Catch the Little Foxes
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Sharon Jaynes believes the Song of Solomon still has practical applications for us today. For instance, she talks about the “little foxes” that can ruin a marriage if a couple isn’t careful.
Catch the Little Foxes
Bob: We have said, often, on FamilyLife Today that all marriages naturally drift toward isolation. Sharon Jaynes remembers seeing evidence of that drift in her parents’ marriage.
Sharon: My dad was in the Korean War. He made a little vinyl record—sent it home to my mom. They had been married a year; and on that record, he talked about how much he loved her, how much he cherished her, and he missed her. I listened to that record, and I held it in my hand; and I thought: “How in the world did this happen? How in the world did this man—who is talking about how much he loves this woman—how did they end up having such a horrible marriage?” Because my remembrance of my parents—I very rarely remember any kind words. There was a lot of violence in my home. As far as I knew, my parents didn’t even like each other much less love each other.
How did that happen? Well, it starts out with little foxes. If you don’t take care of the little problems, they will become big problems.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 17th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. Are there little foxes running around in your marriage that need to be caught/captured and run out of the house? We’re going to talk today about dealing with those little foxes, so your marriage doesn’t drift toward isolation or worse. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’ve got to tell you—the conversation we’re having this week, where we’re talking about romance, and joy, and passion in a marriage relationship—we ought to talk about this more; you know? [Laughter] I mean, just—there is something about celebrating this part of marriage.
We said earlier, “This is not the foundation of a marriage—
Dave: —“but it’s important.”
Bob: It is. When this is absent from a marriage, the marriage suffers. When this is present in a marriage/when it’s healthy in a marriage, that’s going to help your marriage be what God designed it to be.
Dave: I’m guessing that Mary Ann is going to give us a call tonight and say: “Wow! What did you guys talk about today? Bob is so romantic!” [Laughter]
Bob: Well, the reason is because we are talking about what the Bible says in Song of Solomon. We’re doing that because Sharon Jaynes is joining us again. Welcome back, Sharon.
Sharon: Thank you for having me.
Bob: Sharon is an author and a speaker, a mom and a wife; and she has written a book called Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage, and Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon.
I just need to point out that, on the cover of this book—first of all, the title looks like one of those “Do Not Disturb” signs; right? [Laughter]
Sharon: That’s on purpose.
Dave: That’s good.
Ann: I like that.
Bob: Then it talks about Romance, Marriage, and then it highlights Sexual Intimacy—those are in bigger, bolder; that’s in a different typeface than the rest.
Dave: Yes; what’s that all about? [Laughter] We’re going to find out.
Sharon: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: It is central to what is in the Song of Solomon. This is a part of what God is giving us an invitation to, at this point in His Word—He is saying, “I delight in husbands and wives experiencing what I designed.”
We’ve said this for years: Howard Hendricks used to say, “We should not be ashamed to discuss what God was not ashamed to create.” It’s one of the things at the Weekend to Remember® that we talk about openly, appropriately.
Bob: But so many couples come up and say: “Thank you, because we didn’t know where we could go. We didn’t know who we could talk to about the issues and the challenges we are facing in our marriage.”
Ann: I think so many people live in silence and shame about this area; and so, when we can talk about it honestly and biblically, it can really transform people’s lives.
Bob: I mentioned the Weekend to Remember because this week we’re making a special offer to FamilyLife Today listeners. You can sign up for an upcoming Weekend to Remember—you and your spouse can attend, and we’ll cover half the cost for you; so it’s 50 percent off the regular registration fee if you sign up this week. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for the information, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Look for dates and locations that are going to work for you this spring.
But I’ve got to tell you: “A weekend together this spring will be the best investment you will make in your marriage all year, and it will pay dividends for months to come.”
Dave: —“for your legacy!”
I’m always somewhat shocked, when we speak at a Weekend to Remember; and the couples that come up and say, “This is the first time we’ve ever”—25 years married—“ever gone away to work on our marriage,”—[I’m] like: “Oh my goodness! You need to do this.
Ann: And I’m not—
Dave: “You need to do it now.”
Ann: And I’m not sure we would still be married had we not gone to one of these.
