We loved and served God together. We would have never intentionally done anything to hurt the other. However, there were “little foxes” afoot in our marriage. Once they were dealt with…we had a great marriage.
Are there any “little foxes” in your marriage? Is it time to shake the bushes in your vineyard and send them packing?
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Ask God to reveal any “little foxes” afoot in your marriage. Then pray for wisdom, courage and willingness to deal with them. Get professional input if needed.
Kathy Ptaszek (pronounced tay-zack) loves people and is known for her warmth and the ability to connect with audiences of all ages. She has spoken to thousands of women at retreats, as well as community and church events throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado for over 40 years.
Change and loss have been a part of Kathy’s journey. Her husband Jon died in 1991, leaving her to single-parent their daughters, Aimee and Molly, who were ages 11 and 13 at the time. Through it all, she is convinced of the goodness and sovereignty of God. Kathy has a wonderful blog full of encouragement over at Holy Ground All Around.
CedarCreek MOMentum exists to connect mothers in all seasons by encouraging and supporting them, while guiding their hearts toward Christ.
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