Tuesday, November 23, 2010

True Church Stories - #15

Back when we were pastoring our church in Maryland I was teaching a series on what God says about mental and emotional health and I did a particular message on co-dependency and how God can set us free, if we are in a co-dependent relationship.  I encouraged the people about getting totally free, spiritually, and emotionally and pushing forward for total freedom in their lives.

I never imagined the phone call I would get later in the week, from a stay-at-home Mom in our church.  Her husband was the breadwinner working outside the home full time and she was busy at home caring for the children and the household duties.  Her husband had an old dog, "Bo",  that had been so sick with arthritis among a myriad of other things, that the poor thing could hardly walk anymore, nor could he control where/when he would have an accident.  She was frustrated and had been asking him to please take the dog to the vet, and have him put to sleep, as it was time and nothing more could be done for Bo.  Her husband was just heartbroken over saying goodbye to his pet and up until that point had refused to do so.  So...

She called to inform me that her husband was angry about  my message, and she also wanted to thank me for the message as well as receive further advice on what to do.  Apparently after I taught the session about being set free from co-dependency, she decided to just leave the pee-pee and the doo-doo on the floor whenever Bo would have an accident. If Bo had six accidents during the day, her husband would come home after work to all of these messes.  She instructed her children to hop over or around these messes all over the house.  Her husband was so upset about this (he felt it was her job to clean it up since she was home during the day), he left the messes there.  This had gone on for A WEEK!!!  At the point when she called me, there were dozens of piles of dog mess all throughout the house.  She said, "Pastor Deanna, I've opened all the windows in our home, and I've been spraying air freshener on all the little piles hoping it will make it better.  We can hardly sleep, the smell is so bad."

Then she followed up by saying, "Um......... is THIS what you were referring to in your message about co-dependency???"

Well, not exactly...[sigh]

**  If you were the lady in this story, what would YOU have done if faced with that situation with your husband?  I am going to wait until people reply in the comment thread before I tell  you what I suggested to her.  I think it will be interesting to see people's suggestions to this dilemma and compare notes with what I offered as a suggestion to her.

8 comments:

DaNella Auten said...

Wow. IDK... Hold on? Victory is almost yours? Depends on how stubborn the hubby is... But where is the love and humility in that? Funny thing is my MIL has a dog that is much the same... and her significant other won't let her get rid of it, so I'm waiting with baited breath...

pastorleanne said...

Hmm...being an animal lover myself, this is a hard issue - I totally understand HIS point of view, because I would have a hard time making that decision about my "baby."

But as far as her "solution" to the problem...that is not being free from co-dependency. That is passive-aggressive behavior, and her passive-aggression is creating an unhealthy environment for them to live in. She needs to bite the bullet, clean up the poop and sit down and have a talk with her husband about whether or not his dog is in too much pain to even enjoy life anymore. Her husband is hurting right now - he probably knows deep down what he needs to do, but being a jerk to him and adding to his pain is not going to help him come around!

My guess is, based on her behavior, she doesn't have much experience being frank and honest with her husband, so I would encourage her and give her some tips on HOW to have that conversation wtih him.

(I'll give her a hint: "Get the flippin' dog put to sleep already!" is not the way to go about doing it!)

Ruth said...

I would have continued to clean up the poo/pee to create a safe living environment for the family. I agree that she needed some backbone in telling her husband the reality of the situation.

Sometimes, people need an "either/or" answer. I could not have lived in that situation. If it was "only his" dog, then I would have suggested that she tell her husband that until the dog is taken to the vet, she should move in with family or a hotel. Or move the dog out of the house as in the garage, etc. There are "doggy diapers" which may have worked, too.

Our dog, who died after 15 years, had this problem the last week of her life, due to old age. Knowing that none of us had the heart to put her to sleep, I prayed hard that God would just allow her to die quickly.

Deanna, you just never know what situations God is "meeting" with your words from him. I'm curious to read what you suggested.

Terri Herndon said...

Wow! Do I feel for her, and for Him as well! When we married our spouse they said for better or for worse? This would definitely be in the "worse" column. I do believe that God's way is the best way. He uses so many situations for our good. I have learned in my 19 year marriage that drawing a line in the sand never works. (Seems in this case, it has made it rather smelly!) Ephesians 5 makes it clear. We are to RESPECT our husbands and submit (oh my) to him, and in turn, our husbands are to LOVE us just like Christ loved the church! What a big responsibility for the Husband! This in no way lets him off the hook! I try to remember when my husband and I are at odds, that we are a TEAM. Him and I against the world. So, help him, pray for him while he goes through this process of grief, and letting go. Then ask him for some Doggie Diapers, and a carpet shampoo machine, and a visit from Stanley Steamer! (Do they have those in FL?) And take the dog to the vet, and get him some meds to make him a bit more comfortable in these days ahead. He's been a good "fur baby" for the family I am sure. Off my soapbox now! Love you Deanna! Enjoy the blogs so much!

Melissa said...

Hmmm, in this case I would have to say as a wife and owner of two dogs that I would tell her to put the dog outside during the day with a fenced in yard. So that she would not have to instruct her children to step around it. The health issues of a week of poo and pee is just NASTY!
If she is the primary caregiver of not only the children but also of the dog as this man as suggested since it was "her duty" since she was home to clean up after the dog. Doesn't that make it her dog!? If it does that means she has the executive decision to take it to the vet. That is my thoughts on it. A week of poo....YUCK!!!! Wonder how many times the kids stepped in it! EWE!

Deanna said...

It's been awesome to read all of your insights into this. I was curious as to what others might tell this lady and as I suspected, there are numerous ways this could have gone, with a lot more wisdom than what I had to offer.

As I already mentioned, this was back in MD when we pastored there, almost a decade ago...and this situation is no longer current but what I did at the time was advise the lady that perhaps this was just too much for her husband to handle, and she needed to offer to take the dog to the vet for him. Sometimes we can't emotionally bring ourselves to do something but our spouse does have the strength. I would have never suggested she do this without his full agreement, of course.

Good thoughts - thanks everyone, for reading and commenting.

DaNella Auten said...

So what happened? Did she take the dog in ? Did he let her? Did they ever recover from foo foo land?
Call Me PH, I want the 'rest of the story'.

Deanna said...

Yes they recovered, to my knowledge they are still married. It's been a long time DaNella, I think this was AT LEAST 15 years ago (at another church) and the last I heard they are still married. Bo has since passed on of course.

As to what she decided to do at the time, I am not sure. They worked it out between themselves.