3 keys to a healthy, growing marriageby Mark Smith, Faith at Home
“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” — Song of Songs 2:15
When Solomon lovingly said these words to his beloved, he was using beautiful imagery to point out how small things can cause big problems. The same is true in our marriages when small things are left unattended.
Small foxes were a menace to a vineyard. If gardeners were not proactive, these little pests would sneak into vineyards and instinctively sharpen their teeth by gnawing the base of plants. What appeared to be insignificant scratches would, over time, kill the vine. If left unchecked, a fox could wipe out an entire vineyard.
In his wisdom, Solomon teaches that allowing small annoyances to add up can cause big problems in a marriage. For instance, you are irritated with your spouse for constantly making you late for events, or perhaps you are weary of your spouse’s short temper. Whatever the issue, these minor frustrations later grow into major obstacles unless couples take Solomon’s advice.
This year for Valentine’s Day, instead of buying flowers and candy, why not go on a “little fox” hunt. One way couples can deliberately “catch the little foxes” is by opening the lines of communication and practicing the “3 Ds of marriage."
Dialogue is two-way communication. Couples should set aside a few minutes each day to have a one-on-one conversation with only each other. That means you may need to tell your children that both mom and dad need some time to talk to each other without any interruptions. Couples should also take time to pray with each other every day. Just before a meal, over the phone or as you are going to bed, take a few minutes to pray about an issue or just pray, giving the Lord praise. It is simple, it is easy and it is bonding.
Every couple needs some time out alone weekly. A meal, a movie or a walk allows time to reconnect and reestablish the relationship without the interruption of anyone else. I know this suggestion can be difficult because of finances for some families. However, the last time I checked, taking a walk, sitting on the deck or cuddling in bed does not cost a penny. Set aside some alone time with your spouse to bond. This pays very big dividends in the end.
Getting out of town for an afternoon or overnight has great benefits mentally and physically. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. When couples take time to get away together, they are able to renew their commitment to each other. If this is difficult because you have young children, maybe you could get a babysitter, take them to a grandparent’s house or bribe a teenager. Whatever you need to do, this renewal allows you to keep the spark alive in your marriage.
Couples who have children need to realize they are modeling for their kids today what their sons or daughters could carry into their own marriages tomorrow. When couples exhibit this attitude, they are putting real love on display that encourages an authentic environment of spiritual growth.
Editor’s note: Mark Smith serves as the senior consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Faith at Home ministry.