In one of the greatest love poems of all time, King Solomon commanded, “Catch for us . . . the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15). What a picturesque way of describing the little things that can mar a marriage relationship.
Little things like leaving dishes in the sink instead of in the dishwasher . . . or leaving underwear next to the shower . . . or loading toilet paper in the holder the wrong way.
Or, leaving hair in the sink or in the corner of the floor from blow-drying hair. OK, that hits home. That’s one of the little irritants I have faced. Then one day there was no more hair to clean up. More on that later.
So how do we keep those little irritants in marriage from becoming big irritants?
Let me suggest five ways:
1. Identify those irritants. Which of your spouse’s habits makes the muscles in your neck tighten with frustration or anger? Or, ones that elicit that special glare? You can only deal with what you can identify
2. Ask yourself, “Why do I get angry about this?” Is it because your mother yelled at you for doing the same, and you hear your mother’s voice in your head? (Really? Are you replaying old messages in your mind?) Is it because you will need to take a little time to clean up after your spouse? (OK, how much time would that actually take?)
3. Take a little inventory of yourself. What irritates him or her about you? How many of your annoying habits does your spouse overlook? Which of you causes the most irritations? In my house, I think I win the irritation award! But my wife is very patient!
4. Suppose you asked yourself, “What would happen if I looked at compensating for my spouse’s irritating habits as a way to serve him or her?” Jesus, fully God in human flesh, became a servant to others and God calls us to do the same (Philippians 2:5-7)
5. Thank your spouse for the way he or she compensates for your bad habits. There’s nothing like gratitude to douse the flames of irritation!
Oh, yes, about hair in the sink and in the corners. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed surgery and chemo. Then, there was no more hair in the shower or sink! (But God, I didn’t really want that to happen!) So now as her hair grows back, I’ll gladly clean the sink and floor. Anything to help her get better. Suddenly, my little irritation looks so petty.
“Lord, help me catch and expel the little foxes that are trying to spoil my marriage!”