“Complement, don’t complicate me.” That’s what Edric said to me at 35,000 feet in the air, on the plane home from Brazil.
I was nagging him about a certain commitment which I was afraid he would de-prioritize when we got sucked into the vortex of our busy lives in Manila. He didn’t appreciate my attempts at “helping” him. Apparently he had already set in motion important details that would affect the commitment in a positive way. I was just jumping in again, eager to MAKE SURE he made the right choices.
This is when I get into trouble relationally with Edric…when I try to MAKE SURE he makes the right choices. My duties have been delineated — keep the home in order, the children are mannered, disciplined and homeschooled, and the monthly expenses are managed well. Focusing on these responsibilities liberates him to give his time and attention to business and ministry. I don’t need to be a hover craft to his decision making.
If he wants my input and insight, he will ask for it. He usually does. Otherwise, I need to let him steer the wheel of this mothership we call our family.
I apologized for nagging and asked, “How can I support you?” That’s when he very tenderly told me, “Babe, I need you. You know that, right? But I need you to complement me, not complicate me.”
A complement is a wife who fills in the gaps and the holes that fall under her responsibility. She is her husband’s strong supporter.
A complicator, on the other hand, looks at her husband’s holes and tries to fill them for him. She also weighs him down with her emotional and spiritual immaturity.
Sometimes being a complement to Edric is manifest in the simple things…like serving him with joyfulness. He told me he felt like crying when my mom cheerfully said to my dad, “It’s my privilege to serve you.”
This happened one morning when we were in Brazil together. My dad asked for fruit from the buffet table, and my mom practically bounced out of her chair with eagerness to get him some. In contrast, I was hoping Edric wouldn’t ask me to get him anything! All I wanted to do was eat my cheese, butter and bread without being interrupted.
Edric could sense this so he told me that afternoon what an impact my mom’s statement had made. “Really?! You felt like crying?!” I asked him. My next thought bubble was, I must be pretty bad in this area!
Apparently, during the trip he felt like I didn’t DELIGHT to serve him, that I would get annoyed when he inconvenienced me with a request.
For example, we were standing in front of Copacobana Palace Hotel waiting for our tour bus when he asked me if I had his granola bar because he wanted to eat a snack. We didn’t get to eat lunch so snacks were the next best thing. (My husband has the fastest metabolism of anyone on earth that I know of. Every two hours he gets hunger pangs.)
“Did you put it in my bag?” I asked.
“Just check your bag.”
“But did you put it in there? Because if you answered that question then I would know whether to check for it or not.”
“If I knew that I put there I wouldn’t ask you.”
I didn’t want to remove my backpack and go through the contents because I had stuffed it full. My breast pump was in there and extra clothes in case it got cold. Having to sift through the contents would be troublesome. But I stuck my hand in anyway when I realized he was getting frustrated with my attitude. I didn’t find the granola bar the first time I tried because I didn’t try very hard.
“It’s not here.”
“Did you put it in here?” I asked again with irritation in my tone.
“Did you check for it well enough?” He replied, equally annoyed.
I was infuriated with our back and forth questioning. My logic was, if you remember that you put your granola bar in my bag then I will trouble myself to thoroughly look for it.
Edric felt hurt. He didn’t understand why I was so reactive. Since he had expressed to me that he was hungry, he thought I would try my best to find the granola bar.
Looking back, the basis for my reactive spirit was silly. Why did I give him such a hard time? Why was I so nasty? I was just thinking of myself and not prioritizing him.
It turned out that the granola bar was in the front pouch of my backpack! Whether he put it there or not is secondary to the fact that he asked me to look for it and I should have done so with a better attitude because I love him.
This is one of several incidences in Brazil that revealed how much I have to improve in the area of serving Edric. One of the best ways I can be a complement to Edric is to serve him with gladness, to consider it “a privilege” as my mom said to my father. It is something he longs for me to do.
So a few nights ago, at 12 AM he was hungry and asked if there was anything he could eat. My initial thought was, Now? Why?! But I remembered how much my service matters to him. He had a long day and he needed me to take care of him.
So I went downstairs, made some grilled cheese sandwiches and took them up to him. His eyes lit up! But I also detected disbelief mixed in with his delight.
Yes this wasn’t a dream. I wanted to apply what I learned about being his complement.
Edric was in heaven with his cheese sandwiches. He was so sweet and grateful. I felt ashamed of myself. Goodness gracious, have I set the bar so low?! Ecstasy over grilled cheese?!
We hung out in bed and he had his tray of food beside him to happily munch on. Since we were jetlagged we did exactly what we shouldn’t have done and watched 3 episodes of Arrow. It was a lot of fun but our bodies were so confused the next day! I woke up close to 10 am, which I never do! Ever!
My mom’s example made me desire to change. I ought to act and behave in a way that captivates Edric’s heart and ministers to him. If I embrace the role of being a complement to him, I will meet his longings and desires so he feels empowered and inspired to be the man God wants him to be.