Little Foxes in Marriage

I can’t explain how blessed I feel this very moment.  My marriage is so glorious.  We are so happy I could scream.  I take for granted that half of the marriages out there end in divorce.  So many people just live together and they feel miles apart in their hearts.  I know that feeling.  My marriage was not always a bed of roses.  It took years of making choices.  In life, everything is a choice.  I chose to be his best friend even when he was not friendly.  In the beginning I didn’t like him much at all.  I was not cooperative.  He was insensitive.  I felt overlooked and ignored.  He was quiet when I wanted to talk.  He was practical and I was the dreamer.  He did not back my visions.  He never had much to say.  Even if I tried to look nice, he never told me I was beautiful.  I stopped trying and took on the look of an old frump for years and he never said much about that either.  I felt like our marriage  was a sea of nothingness, like vast lonely wilderness.  Now we walk hand in hand, co-heirs to LIFE so filled with adventure.  True Joy is wanting what you have.  I want my husband with all my heart.  It was worth fighting for each and every time.

You have heard the verse,

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
Song of Solomon 2:15  

If you have ever had a garden you will find pests that come in and eat or destroy all that you worked hard to grow.  If there is one lurking about, it does not take long for this creature to do some damage.  He must be caught and kept out.  In marriage, as the wife, we are called the keeper.  We are the keepers of the home.  We have the power to keep the home a place of peace and joy or to tear it down with our own hands.  If our heart is a garden and a bad thought a fox, we must do well in keeping these foxes from spoiling the fruits we could have in our marriage.  It is our job to catch the foxes trap them, taking every thought captive, and getting rid of them.  Some foxes will sneak in and creep up even in the best of circumstances.  You have to be a good KEEPER, and Keep a good eye on the precious fruit nothing can creep in to steal it.

How did I get from allowing the bad thoughts and circumstances of my marriage that was destroying my peace, to this place of wedded bliss?

I will share my secret.

It is by choice that I found peace.  Did my husband change?  No.  He is still the same quiet man he always was.  I changed my attitude over the years and began to look for things that were amazing about him.  No ‘one person‘ is all bad.  My husband is one of the kindest people I know.  I used to see the bad because I was looking for it strangely enough, how sad.  Now I find it hard to see anything but good.  It took practice.  Lots of practice in evaluation.  I had to take inventory each time a bad thought arose.  I have two stories to share with you…

The first story is set in Tennessee about 12 years ago.  Mark and I were standing on the future garden plot, the very place we filmed our first Homesteading for Beginners DVD!  I told him that this ground will teach the world how to feed their families.  He looked at me like I was half crazy because he had no idea where I was going with that thought.  “I want to make videos showing people how to homestead!”  Perplexed and quite cynical, he replied, “That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of in my entire life!  We do not know anything about homesteading.  No.  Not happening.”  Not wanting to listen to reason, I said with a cheerful countenance, “That is the beauty of it!  We can film everything as we are learning and if we succeed we can show people that it is for ANYONE.  I mean, we were city slickers.  If we can do this, anyone can!  He rolled his eyes and kept using his spade to break paths in the ground for seed.

We went on to make so many more DVDs.  Do you think he ever wanted to be filmed?  No!  He hated every moment of it even though he was great on the camera.  I had moments of defeat when I had to literally sneak around the corners to film him when he was not in the mood for filming because he was doing a little thing that HAD to be on the video in order for the video to make sense.  There were moments when he would snarl at me and say, “Don’t film me!”  Other times he would go along with it.  The truth is that it was a struggle.  I nearly threw the camera down on the concrete a couple times and gave up completely.  Most of the filming was on tripod or when I filmed the children helping. It wasn’t until after people started watching the videos, ordering them by the thousands, and after we started getting letters from our happy customers that they LOVE the videos, that he did start to value the project. Most women would have cried and been really hurt over this.  I knew that he was a great man of integrity.  I knew his heart.  He does not even want to open his mouth unless he can say something profitable to the conversation.  He won’t run up in front of a crowd to make his points clear because he really does not want any extra glory or attention.  He won’t do a job unless he knows he can do it to perfection.  That is a great quality.  He just couldn’t  see putting out a video unless a person is some kind of expert on a topic.  The whole concept to him went against his grain of integrity.