Dave: I don’t know if you’ve got to go that far!
Bob: That’s a pretty bold statement. [Laughter]
Ann: It’s true.
Bob: You’re saying—
Dave: —it is true.
Bob: —there were foundational principles that you learned, as an engaged couple, that when you hit some road blocks,—
Bob: —you could pull back and say, “They told us this was coming, and they gave us tools to know how to deal with it.”
Bob: Well, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for information about the getaway. Sign up this week—save 50 percent off the regular registration fee—or call if you have any questions or if you’d like to sign up by phone: 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Dave: So, Bob, let’s get into this topic of the Song of Solomon and how it relates to our lives. One of the interesting things about Song of Solomon—it isn’t just about sexual intimacy—it’s all the things highlighted in your book: it’s romance; it’s passion. Let’s talk about that.
Sharon: It’s about covenant; it’s about the words that we speak; about how to leave and cleave; so there’s a lot in there.
Bob: —even about conflict, there’s—
Sharon: There is 20 percent on conflict and how to forgive each other, so there is a lot in these 8 little chapters.
Dave: So, one of the things you talk about in there—that Solomon brings up—is little foxes; and it destroys romance/destroys passion in a marriage. What do we do with the little foxes in our homes?
Sharon: It’s interesting when he says, “Catch for us the little foxes.” Now, who was the us? Who do you think he is talking to?
Bob: I would assume it is the two of them—husband and wife?
Sharon: “Catch for us the little foxes.” At least, to me, it’s like he is talking to God.
Sharon: So, there is a God element in there: “Catch for us….”—he is talking to someone else.
Bob: Yes; good point.
Sharon: But what are foxes? There are four of us here. I bet we could come up with a hundred little foxes really quickly, but let’s just name a few.
Bob: Kids can be foxes; they can rob a relationship of romance. [Laughter]
Sharon: They do.
Dave: I mean, I’ve heard from my wife harsh words.
Sharon: Harsh words; yes.
Bob: She’s spoken those to you, or she’s told you—
Dave: She’s told me.
Bob: —that “That’s a fox.”
Dave: I mean, I can see her countenance drop; and I can be so clueless to think, “I can say harsh words and then want to be romantic—
Dave: —“you know?—in the same hour.” It’s like, “It doesn’t work that way.”
Ann: Unresolved conflict/unforgiveness.
Bob: Anger. You know, there are not many spouses, who say, “You remember when you were just angry with me? That just made me want to be with you”; right? [Laughter] No; that’s when we want to separate from one another.
Sharon: But there are so many little foxes. We could just go on and on for the next several hours. It’s going to look different for everyone. We have to look out for the little foxes that will come in and steal the fruit of our marriage—is what the analogy actually was.
But little foxes can also be people; you know, it could be relatives. It can be work; it can be too much church work—focusing on that rather than your marriage. It could be too much time at work. It can be cuddling up with a good book at night. It could be spending too much time with the remote. There are lots of different little foxes that can creep in.
I think one of the big foxes—not a little fox—that we’ve looked at already is apathy in marriage. That is huge, and that is one that we see that can destroy a marriage very quickly, especially in the later years—after the children are gone—and then they look at each other and say, “Well, now, who are you?” Well, what’s happened? They haven’t been very intentional about their marriage, so that little fox of apathy and indifference has crept in.
I mentioned earlier about the letters that I found in my attic that were written by my father-in-law to my mother-in-law; but interestingly enough, I was going through some of my parents’ things, and I found a little record. Remember—in the Army, where you used to could make a little vinyl record to send home? Well, my dad was in the Korean War. He made a little, vinyl record—sent it home to my mom. They had been married a year; on that record, he talked about how much he loved her, how much he cherished her, and he missed her.
I listened to that record, and I held it in my hand, and I thought: “How in the world did this happen? How in the world did this man, who is talking about how much he loves this woman—how did they end up having such a horrible marriage?” Because, in my remembrance of my parents, I very rarely remember any kind words. There was a lot of violence in my home; and as far as I knew, my parents didn’t even like each other, much less, love each other. How did that happen?
