Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home
The season of summer is a period of early fruitfulness. A key goal for the summer season of your marriage is to keep successes and stresses in other areas of your life from overwhelming your marriage, especially your sexual relationship. This may be a period of productivity in your ministry or business, as you try to work hard and prove your value to a ministry or work team. Like all other seasons, the summer season has foxes you may need to stop from spoiling your vineyard; and some of these foxes are:-
- Pregnancy……Part of God‘s original design for a couple‘s sexual relationship is for children to be born out of their sexual intimacy. Having a baby fulfills one of a woman‘s greatest innate desires. Some women have easy pregnancies, with few side effects. But for some couples, it is their first excursion into a wilderness of strange symptoms, and an emotional roller coaster caused by all of the hormonal and physical alterations in her landscape.
Catching this fox involves frequently and cheerfully adjusting to continual changes. Fortunately, sex during pregnancy can be a delightful and satisfying experience. Many men feel pleasure at having the fruit of their previous lovemaking there for all to see and find their wives doubly attractive during this time.
- Postpartum depression…..After the birth of a baby, some women become depressed. It is a hormone imbalance that is aggravated by exhaustion from labor, lack of deep sleep, and the stress of caring for a child who did not come equipped with an owner‘s manual. Depression will prevent a woman from desiring sex, and her negative attitude may also cause her husband to withdraw from her. Her unstable emotions may be hard for him to understand. If their relationship and their baby are both healthy, why isn‘t she happy? A husband can help to catch this fox by helping his wife to get plenty of rest after the birth of a baby and by offering his body up for her, even when her attitude is poor. He may do her chores, get up in the night with the baby, and hire a house helper or a baby sitter so that his wife may nap when the baby naps. He can draw out his wife‘s thoughts to understand what she is thinking and feeling, even if she seems to make little sense. It helps if he assures her that she is still sexually attractive, still his best friend, still young and vital— addressing the deep fears that stretch marks, motherhood, and an extra ten or twenty pounds from pregnancy may stir up. Even though she may seem like a different person from the cheerful girl he married, his patience with her can help ease her through this difficult period.
But what if you are the depressed wife? What if your husband is not responding in this helpful way but is criticizing you for not being happy and energetic? You need to work to catch these foxes yourself by doing as many things as possible to help yourself recover. Remember the cause is hormones, so don‘t act on your heavy emotions. To remain silent is to let the foxes spoil the vineyard. Talk to your husband of your feelings and your need for help until you can recover your equilibrium. Reach out to friends and family for help. Go to a clinic and ask for medical help. Doctors are usually well acquainted with this common condition following childbirth and can prescribe some medicine to help you.
- Young children……Children are a great gift from the Lord but also have great needs, which never seem to stop. Without careful management, these sweet little foxes can gobble up every last crumb of energy in your marriage relationship until nearly every interaction between you and your spouse is only about the children and providing for them. If one or more of your children has a handicap or special needs, the effect can be like a tidal wave, which overwhelms everything in its wake. When the winter season comes, couples who have allowed their relationship with each other to be swept away by the needs of their children, suddenly see their relationship for the barren landscape that it is.
Don‘t lose your first love. Genesis 2:24 says that you are to be one with your spouse, but the verse never says to be one with your children. Seize these little foxes by making it a high priority to meet the needs of your marriage relationship, almost as if the relationship itself is a child, which you must tend more carefully than the others because it rarely speaks up! Even when you are tired, make time to be alone away from the children and renew your acquaintance as friends and lovers. Don‘t let your fears about the children, or your delight in them, keep you from finding privacy and from loving your spouse sexually.
How can you find the privacy and the energy for sex, when the house has one or more busy toddlers? Some actions are not difficult. Install a lock on the bedroom door. Don‘t let your children get in the habit of sleeping with you. If your spouse is primarily responsible for the children, make sure that he/she gets enough respite from their care to do other things that are meaningful. Childcare fatigue will deplete anyone‘s interest in sex. If Mom is home with children all day, let Dad play with the children in the early evening so that Mom may withdraw and refresh herself emotionally and physically for sex. Or arrange for help so that she can nap in the afternoon in order to be ready to enjoy a tryst after the kids are asleep. Plan weekly or bi-weekly nights out, even if it is just for a walk or a cup of coffee a trusted person keeps an eye on the children.
- Work…..During the same period that couples are having their first children, one or both are often working very hard to establish themselves in a career. Like young children, many careers can absorb every drop of energy you have if you let them. This is a wily and deceitful fox because you can fool yourself that you are doing it all for your family, or doing it all for the Lord. But your family needs you, not just the money or power your work provides. The Lord has given you your spouse and children as your first area of responsibility. Catching this little fox is similar to catching the little foxes of children. Schedule regular time for loving your spouse sexually and make the preparations that catch the little fox of exhaustion. Make it your business to understand your spouse‘s work and to stay emotionally connected by talking about your day, especially sharing your feelings.
When something goes wrong at work, and your spouse‘s heart aches, you should be the first person whom your spouse comes to for comfort, for prayer, and for understanding. Your situation and your personalities may require unique actions, but the key is to proactively do whatever it takes to keep your emotional and sexual bonds strongly connected, even when your business or ministry tempts you to give it everything. Even if you are engaged in significant ministry or high demanding business, at the end of your life, it will be the love of your spouse and your children that will mean the most to you. Save the best of yourself for them.
- Infertility…..While all of your friends are happily adding children to their homes, you may be unable to have children. This little fox can be heartbreaking. When you desire children, nothing else will satisfy. Worse, Scripture seems to be full of barren women who miraculously were able to conceive—Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth to name a few. The fact that He does not seem to be similarly answering your prayers may become a ―fox‖ in your marriage that keeps you from enjoying your sexual relationship together. Every sexual act becomes important, not as an act of love, but an act of fertility. You stop thinking, How can I please my spouse? But you keep thinking, Will this time produce a child or not? Look at the relationship between Elkanah and Hannah (1 Sam 1:7-8), between Sarah and Abraham (Gen 16:1-6), and between Rachel and Jacob (Gen 30:1-2). In all cases, the wife‘s bitterness against her infertility was a little fox ruining their relationship, wasn‘t it? In each case, it motivated the couple to respond wrongly by bringing another woman into the marriage, which only added more serious foxes, worse problems.
In order to catch the fox of infertility, you must change your thinking from what you deeply desire to what God deeply desires to do through you. What is God‘s purpose for allowing your barrenness right now? Is it so that you can devote your life more completely to ministry? So that you can spend more time and effort in prayer? Perhaps. But there is another possibility. Look at the world from God‘s loving point of view. What does He hear and see? Please read Psalm 68:6
There are millions of orphans in the world who are starving for what you want most to give. One or more of these children may be designed by God for you, just as thoughtfully as one He could have designed in your womb. God hears the cries of the orphans (Ex 22:22-23) and wants to answer those cries with compassion. Perhaps He has prepared you as a special vessel for showing His mercy to these little and big ones (Mt 18:14). Just as God adopted you into His family, He may desire for you to adopt a child into yours. You may have the privilege of portraying for a watching world …God’s type of love one that turns strangers into sons (Gal 4:3-7; Eph 2:13-19).