Sometimes a date seems ruined before it begins. It starts out as a good idea but a number of things go wrong and it’s like, ok this is NOT turning out to be romantic.
On Tuesday evening Edric wanted to take me out. I love going out with my husband on our weekly date nights. And since we had been having some friction lately, this was a particularly important date to have. We needed to talk through some things.
The problem with this particular date was that I did not remember him telling me that we were supposed to leave the house at 5:30. I was coming from a meeting that ended close to 5:30, from at least 30 minutes away. Boo-boo number one.
On my way home, Edric called to talk about the plans the call got dropped, which added to the tension between us. I tried calling him back shortly after but he didn’t answer the phone so I thought he was annoyed at me for being late. I found out after my fourth call that he had been taking a shower.
When I finally got home, Edric drove us to Rockwell where we were going to have dinner and watch a movie. But in the car, one of the first things he asked me was, “Can you edit this for me?” He handed me his IPad which had his CV on the Pages App. “When do you need this done? I asked. “Right now. I need to send it to ABS-CBN before we go out, for my press interviews tomorrow.”
Instead of saying, “sure!,” I complained about having to do it last minute. I said, “Hon, do you know me? Do you understand my personality?” He took this as an insult. (Why was I asking this rhetorical question so disrespectfully? Of course he knows me.)
My point was to emphasize that I really don’t like being asked to do things last minute, especially when it could have been given to me a week earlier. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to edit his CV, I just wanted him to understand why I felt harassed by his request.
He explained that he had been swimming in week-long stress and he wouldn’t be asking me if it was not absolutely necessary. Well, I wasn’t the supportive, life-giving kind of wife I should have been. Sure, editing a CV may not have been the ideal prequel to a romantic dinner, but this was my moment to serve him and I was resistant. Sigh. Why is it always the little, petty things in marriage that get so much prime time? Really, editing a CV shouldnt have been an issue for me, and it shouldn’t have caused hurt between us.
Well that’s how the night began. We entered the mall without holding hands. There was an emotional distance between us. We were like one of those couples who don’t walk side by side…where the guy walks faster and the girl lags behind like a duckling to its mother, only not in a cute way.
Then there was the choice of movie. Judge Dredd. What the?! Don’t watch it. It’s like a 3 out of 10. The number of people in the theater should have been indicative. Personally, I avoid senseless displays of violence in movies…the kind where they use too much ketchup. And there was one split-second sexual scene which made me feel dirty inside. Anyway, it was a poor choice and we both knew it but waited til the end for some redemptive conclusion to make the 90 minutes we spent for worth it.
Oh and we skipped the romantic, sit-down dinner talking part because we watched the 7:00pm showing. (Dinner is often the highlight of our date night because we get to connect.) We had to get some take-out to eat while watching. Edric had his own craving at a place two restaurants away from where I wanted to eat. We ordered take-out dinner in two different places and then met up to go into the theater. Pragmatic. Not romantic.
After the movie, we still felt like there hadn’t been much “healing” between us. We both knew there were some lingering issues that needed to be discussed. But we ended up sleeping early because we had to wake up before 6am the next day for morning prayer time at church.
Wednesday morning, we sat in church, listening to the morning devotional which segued into prayer time. I knew that my heart wasn’t right. I knew I had been selfish. So, I asked the Lord to speak to me. The prodding that I got was, “Listen to your husband. When he tells you how to improve, listen. Do not be defensive. Be humble.” My response was, “Okay, Lord. For you. I will do it for you.”
Edric turned to me right after this and said, “I can’t pray. We need to talk. I would like to tell you what’s been bothering me lately.” Okay, here it comes. Be quiet. Be humble. Don’t be defensive. Gentle voice. Gentle voice.
He told me four things I needed to improve on. I took out my IPhone to take notes, like an executive assistant. I didn’t want to forget. Each time he mentioned something, I acknowledged it and said okay…with a gentle voice. As I listened to him, I knew that this was something God wanted me to hear. I DID need to improve in the areas he mentioned. Apparently, the incident which occured the night before (not wanting to edit his CV), was really just a surface issue. There were other more serious issues that I needed to be corrected on.
Afterwards, he asked me how he could improve and I didn’t want to say anything because I felt like it was really me who needed to change. My issues with him were minor. But he volunteered. “I have been selfish and self-focused lately. God has been reminding me to be more understanding and patient towards you.” Oh, this was good stuff! I took notes on that, too. But more for comic relief.
He told me that he loved me and it was very important to him that our relationship was okay, that there was no lingering hurt or unresolved tension between us. And then we both took some time to pray privately. The next day our healing discussions continued… We set aside part of the morning to listen to one another. It was not easy but it was one of those cleansing experiences when you expose your heart with trepidation, not wanting to be vulnerable, but knowing that the honesty is necessary.
I can’t explain the magic of good communication in marriage. But, after that conversation, I felt a renewed attraction and lovey-dovey feeling toward Edric — the kind of connectedness that was missing during our “Dredd”-ful date night. One thing is for sure, we had to lay aside selfishness, and take the suggestions each other gave with humility and a commitment to change.
The Bible says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” (Philippians 2:3-7 NASB)
Selfishness is a persistent enemy. It surfaces unexpectedly or it grows over time. It causes deep hurt. It divides. It can ruin a marriage. It is ugly. But God gives us an example to copy. Be like Christ. He was God but he humbled himself. He gave up his right to be God and took on the form of a servant. He gave his life for us.
When I think about this, I feel very ashamed. I fall very short of this standard. There are days when I don’t feel like thinking of the needs of others over my own needs. I want people to think of my needs, particularly my husband and my kids. In my mind, I think, I serve you all, so what about me?But Christ himself, son of God, didn’t have this entitlement attitude. So neither should I. My attitude should be, “Lord, you gave your life for me. Help me to do the same for others, especially for my husband and children.”
We are bombarded by a world that says, “Get what you deserve and fight for your rights.” Are there times when I deserve to be treated with more kindness by Edric? Yes. Are there times when he deserves more respect from me? Yes. But we have learned that the secret to loving one another is not demanding our “rights” but surrendering those to the Lord and choosing to be controlled by the transforming love of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14 to 15, the apostle Paul says, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
We all need to evaluate our responses and actions towards our spouses, children, and towards others. Are we able to transcend relationship killers like pride and selfishness? If not, then why? Can we honestly say that Christ’s love controls us?