Well, it starts out with little foxes. If you don’t take care of the little problems, they will become big problems.
Bob: We say, all the time, at the Weekend to Remember getaway, that the natural drift in every relationship is toward isolation. We don’t naturally drift together; we naturally drift apart. If you are not purposeful in your marriage to build intimacy, what will happen is—you’ll wake up, six months/a year from now, and go: “Who are you?” and “How did we get so far apart?”
This is where I think couples—because when we are dating, it seems like we just keep getting closer and closer—there is something that propels us together; but after we’re married, it’s—just the opposite happens. We start to just drift apart. I think this is where couples—nobody prepares them for the fact that marriage is going to be grand and glorious, but you’re going to have to work at it to make it that way.
Dave: And you’re going to have to go against the drift—
Dave: —because it is natural.
Ann: And the pull of the culture—
Dave: Yes; exactly.
Ann: —pulls us apart.
Dave: I want to ask you, Sharon: “What did you feel?” I can’t imagine, if I found a vinyl of my dad saying those kinds of things to my mom—and I had a similar experience; I never saw that—man, that would have hit me.
Sharon: It did hit me hard. I think about, even on my wedding day, I was sitting there, dressed in the wedding gown and thinking how much I love Steve—all the people I love being there—and we were going to be different. We were going to have that strong marriage—not like the kind of marriage that my parents had. But then I thought: “Now, wait a minute! Didn’t they feel that way before they got married? What could go so wrong, in so many marriages, that you start out feeling the way I feel today; and then you drift apart?”
I made a decision that I was not going to let that happen in my marriage. I was going to do everything within my power to make our marriage great; but I found out very quickly that the problem with that was the “in my power” part, because I didn’t have it in my power to have a great marriage. I could try mighty hard; I could be intentional; but I really needed God to be the center of our marriage, and become a woman of prayer, and praying for my husband—I call it, “Praying from Head to Toe”—that’s [the topic of] another book I wrote a while back; and I have a Praying Wives Club now that—just covering our marriage in prayer. I cannot do it on my own, but being aware that that can happen.
And we see that in the Song of Solomon, talking about the foxes. He shows us that it can happen, and then he shows us it did happen—because he came knocking, and she said, “No thanks,”—and then you get to the very end of the book, and it shows us how to prevent it from happening.
I want to read one little cute, cute verse here. She’s coming up to him, and I envision him—maybe, Solomon’s out, taking care of the fields; and she comes up. She says: “Come, my beloved. Let us go to the countryside. Let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards.” Then she says this one little verse at the end—and think about this—this is a woman who has been married for a while. She encourages him to come off to the countryside and spend the night in the villages, like they used to. I bet they were going to a FamilyLife® conference. [Laughter]
Bob: —Weekend to Remember.
Sharon: Yes; Weekend to Remember—that’s it.
She says: “There I will give you my love. The mandrakes send out their fragrance. At the door is every delicacy, both new and old that I have stored up for you, my Beloved.” Can’t you see her kind of teasing him with that? You know, “You’re going to have the garden that you’ve enjoyed, and you’re going to have some new things.” She was very intentional about calling her husband away/going away and spending some romantic time together.
All through the book of Song of Solomon, there is no mention of children, so it’s very much centered on the romantic relationship between a husband and wife.
Ann: Why do you point that out?
Sharon: One reason I point it out is—people think that God created that part of us for procreation; but there’s a lot that He put in us that that has nothing to do with procreation; it’s simply for pleasure between a husband and wife.
Sharon: If God created us that way, then He is glorified when we enjoy what He’s created.
Dave: Yes; you said in your book—and I’ve never read this by any other author—I’ve actually said something like it at the Weekend to Remember when we talk about this part of a marriage. You said this—when I say this publically, and I’ve said it at church—people almost sort of go, “Really?” Here is what I remember you writing: “When a married couple makes love, God, like, cheers. God is celebrating that.” Talk about that.
Sharon: Well, you just kind of said it in a nutshell. [Laughter]
Dave: I mean, but—
Sharon: But He does because, you know, what is the definition of glorifying God? Well, to glorify God is make Him easy to see; but something glorifies God when it’s doing what He’s created it to do and being what He has created it to be. He has put all this to fashion into a husband and a wife for that very purpose; so when you are enjoying that, He’s excited. I mean, that’s what He made you for.
