The 1939 play, “The Little Foxes” by Lillian Hellman, was based on Scripture from Song of Solomon 2:15. The foundation of the play can be summed up this way: many times it’s the collection of all the small missteps that get us in trouble. Some marriages with no major problems still get into trouble because of an accumulation of little things. The Bible refers to these issues as the little foxes that ruin the vineyard.
You see, we are usually much better at crisis intervention than we are at regular maintenance. This is because we are a bit lazy, often manifesting as procrastination, so willing and able to ignore or table a small issue until we can give it “more attention.” Work and effort are required to handle these little foxes, and we would rather invest that energy in enjoyable endeavors … fun activities. Or, if we are tackling trouble areas, we’ll invest the energy in bigger issues that have been put off too long, that demand attention now, and ignoring the little core issues that really need our attention.
Make a commitment to pay attention to the little foxes in your marriage: such as being thoughtless or preoccupied, making sarcastic comments, forgetting anniversaries or birthdays, criticizing, always needing to ‘win,’ taking your spouse for granted, and not appreciating the little things they do. These little foxes might seem unimportant, but they can eventually knock a person, a marriage, and ultimately a whole family into the abyss of confusion, frustration, and despair. And it all starts with little, almost imperceptible issues.
Are you letting any foxes loose in your marriage? Are you spending time with your spouse, or has “busy-ness” taken over? Has that luster of wanting to spend every moment with him or her worn off? Remember when you couldn’t take your hands off each other? Remember when you couldn’t hang up because you would miss her voice? Do you really listen to him talk? Do you persist in that little habit that irritates your spouse? With God’s help, identify these little pebbles in your shoe before they become bigger divisive wedges.
For you single people, let me say all of the married people vowed never to let foxes into their vineyard. All have boasted, “That will never happen to me.” But as you see, we all fall prey to the insidious trickery of the sly foxes Satan uses to undermine what God has ordained and blessed. Safeguard your heart and mind now … before you get married. Practice these skills in all your relationships, then you will be better equipped when you enter in the most joyful, demanding, and difficult relationship of your life. When the time comes, you will have a better chance in your marriage. Also, these principles apply not just to marriage, but to every relationship we find ourselves in, especially when you’re a parent.
Today, go on a foxhunt to be sure pesky little patterns or habits aren’t creeping up on you. Replace the destructive little foxes with acts of love and the willingness to put God at the center of the relationship. Address the issue head on. Plan a surprise dinner for two. Buy a sentimental gift. Join your spouse in one of his or her favorite activities … even if it’s not your thing. These little acts of thoughtfulness can help a marriage move forward. Then authentic and difficult discussions can happen and be fruitful. Deeper relational fulfillment can be found. Foxhunting or laying around is your decision, so choose well.
Dear God, Forgive me for how I have acted towards one of the greatest gifts You have given me, my spouse. Marriage is so powerful, but also tricky and complex. Help me become more aware of the “little foxes” that I bring to the marriage … and help me replace them with love as I focus on You. I wish I were a better husband, but with Your love for me, I can channel that love to my wife. I pray this and all prayers in the name of Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! Song of Solomon 2:15
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23