It’s the little things, not the big things, that make or break a marriage.

Foxes © Outdoorsman |

When I read Seth’s Resilience and the incredible power of slow change post last fall, I created a stub post with the title above, a link to Seth’s post, and “small foxes verse”.

It seems to me that most marriages are hurt not by the big stuff – deaths, illness, job lost, bankruptcy, and so on, but by the small stuff. Not one small thing, but many, many small things over the months and years. As Seth suggests, we are more aware of the big stuff – and that means we are far more likely to deal with it. The small stuff sneaks by, especially when we’re busy. Each thing seems too minor to matter, and so we let it go, onto the ever-growing pile of things to small to matter. Gradually that pile becomes a problem, often a very big problem. At best it weights the marriage down, keeping it from being as good as it could be; at worst it kills the marriage.

Yesterday I came across an article that seems to say much the same thing. The Newlywed Game Was On to Something: Knowledge About Partner is Key in Relationships discusses research done by Dr. Robert Epstein and student Rachel Smith which shows that knowing our spouse is vital to a healthy marriage. Also important are basic life skills, such as paying bills on time and being able to deal with stress. These were found to be more important than good communication skills.

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” [SS 2:15 ESV]

Foxes, which are small and sneaky, are attracted to the blossoms of grape vines. They destroy the blossoms (meaning no fruit), and in the process can do significant damage to the tender growth on which the vine blossoms. Foxes – small things that often go unnoticed – are like the small problems in our marriages. Let too many foxes get by, and there is no fruit this year – and next year’s harvest is reduced. Likewise in our marriages – let too many little things get by, and the marriage suffers both now and in the future.

By the way – Dr. Epstein has an on-line Love Competency Test that will score seven areas important for a good marriage. Good way to see what needs work.

Image Credit: © Outdoorsman | 

One Comment on “It’s the little things, not the big things, that make or break a marriage.

  1. I mostly agree with what you are saying here, although I don’t think all “small” problems are really small, but just look that way to uninterested observers. That isn’t why I am writing this though.

    I recently heard a very prominent preacher preach on the “secret to a good marriage”. Basically, he was telling us that we should fill in the gap of our expectations with good opinions of our spouse. While I think there is a point there, it fails to realize that these little problems are building up. It may look good while the marriage is still intact, but when the dam suddenly bursts, reality is much different.

    Honestly, it gets a little frustrating that our religious leaders can’t seem to come up with consistent advice on a solid marriage. At least you have a better perspective here.

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