Sharon: In a way, you are glorifying God with your spouse.
Dave: Yes. The thing I’ve tried to help people understand is—I had a wrong view of the character of God to think that all God thought about a married couple making love/sexual intimacy is that it was wrong and dirty. That’s sort of what I had heard. Yet, when you understand, “He actually celebrates that,” it’s like: “Wait, wait, wait. Maybe, I’ve misunderstood the character of who God is. He’s actually a wonderful Father, who gave us a beautiful, intimate gift and said, ‘Enjoy it.’”
Sharon: That is how many people were taught—that it was evil, but—
Sharon: —that marriage permitted it. But it is not an evil that marriage permits; it’s a wonderful thing that marriage protects.
Bob: I love the verse in Song of Solomon 5; and I believe this is God speaking when He says, “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love.” I just think: “Here is God, looking at the man and the woman, in this glorious, romantic relationship, where they are with one another; and He says: ‘I delight in this. This brings joy to Me. This is glorifying to Me, and I am smiling at my children enjoying what I created for them to enjoy.’”
Sharon: And that was on their honeymoon night—
Sharon: —when He said that to them.
Ann: Alright; this is all beautiful; it’s good. [Laughter]
Ann: Let’s talk to the woman that’s married to a husband that is totally disengaged: he’s not seeing her; he’s not involved with the children; he’s working all the time; he’s not pursuing her or affectionate in anyway. What should she do?
Sharon: That is a really hard one because we tend to think that it is usually the man, who is always the one who is interested; it’s the woman who is really not that interested; but in 20 percent [of marriages], it’s the other way around, where the man is not interested, and the woman is; and she feels very hurt.
Bob: And we’re seeing that number increase—more and more wives, who would say, “My husband is disengaged in the area of romance, and intimacy, and passion.” I have to think pornography is a part of that; but yes; it’s leaving a lot of wives feeling, “There must be something really wrong with me because it’s supposed to be where my husband is pursuing me, and he never does.”
Sharon: Right. Sometimes, it can be something simple as low testosterone, and the just need to go to the doctor and be checked.
Sharon: But then that’s even a problem, because I don’t want to admit that there is a problem; but that is such an easy fix. There are a lot of things in the culture, right now, that are causing men to not be interested with their own wives. Pornography is huge.
Sharon: It is a huge problem. Bob, I read a statistic that the porn industry brings in more revenue than the NBA, the NFL, and Major League Baseball combined.
Sharon: So, that is a huge problem. It’s so accessible—yes; it’s always been around, but it’s never been more accessible than it is today.
Going back—and “What does a woman do with that?”—they really need to go to some counseling; because the devil gets just as excited about sex outside of marriage as he does with the marriage without sex, because both are outside of the will of God. The husband needs to realize that they are living outside of the will of God.
In 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, Paul talks to the couple about not withholding sexual intimacy from each other. It says only for a time of prayer and fasting that you both agree on. If you talk to a couple that’s not engaging anymore, I can guarantee you it’s not because of their prayer and fasting; there is some other reason. Paul is assuming that they are having relations; and he saying, “It’s a problem if you’re not.”
Bob: Well, you’re right. It’s not just the couples have called the time out for prayer and fasting, but that passage also says it’s by mutual agreement. I’ve rarely met a couple, where both husband and wife are saying: “You know what? We’ve set aside a season of time for prayer and for fasting, and we both agree.” It’s usually somebody, who is saying, “I’m frustrated”; and the other one, who is saying, ‘I’m not interested.’”
Sharon: Then what does it say about the reason to come back together?
Bob: So that you are not tempted; so that you are not drawn outside of the marriage for fulfillment in this aspect of life.
Sharon: Whoever is withholding that physical intimacy is painting a target on the spouse’s back.
Bob: Yes. Now, let’s be clear there; because if somebody steps outside of the marriage, it’s not the other person’s fault.
Sharon: No; it’s not.
Dave: Right; right.
