Since Edric and I will be leaving for Russia with the kids very soon, I’ve been scrambling to end our 2017 – 2018 homeschool year, finish my homeschool book (two years in the making, sigh), prepare for our trip, and fulfill commitments to sponsors and companies that have tapped me to endorse products or services. In the meantime, this has left Edric feeling neglected. Although this sort of convergence of various responsibilities rarely happens, Edric is probably the most affected when I’m in my “zone.” He wants to engage me but I’m not able to set aside the time to sit down and having meaningful conversations with him, which he misses. The problem is, when I’m in my work mode, I can also be curt and emotionally detached.
Edric and I are similar, so he gets where I am coming from, but it doesn’t mean he feels less hurt when I’m too busy to answer a question he asks, or to take a pause from what I’m doing in order to direct my attention towards him. Sometimes, I get annoyed that he makes a big deal out of this because I interpret his response as selfishness. Why can’t he give me my space to do what I believe is productive and important? It’s not like I’m in this zone all year long. It’s seasonal. Very temporary.
Last night, before going to bed, I quickly checked messages on my phone that needed replying to. He preferred that I snuggle with him and reciprocate his attempts to be affectionate with me. While I didn’t mean to ignore him, he felt de-prioritized once again. When I retired, I let my foot rest on his leg, but he pulled away, which I labeled as a gesture of immaturity.
So we went into a discussion at 11:30 PM, after our couples’ night Bible study, about how I had been “changing” as of late. This was his interpretation of my neglectfulness. Feeling like a wrongfully accused person, I challenged him with statements about such as: He was being too demanding. I could do no right in his eyes. He made me feel like such a bad wife. Why did if feel like I had to be the one to adjust to his needs and wants?
Basically, it was a lot of toxic verbal vomit coming out of my mouth at an hour that was way past my normal bedtime. He knew that the climate and the time weren’t conducive to restore our conflict, but I went on and on for a few minutes, judging him as a difficult, hypocritical, and unfair husband. Please don’t copy me, ladies!
At a certain point we became absolutely silent. Edric was probably falling asleep. I tried to wake him up because I felt like there was no closure. “Babe, babe? That’s it? We aren’t going to finish this?!”
There was no answer.
So I lay there for a moment, telling the Lord how upset and irritated I was.
And then there came from Edric’s side of the bed, a sweet, “I love you. Let’s agree to resume this tomorrow. I want you to know that after everything you’ve said, I still love you.”
Suddenly, I really felt like the spouse with the horns in my corner of the ring. He had arrested everything with this “I love you.” What was I to say in return? I choked back an “I love you, too.” It wasn’t how I was expecting to end the battle, but it certainly turned the tide.
Edric’s love had “covered a multitude of sins.”
As Peter 4:8 puts it, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
Troubled by my own lack of love, I struggled to fall asleep, imagining there was an anger demon tormenting me. In fact, at one point in the night when I finally dozed off, I actually had a nightmare about a black shadow with pointy cat ears hovering over my bed, which jolted me back to wakefulness. Edric, on the other hand, continued to sleep soundly, undisturbed. This proves that I was the one with junk in her heart! He was actually at peace, or maybe completely exhausted by my ranting.
When morning came, Edric pulled me to him and hugged me. How could he NOT be upset with me for the mean statements I hurled at him?
Well, he wasn’t. His gesture was a sincere attempt to restore our relationship. So, I relaxed in his arms. Whatever negative emotion I wrestled with the night before seemed to dissipate. All the accusations I had spewed out so venomously at him seemed unfounded and exaggerated. The overriding thought was, I have a husband who genuinely loves me.
We are in the process of resolving what happened. However, I have to address In the meantime, here are the questions I’ve been asking myself…
Why can’t I just love Edric back in the way he wants me to? Why do I put my agendas before him? Will it gravely affect my schedule and my commitments to pause when he wants to spend time with me? Will it really keep me from being productive to set my phone aside and respond to a message about a counseling case or a project thirty minutes later in order to turn towards him and smile like he’s the most important person of my every day? It’s not as if Edric every asks me for FIVE hours of undivided attention. Very often, it’s just fifteen to thirty minutes of connecting when he comes home. Or, it’s a little cuddling and affection before bedtime. Why do I have to be so emotionally stingy with him? Why do I have to interpret his advances as inconsiderate?
The answer to that why is that I have actual horns as a wife. The same ones I imagined on my head before I fell asleep. My mom has a term for this. She calls it “retractable horns.” They emerge when I am being selfish and prideful. For those of you who have read through the articles on my site, you know that these two issues are my primary struggles as a wife and mom…as a person. They are the sins I default to when I’m not seeking to please God with all my heart.
If my marriage to Edric is going to work, I have to put in the effort to prioritize him. Sure, I may not always agree with his manner or the way he expresses his needs. However, I have to choose to love and serve him even when it feels inconvenient to do so.
God let me to this passage this morning…
“Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (John 12:24-25)
What does this mean? Unless I have an attitude of brokenness and humility, there can be no real fruit in my life, no real productivity that counts for eternity. If I elevate myself and my wants so they are most important, above pleasing God and loving others, I will find, in the end, that I cared too much about what was fleeting and passing, to the loss of my very own life.
Whatever does this have to do with my marriage? Brokenness and humility are about dying to oneself. I must bury my selfishness and pride as a wife. It doesn’t make sense in this world to say this. Not in a do-what-makes-you-happy-and-fulfilled kind of era. But my reference shouldn’t be pop culture, prevailing philosophies, or the opinions of others. One verse down from John 12:25, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
My reference is Christ. This cannot be sensible to those who do not believe in him or follow him, but to the Christ-follower, it is insensible to embrace the way of the world over the way of Christ, which is selfless service. In verse 27 and 28, Jesus adds, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father bring glory to your name.”
Jesus was tempted to prioritize himself and his wants. He anticipated the pain he was going to go through, and a part of him realistically thought to ask, “Father, will you save me from this hour?”
I find it comforting that Jesus, my Savior, struggled between wrong desires and holy ones. Unlike me, of course, he never gave in to temptation. He was perfectly holy. Resolute about his purpose and mission, he chose the cross. He sought to bring glory to His Father. It was not about himself.
This is the same mindset that I must embrace as a wife to Edric. Is my marriage going to be a me-marriage or is going to be a God-glorifying marriage?
This is where the real issue lies when I’m confronted by selfishness and pride, when the horns on my head start to appear.
My reminder to myself is this passage: “And as we live live in God, our love grow more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus did in this world.” 1 John 4:17