Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while
our vineyards are in blossom.
Song of Solomon 2:15
Valentine's Day is the special day in America when lovers express their love for each other. Dating couples really look forward to Valentine's Day. Sadly for many married couples, the love was stronger, more passionate and more exciting before they got married. As the song laments, "You've lost that loving feeling." Why does marriage so often seem to do that to love?
In the Song of Solomon, God tells us to beware the "little foxes" that can easily get into the vineyard of love and eat up all the fruit, leaving the relationship barren and ruined. What are the little foxes in marriage that we need to catch and remove from the vineyard?
1. Selfishness. At the core of our fallen nature, there is selfishness - "I want what I want when I want it." For marriage to be successful and satisfying, selfishness must be caught and cast out. You cannot have a great marriage if you are looking to your spouse to make you happy. Another human being cannot do that.
Often husbands and wives adopt a "tic" attitude in marriage: "I am going to feed off my spouse." Marriage has been humorously defined as "two tics and no dog." You and I must get our satisfaction and fulfillment from Jesus. He is the only one who can meet the needs of our heart. Once we realize that, we are free to see our mate NOT as someone who is there to meet our needs, but someone who is there so we can meet their needs.
2. Unconscious Neglect. This so often happens soon after we marry. We unconsciously quit doing the things we did when we dated... when we built our love relationship. We quit talking and listening and spending quality time together. We get busy with work and the kids and the pressures and the hectic pace of life... and we quit focusing on the relationship.
*A man is to focus on loving his wife. God commands a husband to love his wife (commanded three times in Eph. 5). Men, it is not enough to say you love her, she must FEEL you love her. That is the only way that your love truly counts in her mind. Does she FEEL it from you? Does she FEEL nourished and cherished? Does she FEEL like the most important person in your life outside of Jesus Christ? NEWSFLASH: She felt loved when you dated...so start dating her again. Talk to her, include her, help her around the house, call her from work, send her notes, and buy her little gifts that let her know she is on your mind. You will be amazed at how she will respond when she FEELS loved.
*A woman is to focus on respecting her husband. In the same chapter where God commands a man to love his wife, He commands a woman to respect her husband (Eph. 5:33). Listen ladies, in every man there is a 10 year old boy who longs to be noticed, cheered and bragged on. You respected him when you dated... so don't stop when you are married. Focus on building him up with your attitude, actions and words. Quit tearing him down with you little barbs and snide comments. A wife is to a husband what a wind is to a fire: she can fan him up... or blow him out. Which one are you doing?
3. Unresolved Conflict. Conflict is inevitable in marriage. You know why? Because, men, you married a sinner... and she married a bigger one! Put two sinners together and you will have conflict. For a marriage to survive and thrive, couples must share their hurts with one another... and seek and grant forgiveness. Marriages die on the vine everyday... and the main culprit is unresolved conflict. Remember, all hurt eventually turns to anger. And anger that is not properly dealt with ("Don't let the sun go down on your anger" Eph. 4:26) turns to resentment and bitterness. Once bitterness sets into a marriage, you are on the road to unhappiness, disillusionment and possible divorce if you don't get it out.
I want to encourage you to go fox hunting today. If you will rid your vineyard of love of these three little foxes, you will find the passion, excitement and thrill that have been AWOL. God is all for us having an awesome marriage... and "if God be for us, who can be against us!"
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.