In 2007, I went to see a doctor to get a physical. It was the first time I had been in for a physical as an adult. I’d been to the doctor when there where things wrong that needed treatment, but I’d never been to the doctor to have him do an overall diagnostic of my health. The doctor came in to see me, ask me questions, and order a few tests. When he was about to wrap up our appointment, he looked at me with a little grin and asked me, “Do you want the 95% physical or the 100% physical today?” In my naivete, I asked him what the difference was between the two. After he explained the difference, I quickly responded that I would take the 95% physical. He told me that was fine, but that the next time I came in for a physical it would need to be the 100%. I haven’t been back for a physical since.
It’s probably time for me to go in and see a doctor once again. A physical can catch those issues that don’t have obvious presenting symptoms. If I break my leg tomorrow, of course I’ll go to the doctor. The fact that I can’t walk and that my leg is crooked are going to force my hand. What is going to catch those little illnesses and diseases that build up over time but don’t present in such obvious ways on the outside? More people die from high blood pressure or bad cholesterol then die from broken legs. It’s a check-up with the doctor that is meant to help identify some of those underlying issues so that a treatment plan can be created. I have friends who have had serious illnesses diagnosed at their annual physical and it has saved their lives.
While I’ve been negligent with my physical health, Erika and I have been more attentive to our marital health. We have developed rhythms of checking in each week to see how our marriage is doing, and occasionally, we have done a more complete diagnostic. We just had a chance to get away for a week by ourselves for the purpose of sparking our marriage. Often on vacations in the past, I have just sought to have fun and relax. While Erika and I spent plenty of time having fun and relaxing this last week, we also intentionally dedicated time to growing our relationship. We spent time in the Word of God together, prayed together, watched six hours of marriage videos to spark discussion and planned all kinds of romantic outings. We had a chance to share with each other, care for each other and plan for future growth in our relationship. It was a great week for both of us and for the health of our marriage.
Every married couple has a need to do a check-up to make sure their relationship is healthy and growing. In Song of Solomon, the Beloved says to her Lover,
“Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)
The vineyard represents the relationship between the Lover and the Beloved throughout this poetic book. The foxes are a poetic way to speak about the little problems that can come in and spoil the good fruit of a healthy relationship. They are little foxes, but you must catch them, or the foxes will multiply and become a bigger problem. The little foxes of communication patterns, unfair expectations, unhealthy conflict management and more, need to be diagnosed so that they can be caught and dealt with in a way that leads back to health and flourishing. Every couple needs time dedicated to catching the foxes and watering the vineyard of the relationship.
If you’re in need of a marriage check-up, or just want to spend quality time pursing God together, I want to encourage you to come to the Spark Your Marriage weekend on February 11-12. This will be a great weekend filled with teaching from God’s Word, fun activities, food, opportunities for future growth and more. You can sign up for the weekend right now at friendshipmn.org/spark