He is happy now that we did our Homesteading videos and that they were a success all over the world.  We kept our marriage because I did not let his lack of enthusiasm and negativity be the little fox that spoiled the vine.

But wait, I am not done!

I have a story from just recently.  A couple years ago we had moved into an old barn and Mark made it so nice.  I never had kitchen counter tops.  It was really difficult to work in a kitchen without proper cabinets and counter tops.  There were times when I would nag him about it and complain that he promised me that we could move out of the pretty white home and he would have the barn completed.  I had to live through years of half done homes and construction zones.  Early in the marriage, that was one of the foxes that tore down many vines and ate many tender grapes that could have made life sweeter.  I hated it.  There was dust everywhere, unfinished holes in the floor where my toddlers had to be trained not to fall into.  It was a danger ZONE!  He did not have time or money to fix it all up for me, the princess who wanted to have everything perfect.  Yes, I was a bit unthankful at times.  I learned to put stuff over the holes and work around the mess.  The other alternative was to cry and be mad all the time.  I was a spoiled brat and wanted my way.  He had to put up with my ungrateful attitude.

Back to the old barn house…I spent a lot of time designing the most unique cabinets that would fit in our kitchen perfectly.  The style was going to be the next latest fad.  Everyone, in my mind, was going to be talking about them and all the rich would want to have these type of cabinets in their kitchens.  He hated the idea of them, but because he loves me so, he did build them eventually.  He reclaimed all the wood off the old farm and used this beautiful wood for each cabinet.  Each piece would fit together with the same countertop yet everyone of the cupboards would look like a separate piece of furniture.  It was a grand idea.  Mark is a man of order and to see things like this was to cobble something together in his mind.  The cabinets were sitting in storage all this time since he never had a chance to install them.  I never did get to see them in all their glory or take photos to show the world this really amazing work of art.  We sold the farm and the barn went with it.

Just the other day as we were planning the kitchen remodel at this new home, I asked him about those gorgeous cabinets he made for me and if we could incorporate them in the design somehow.  “I gave them away.”  I was shocked.   I was angry.  I could not believe he would do this.  He said, “I knew you would never part with them on your own, so I just gave them away.  I knew you would be mad.  I purposely did not even bother to ask for your permission.”  I could feel a hard lump in my stomach.  How could he give my art away?!?!? They were my vision for a homestead kitchen.  My heart sank.  It seemed so thoughtless and cruel.

I had to put into practice that secret that has helped me in the past before.  The secret to a happy marriage, happy life, and the source of my joy, contentment, and ultimate peace is within one action.  It is in one decision.  That decision takes careful thought and introspection.  I was at a crossroads.  Many marriage split over stuff like this.  I could have chosen to be bitter with him, unthankful for all that he has had to put up with from me through the years—my manipulations, my ungrateful attitude, my many fits and unseemly behavior that he so patiently endured over the years, all the hateful looks I threw in his direction when I did not get my way, and even when I threatened to leave him at times.  I was no picnic, folks.  I was no walk in the park. I was one of his biggest blessings, but strongest challenges.  I only became a blessing to him by choosing to be one.

The secret is to be thankful.

When you sit there and have this mountain of pain and hurt staring you right between the eyes, you have to stop and evaluate it.  To make a wise decision, you must figure out how tall the mountain is and if it is worth the effort to allow it to define your next move.  In marriage, you have to evaluate these things.  Take inventory.  Is it really that bad?  When other women have to bury their husbands, can I see past this thing that is hurtful?  When other men are running around with other women while my husband only has eyes for me, can I forgive him on this one thing?  When other fathers are molesting their children, my husband is kind, gentle, and trustworthy with our children, so maybe this thing isn’t so bad after all?  He works hard to provide.  We do not live in fear.  You have to train yourself to put things into perspective BEFORE you make this choice to forgive and let go.