Bob: It’s always on the person who makes the choice to be unfaithful. All we’re saying is—we can make it easier or harder for a spouse to be unfaithful by how we choose to respond to them.
Ann: I was at a conference, not too long ago, when a woman came up to me. They’d been married 40 years, and she said her husband is no longer interested in this area. She was so disappointed. She said, “I told him that I’m going to go outside of our marriage.” He said, “Fine”; so she went on to a dating site.
Bob: Oh, wow!
Ann: I’m glad that you said that, because there’s no reason ever that we should go outside of our marriage. God’s not calling us to do that.
Ann: He is calling us to fast and to pray—to get counsel.
Bob: The reason is because we can’t separate physical intimacy from our love for one another; there is a connection between body and soul. There is a connection between two people that is a mysterious—by God’s design—a mysterious connection. You step outside the marriage and just say, “Well, I’m just doing this so that I can be physically satisfied here,”—you don’t have any idea what you’re tampering with here in terms of the relationship. It’s not simply a biological act; it’s a relational act.
Ann: And there will always be consequences.
Bob: That’s right.
Dave: And I’m sitting here, thinking, “I’m one of the consequences for my dad stepping outside of the marriage.” I remember asking him—boy, years after the divorce; I’m 35/37 years old; I’ve got young children at home—and I picked him up at the airport to come visit me.
I said, “Dad, did you ever regret the divorce?” Before I finished the line, he said, “[Blank] yes!” It was so visceral. He said, “Really, it was the biggest mistake of my life.” I knew what he was thinking: “I chased after women. I chased after pleasure. I lost you, and I lost a legacy.” I could feel it—like if he could do it all over again, he would have done it right—because he didn’t think the stakes were that high, but that’s how high the stakes are.
This topic we’re talking about is so important. If you want to keep the fire going, you’ve got to do the same thing you do with a real fire. You’ve got to continually stoke it/work on it. You can’t let little foxes—you can’t let it dissipate. You’ve got to, daily—right?—every single day: “I’m going to bring energy to all aspects of my marriage, including this. I’m going to do it God’s way.”
Bob: Sharon, you have given us a look into how God unpacks this for us in His Word. Thank you for the book. Thank you for the time with us. Thanks for being bold enough to be a woman writing on Song of Solomon.
Sharon: You’re welcome. It was a big step. [Laughter]
Bob: We’ve got copies of Sharon’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order the book, Lovestruck, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get a copy. Again, the book is called Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage, and Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon. Order online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call to order at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And let me just say, “If you want to stir a little romance and passion in your marriage, get away at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this spring.” I’m always amazed—the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, is here with us. David, I’m always amazed when I run into listeners, who say, “Oh, yes; we’ve talked about doing that, and we’ve just never gotten around to it.” I go, “Well, what are you waiting for?!”—you know? [Laughter]
David: Yes; I mean, it can be challenging to get time away.
Bob: If you’ve got babysitting, I get it—
David: That’s right.
Bob: —I understand.
David: It is always worth it—every time—to invest that into your marriage/to invest a weekend. It’s one weekend. One of the things that I’m so grateful for is how deep of a foundation these Weekends to Remember are. This is a getaway that has been happening for over four decades.
David: They are just time-tested and trusted. You can trust that this weekend bears fruit and transformation in your life.
Bob: We’ve talked to so many couples, who say, “I wish we’d done this when we first got married.” So, rather than putting it off and waiting until you’ve been married [longer], why not do it today? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and sign up for an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Again, if you sign up today, you’ll save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. That’s the best offer we make all year long, so sign up to attend a getaway; save 50 percent.
You can find out more about when a getaway is coming to a city near where you live or a city you’d like to visit; or if you have any questions, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can get you registered by phone, or you can register online at FamilyLifeToday.com; but plan to join us this spring at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways.
With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday.
John Trent and Curt Hamner are going to be here. They’ve gotten together with pastors, and counselors, and Bible teachers, and seminary professors, from all across the country, to talk about how central the issue of marriage is to everything in God’s design. What they’ve discovered is pretty interesting. They are going to be here on Monday to talk with us about that. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We’ll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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