Carl woke from an evening snooze and looked over at the sofa. There, sleeping on his section of what had always been his spot, was the male dog that had made his way into his home and into his owners’ hearts. At first, Carl just stared at the slumbering animal. But then for no reason he jumped down off his father’s lap and went over to the edge of the couch and placed his head level with the pooch.
What happened next was shocking. Carl raised his leg and begun to urinate on the side of the couch. Why had our dog acted in such an inappropriate manner? Was he having to adjust to his new normal?
New normals. They come out of nowhere. Many times with no preparations for how to live through them. A loved one develops Alzheimer’s and family members are faced with decisions that they have never encountered. A spouse dies and the uninvited new normal moves in.
Two thousand years ago, the most impactful new normal was born. The religious community was shaken to their roots by this event. Herod, the political leader of the day was so intimidated by this child that he had all male babies killed. Why would such a powerful man sink to such a wicked state of mind? Could it be that he didn’t want to live with the new normal?
And ever since this child was born, lived, died, and was resurrected, we have had to learn to adjust to the fact that life doesn’t rotate around us. We can try to brush his existence away by staying busy or feeding ourselves off of the world. But in reality, we will all have to face the truth either during this lifetime or the next.
Once my husband saw what Carl was doing, he moved quickly. With a pointing finger and a harsh word, Carl lowered his leg and moved away from the sofa. Overall, the dogs have adapted to their new normal but as we all know, it can get messy at times.
Being married for over 35 years has been a challenge and also a major blessing. As I have grown older and hopefully a little bit wiser, I have learned how to stay content by managing my expectations.
I will never forget the first year of marriage and the psychology class that I took. We were studying behavior management and I decided to experiment on my husband. I placed a chart on the refrigerator where I would place a star beside chores he completed. I will never forget the day our preacher came to visit and having some strong words for me. I never did that again.
When we were married for about seven years, our marriage started to show signs of major decay. We had one child and lots of hostility. I can remember coming home from work and feeling each night would spin through the same cycle. I had worked all day and I felt like I was expected to cook, clean, and get our daughter bathed and put to bed. When I asked my husband to help me, I would become angry if he ignored me or didn’t perform quickly enough.
Expectations haunted my thoughts. I was constantly angry whenever I thought about how much I did and how little I thought he did. Thank goodness, I had developed friendships with some God fearing women. They listened to me talk and then gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. They shared that if I did everything out of love for God and expected nothing from my husband, my marriage would blossom.
Sure enough, over several months of biting my tongue and retraining my thoughts, our marriage showed signs of life. I began expecting nothing from my husband and when he did something to help, I was truly thankful. We moved away from a cycle of arguing and exhibiting the silent treatment to actually enjoying each other once again.
Now it has been 35 years and we have in no way arrived at the perfect marriage. On the other hand, I can’t imagine life without him. He is my soul mate and knows how to please me unconditionally. I am truly thankful that he has been with me as I go through my transitional journey and will be there when I arrive at my next destination.