I made the choice to forgive and not let this small matter rob me of such a joyful marriage to my best friend.  I could have made a different choice.  The results would have left me feeling angry, bitter, confused, and depressed.  That path would have been sad.  I would not be enjoying the spring time weather going for walks and appreciating the fellowship my husband and I have together.  I found out later that he actually gave the cabinets to a missionary.  How wonderful.  What a great guy!

To have a good marriage, it is hard work. It is a series of choices.  I hope this encourages you to make some well thought out choices that lead to forgiveness, peace and joy in your marriage.

I would love to hear from you.  If you like this post, please let me know by commenting or sharing the post with others.  You never know how far reaching this could be.  So many people are hurting and they do not realize that they could be free from their hurt if only they could look around, take things into proper perspective, and count their blessings.  God bless you!

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20 thoughts on “Little Foxes in Marriage”

  1. Carol Caudill

    Hi Erin, it is so neat to meet you after all these years apart. And I am so encouraged to see what God is doing in your life and marriage. Do you remember when our daughter, Emily, helped you when one of your babies was born, I think? I also remember when you had some physical problem and Pearce’s and we prayed for you, and you had a miraculous healing. I’m sure you remember. I love the things you are writing, especially about the Apple of His Eye. Wow, what an amazing husband! Billy and I have a great marriage, and I would say it’s especially because he is such a lover, never failing to express his love to me many times a day. I read your article in Debi Pearl’s book “Created to be His Helpmeet” and loved it. Now one of these times when I feel that I can afford it, I want to order your book about virtuous wives (forget the title). God bless you as you continue to be such a blessing to many wives.

    1. Erin Harrison

      It is such a delight and a blessing to hear from you, Carol! I do remember every bit of the life I had with our fellowship all those years ago. The ways your family ministered to our family when we were in such need. Yes, God is so good. I remember when Miles was having night terrors and you all prayed over him and he was set free. I remember being healed. I still tell that story to almost every person I meet. It is my favorite one. I actually wrote the entire story on this blog…From Death to Life I am sure you will be blessed to read the entire story from my humble perspective. God showed himself so powerful to me and I will never forget it. It is likely the first time I started to really and truly understand his grace and mercy. In that moment I was transfixed to the power that is in the blood of Christ! Love you dear sister.

  2. I’m so glad that you are back to writing! You have been an encouragement to me over the years! We met over the Dostie’s campfire cooking s’mores many years ago at one of the Missouri Shindigs and I have been reading ever since. ? My own marriage of almost 18 years is sweeter today because of the wisdom you have shared! God bless!

    1. Aww, thank you so much Meghan! You have no idea how this touches my heart today! I cast my bread on the water and never know how God will use it. What a blessing to me today to know that all these years ago, God connected us and brought something beautiful out of my ashes. Glory to God!

    1. Katie, thank you for your comment. It means so much, glad it is an encouragement to your marriage. God bless you!

  3. I took it that maybe he knew they would never use them. They had bought a house and would not need them. She probably is like me and can not depart with things easily. Yes my husband has given away alot of things of mine and I got so angry that it caused alot of contention in our home. The kids saw my ugly attitude and it bread so much disrespect in them. It is not easily fixed if it is constant. He probably should have maybe said what do you think.. but in the end she choose the higher ground and found peace in the little things.. Which eventually are really the big things in life. Forgiveness and Joy! A Happy home is a Great thing! It is Priceless ?.

  4. There are some things you mention wich rub me the wrong way. I expect my Husband to respect me and my things. E would NEVER throw something away without ASKING ME. It is just so very very very disrespectful and unloving. It shows you st w e does NOT! value YOUR things.

