Ben's blog follows on from
. It's great to hear a husband's perspective on marriage struggles, and I know that my husband, Mark, will be able to identify with many of the things Ben mentions here...
A few days ago my wife posted about the way in which marriage, and any close relationship, can be a place where you are formed, grow and learn. As is wise in a marriage; I agree with her. A great marriage can be like an amazing, loving school where God slowly shapes you and trains you through closeness with another person.
The problem is that all too often I don't cooperate with that process. Instead I find little ways to undermine, refuse or slow the things God wants to teach me. I don't know if this is a man thing, a human thing or just a me thing, but I do know its too easy just to let things go, to not talk about them, to sulk and refuse the lesson. To undermine the marriage.
There is a verse in that amazing love poem, Songs of Songs, that talks about catching the little foxes that ruin the vineyard of the lovers. Whatever else that poem is about, I think the image of little foxes wrecking everything is a great one. That's what happens when I refuse to let my marriage shape me; I let a fox go, and it starts to make mess. If I keep doing this then eventually the foxes will ruin everything.
What are the foxes? Here are a few: - I'll keep writing them all as first person problems because that feels a bit kinder.
When I react badly to a legitimate criticism from my wife or family and refuse to listen to what they are really saying.
When I choose to keep pressing for what I want in the relationship, rather than choosing to prefer my wife's needs and desires.
When I continually repress my own needs and desires rather than choose to talk about them in a trusting, loving way.
When I allow pressure or ambition or workaholicism to take me away from my wife and family again and again.
When I use time with wife or family as covers for laziness or cowardice and shortchange time and effort on the things God has called me to do.
When I forget that my wife is different to me, that her tastes, interests and pleasures are not the same as mine.
When I let anxiety, plans, guilts etc stay in my head rather than actually talk about them.
When my life dominates the conversation and all we talk about is me.
There are a few foxes, I could give you some more, but I think you probably get the idea.
I know I'm being a bit full on... I'm sure you are a wonderful human, a loving partner and committed to learning from your marriage. Just like me!
But, just like me, I guess you probably choose not to go along with the education process from time to time and let another fox go.
I'm asking God to show me and my wife how to catch more of the little so-and-sos in our relationship this year. Perhaps you'd like to do that too.
Ben lives in Deal, England with his wife and two children. Ben and Helen got married when they were 22 and have been together for over a decade. Getting married pretty young means he learned how to be an adult with his wife, which was fun! Ben blogs at: