Building a Better Marriage: Tool #3 Catching Foxes

A few weeks ago I was super busy. It was a mixture of work, meeting with friends and not to mention everybody in my house, with the exception of me, has the summer off.

My kids are hilarious. Even as they get older, the concept that they have the summer off and I still have to work, completely eludes them. “Dad, do you have to go to work tomorrow?” “Yes son, I do.” “Don’t they know its summer time?” he says. “I think they are aware. I hate to break this to you but adults don’t get the summer off.” “That sucks!” my son tells me. “Yeah, it kinda does. Welcome to adulthood!”

I hate being “that guy” when it comes to conversations like that. “I know you enjoy your life son and that summer is one big party…but just wait until you are an adult. No summers, no ice cream, no recess and no laughter. Have fun while you can.” Wah waaaaaaah. Debbie Downer.

But the truth is, when you become an adult you have a lot of responsibilities. There are things that you absolutely HAVE to do. You have to pay taxes, you have to mow the yard, you have to go to work, you have to take the kids to school, you have to pay the bills and at some point you are expected to bathe. I have found that on certain weeks, that last one is optional.

The really unfortunate part of what I just said is that the things you “have to” do sometimes crowd out the things you “should be” doing. I should be spending quality time with my kids, I should be reading more, I should be working out and I should be building a better marriage with my spouse. If we are not careful, the things we “have to” do will convince us that we have no time left for the things we “should be” doing. I know…wah waaaaah. Debbie Downer again.

Here’s a truth we all know but seldom practice, we make time for the things that are important to us. There have been a plethora, yes I quoted “Three Amigos” just now, of times that I had the time to work out but I convinced myself I was too tired. I have also had extra time to sit face to face with my kids and do a puzzle or play a board game and I chose to catch up on season three of “Stranger Things”. At times, I’ve had the urge to write and instead I played “Cody Cross” on my phone. For the uninitiated, Cody Cross is a word puzzle app on my phone that I simultaneously recommend and discourage you from getting all in the same breath.

It stands to reason, if I have done those things, there have been other times when I could have been intentional about my time with my wife and I have not. Intentionality is one of the best tools that you have to build a better marriage. When intentionality is not a part of your marriage, what happens to you in life begins to shape your marriage. It can be good things and bad things. If life is going well, your marriage is going well. When things take a bad turn, your marriage will reflect that.

My hope for your marriage, as well as mine, is that we are intentional about building a marriage that thrives and survives.

There is a quirky verse in the Bible that I love. If I’m being totally above board, I love things that are offbeat and strange in general.

Here it is: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,” Song of Solomon 2:15

Is that your new life verse? It should be. Its amazing! Solomon is using a word picture for something we can take to heart. A fox is something that gets into your farm or garden and wrecks shop! It steels the hen’s eggs and it digs up your sweet potatoes and devours them. Those eggs were supposed to be scrambled or put in an amazing omelette with a side of bacon and some hash browns. Instead, those delicious eggs are now in the belly of a vile but cunning fox. Ordinarily I like foxes but if it eats my omelette, it is officially off my Christmas list and we are no longer on friendly terms. Fox, I can flip that switch pretty dang easily…so BACK OFF!

Solomon is reminding us to guard against the fox. Stop the things that get into your relationship that wreck shop! That takes intentionality. If you aren’t on your game, the fox will sneak in under the cover of night and take what belongs to you. The question is, what are the critters that sneak into your relationship AND how can being intentional put a stop to it?

Dig a hole, put your phone in it and cover it with dirt – You have got to have time face to face and take a screen out of picture. The fox in this situation is technology. Once you remove a major distraction like your phone, you might actually connect with your wife or husband. Let’s be super honest here, a phone is not just 1 distraction, it is like 100 distractions rolled up into one. You can Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, email, Pinterest, Pandora and applify your way right out of a healthy relationship with just one electronic device! Put your phone a safe distance away from the two of you and be there in the moment.

Get Creative – I’m terrible at this at times. I default to what is comfortable and what takes minimal effort. I’m just being honest with you here. The fox in this situation is laziness. Put some effort into the time with your spouse. Pick a different place to eat. Go listen to live music instead of seeing a movie. Have a conversation with your wife or husband about what they like to do or enjoy. Better yet, be covert. When you are having casual conversations with your spouse, use it as intel! Capture his/her likes and dislikes and hold on to it for a later date.

Bow chika bow wow – Yup. I just said that…or wrote it more specifically. You have to be intentional and carve out time for sex. I don’t know how to put it any other way. On average, guys will want to do that more than women but that is not ALWAYS the case. Guys, if you are considerate and loving in this regard, she will probably want to do this more often. Ladies, if you are open to scheduling and doing this more often, it will lead to more affection and communication outside of the bedroom. The fox in this situation is stress! As we all know, when we have a job, kids, chores, bills and other obligations, it drains us and it is much easier just to get ready for bed and go to sleep. This will require intentionality and follow through.

Random acts of kindness – Sure, you have to schedule things to make them happen. That is definitely intentional. However, random acts of kindness are crucial. Guys bring home flowers when it is not your anniversary or Valentine’s Day. Ladies surprise your husband with a night out at the movies or tickets to an event. It is expected on planned events that you would do something nice but on your average day, it is like an oasis in the desert when someone shows you that they love you.

The fox in this scenario is the grandiose! We often think we need a fancy restaurant, an epic gesture or an expensive gift to make memories. Sometimes all you need is one flower, one sticky note with kind words or a opening the door for them to score some major points.

You could also do surprise them with a little elbow grease. Nope, they don’t sell that at Walmart, I mean fix something in the house that needs to be fixed. Clean up the house or better yet, pay someone else to clean up the house if you can!

Butter them up! No, this doesn’t go along with bow chika bow wow. This is about words of affirmation. Tell your spouse that you love them and better yet…tell them why. Maybe this is face to face. Perhaps you leave them a love note under their pillow or on the bathroom mirror. It is great to be told that someone loves you. However, when someone tells you why they love you and it rings true, it means so much more. The fox here is pride. Often we don’t say or write something to someone because we think we’ll sound stupid. Throw that notion out the window! This is the person you are in love with right? Risk a little! Tell them how you feel and don’t worry…it will be perfect. Kind words have a way of healing your soul. Solomon tells us that the is true in Proverbs:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24

This is a good start to being more intentional in your relationship! Chase those foxes and kick them out of the garden! Do the hard work of creating a good marriage that will not be shaped by the things that happen to you or by other people. Be intentional in creating an intentional marriage!!! See you next week.

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