    1. I know it, Runa. It is true. It was completely not right of him to give them away without asking. The point is that I could have really been angry and bitter over this. It could have separated us on a lot of levels of trust and fellowship. I just chose to not allow it to destroy me or our marriage. I could not take the cabinets back from our friends who are the missionaries so there really was only one of two things I could have done. I could have felt so disrespected. I would have had every right to feel that way, just like you say. I even entertained that thought for about 2 hours. I had to evaluate whether it was worth throwing away the good marriage we have. I did not expect him to do this, it was shocking, but I still decided in my heart I was not going to go down that path. The other option was to forgive. I chose forgiveness. He normally would never do something like this to me. He has valued many more things I have throughout the years, even things he does not like much, like some of our antiques from my family. But he always carefully, lovingly keeps them. He is a good guy. You would know that if you knew him. One bad thing of millions of amazing things. I could not possibly have enough internet space to write all the amazing things that I love about him. I surely can forgive his occasional imperfections and offenses. I am sure if you stacked my offenses toward him, I would win. I would have the most bad things in comparison to his. BY FAR! So I hope you can see the intent. It doesn’t make his actions any more correct, but I can look beyond them.

  5. You have no idea just how timely your article is in my life right now. My husband and I are dealing with an overrun of foxes that I have allowed inside the gates! Thank you!

    1. God is so good!!!!! I am rejoicing that this article was used of God in your life so that you could find those pesky foxes that are overrunning. Yes, you are the KEEPER and you can KEEP them out one by one as they come. It is a glorious task but one that we have the power by God to accomplish in Him! So exciting that you have identified the foxes and now you can cast them out in Jesus Name! Love to you, so blessed to hear from you!

  6. Was about to go to bed..and 1st thing I came across was this! So glad the Lord allowed me to find this. Just today, I’m letting the little things take away my joy. After reading this, it spoke truth and encouragement to my heart! A must read for sure!!

    1. Praise God!!! I am rejoicing for you right now as I read your comment, Sheree! What a blessing! God is so merciful and faithful to give words through a vessel, any person God can use, to reach those in the deepest hour of need. Your words encourage me to keep reaching out with what God has given me. Love to you! I pray you will continue to see all the foxes, catch them, and throw them aside so you, too, can fully enjoy the place where God has you right now in your marriage.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story Erin. As you saw from the photos we just celebrated 27 years of married life together. We have a most loving and caring relationship and we hope to be great role models to our boys as they seek for a future spouse. Unfortunately it hasn’t always been so great.
    We thought we were madly in love when we first got married but now I realise that it was nothing as huge as what we have now. True love is when you can turn a blind eye to the negative things you see in that person and celebrate all the positive traits. My husband sounds a lot like yours, except for the part where he does not want to be filmed. Hubby actually makes podcasts amd lessons online for Biology students. Mine was a workaholic and that was the source of many of our arguments. It was really hard to parent our 4 young boys while hubby was always at school teaching and preparing for his lessons. Our relantionshio is so much better now thanks to a change in our lifestyles. Not a day goes by that we do not say I love you to each other, we hug, hold hands and do a lot of stuff together. Teeenagers around us often comment about how cool we are as a couple. God is in charge of our family and we are grateful for what He has done.

    1. Oh Alex, it is so good to be your friend! I so appreciated looking at your photos from your lovely holiday with your husband. The Good LIFE of really digging in and living by what you said, “True love is when you can turn a blind eye to the negative things you see in that person and celebrate all the positive traits,” is worth striving for. You and I are proof of this. It is great that we can relate in this victory. It feels so good to be at the place where those days are a distant memory. Now we can rejoice for the fruit that is flourishing in our marriage. God blessing you! I am so grateful for all God is doing! Love you!

  8. From one joyful wife to another with the same lessons learned & still being put into action daily… Amen, Amen !! So much I could say, but yes… the joy comes in the CHOOSING to look at the good & bring fulfillment to HIS life because God is so good to me/us…. “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus…”

    1. You are so right, Miss Crosswhite! I could not agree more! It will be worth it when we see Jesus! It brings so much fulfillment to our life when we live a life of thanksgiving and service to God even when it is to our husbands and in our homes. What a blessing. Thank you so much for leaving a comment, it means so much to me! God bless you!

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