Last night I was totally irritated with my wonderful husband, Edric, for being so nit-picky about his evening massage. He asked me to schedule an 8 PM massage for him (which I did). Unfortunately, by 8:15, the therapist had not arrived yet. I thought fifteen minutes was a bearable inconvenience. But the time stretched to 50 minutes and I knew that it was going to be an issue for Edric…especially since we just got back from Singapore where everybody is on time! The therapist didn’t get to our door until 9:50, at which point Edric was like, “Cancel the massage.”
This was very uncomfortable for me to do because previously, when I had followed up with them, the company explained that the therapist had gotten stuck in traffic but she was in our area. They also apologized. So I accepted their apology without hesitation. If Edric wanted to go to bed early, I could get the massage in his place. A foot massage sounded awesome anyway.
But in the bedroom, Edric and I had a discussion about the service of the company and he was insistent that I cancel the massage because of their bad service. I resisted because my perspective was, hey, the person is right at our door. Maybe we can extend grace and hire them anyway. I made all kinds of comments which were unnecessary like, “What would Jesus do? What about being forgiving? What about the times that our organization has poor customer service? How would we want to be treated? Yakkity-yakkity-yak. Edric didn’t want to change his mind. So begrudgingly and with intentional gestures of annoyance, I called out to our househelp to cancel the massage.
It was a tense evening as Edric lay on his side of the bed and I worked on my computer. He told me he felt hurt that I didn’t make the massage happen and said, “Goodnight, I love you.” Hurt?! Was it my fault now?! I clung to my frustration longer than I should have and that’s how our night ended.
This morning, when I woke up, I thought about how silly our massage war had been. Sometimes it is these small issues that become the most hideous and divisive. Even though Edric and I don’t yell at each other, we can get really aggravated with one another, mostly due to personality differences. But was it a personality difference that instigated the tension? I realised later on today that there was a greater issue lurking beneath the surface.
Riding in the car together after a meeting, I was surprised when Edric voluntarily asked, “How can I improve?” He listened to me express to him that it is better to err on the side of grace. God is redemptive in nature, not vindictive. And he has shown us much grace so we ought to be dispensers of the same. He acknowledged that he could have been kinder about his response to the massage company.
I also asked how I can improve. Edric articulated to me the hurt he felt. He did not think I showed much effort in trying to remedy the situation or offer a solution that prioritized his needs. When he asked for an 8PM massage, he wanted me to make sure it happened. The company sending the massage therapist too late was one thing but the real issue for him was he felt like I did not serve him or take care of him. He was right, too. Yesterday was a very long and tiring day for him. We got home from Singapore in the morning without a good night’s rest. Right after, he had several tapings for his ANC show and then he came home to a house full of guests because I hosted the playgroup. He enjoyed mingling with everyone but he was exhausted earlier than usual. The only request he asked of me was to have a massage at 8 PM because he was anticipating a very hectic Thursday. He wanted to go to bed by 9 PM. Well, instead of trying my best to serve him, I judged him as unforgiving and ungracious, and didn’t come up with a plan B option.
“You could have said, ‘Hon, the therapist is late, would you like me to call another company but you will have to wait for a bit or maybe I can give you a massage myself?’ and that would have been just fine.” This was the response he wanted to hear from me last night. I started to cry when I realised that I had thought so ill of him. During the Singapore trip, he made it so easy for me with the kids. I hardly had to worry about anything. I felt ashamed for not appreciating him. Edric readily forgave me when I asked for his forgiveness and held my hand to gesticulate that we were okay.
Edric’s language of love is SERVICE. I am capitalizing that word because it matters so much to him that I am happy and willing to serve him, especially at home. He feels very hurt when I act like he is a burden or an inconvenience. This massage war was a humbling reminder that I can miss out on the privilege of being a blessing to Edric when I judge him and make negative conclusions about his character. God put it in my heart to better internalize the verse, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life,” in reference to the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve got a long way to go when I think of this description but I praise God that he continually uses Edric in my life to refine my character!