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His Dog is Causing Marriage Problems
Is your mate's pet coming between the two of you? According to a recent poll, over 60 percent of marriages have experienced problems due to family pets. Even if your pet problem is minor, the daily frustration can cause a lot of tension in your home. But a study from the University of Buffalo also showed that co-owning a pet brings a couple closer so it behooves us to work through any pet complaints. Here is a simple process to help you settle your pet disputes:
Identify the main problem
The first step in managing a pet situation in your relationship is to identify the problem. If you don't like animals, ask yourself why. If he accuses you of not liking his dog, ask yourself why. People don't like something for a reason. The "why" is the problem. Here are the top pet complaints in a marriage:
1. Spends more time and/or money on pet than the kids/me.
2. Does not clean up after pet.
3. Allows pet to destroy property.
4. Pet poses physical danger to family and guests.
5. Pet behaves poorly (incessant barking, chewing, humping)
6. Bad past experience with an animal.
Understand what the pet symbolizes
Like anything else we choose to include in our lives, the pet is a symbol that gives clues to his psyche. The type of animal he chooses is a direct reflection of how he sees himself or wants to see himself. His pet makes him feel good about himself. His need to hang onto his pet, regardless of the difficulty in keeping him, stems from a number of feelings:
Childhood issues. Often, a man chooses to have a pet if he was denied a pet during his childhood. Then, owing this pet is his way of stating his adulthood and ability to live as he chooses.
Compassion, sympathy, stewardship. Defenseless and innocent, animals elicit a sense of compassion and protection from some men. They are the master, benefactor, protector, and hero to their pets. They secretly want to be the same for everyone in their lives, too.
Loyalty. His dog, especially, represents unconditional love and acceptance without any strings. Let's face it, dogs ask little from us. An affectionate pat on the head, a regular meal. They don't criticize us or threaten to traipse off with else who can offer a bigger bone. Dogs are appreciative of whatever we give, however little it may be.
Passive-aggressiveness. Men who are domineered by their wives or who have unresolved resentments towards them can secretly take pleasure in seeing how much aggravation their pets cause their mates.
Don't make it personal
Separate the pet from the problem, and separate you from the complaint. Don't make it a personal issue. Let him know that the solution benefits all, including Rover.
"Look, I love Toby. Urine on the carpet is unsanitary for everyone. He can't seem to help himself so let's figure out what to do to help him."
"It's not that I don't like Rex. He doesn't know he's hurting people, but kids and guests could get seriously injured."
"I know picking up poop every day is not fun, but he needs us to do it for him. Feces pose a health risk for him and not just the humans."
"His chewing is a sign of anxiety. Let's make sure he has plenty of chew toys as well as attention."
"His jumping all over makes people push away, and they don't get to know the sweet side of him. He acts out more because he feels rejected."
State clearly what you want. "I'm not saying I want you to get rid of the dog. I'm saying I want his behavior problems managed."
Hear his unspoken frustration. When he attempts to defend his pet's behaviors, what he really is saying is, "I don't know how to manage his behavior problems."
State the solution and visualize the happy outcome. "Then, I will help you but you have to be on board. We have to do it together. We need to seek the help of a dog behavior specialist. With training, he could be a happy, well-adjusted pet, and we can have a happier home."
Express that his pet will benefit."Dogs/cats/etc. behave this way when they are feeling stressed and unhappy. When he understands the expectations, he will feel at ease around here without everyone getting upset towards him."
Ask about unspoken feelings. "This is not about the dog anymore. It is about how you don't seem to care that this is causing me a great deal of distress. Is there something you need to tell me directly? Are you mad at me?"
Agree to be part of the solution and offer to consult professional help. It isn't as expensive as one might think to enlist the services of an animal rehabilitator or trainer. Ask your local ASPCA for recommendations. Follow through with the training exercises. Repetition and practice are essential for Rover to understand what is expected.
Love him, love his dog
His pet will give you fewer problems if he knows you genuinely like him, too. So begin by showing a lot of affection, offer treats, and walk him. The more pleasure he associates with you, the more likely he will mind you when you state a command.
Working toward a solution is important for your relationship because how you manage pet problems often is indicative of how you will deal with other relationship issues. Is there an effort to understand? Does one partner make everything a personal attack? Do you find mutually beneficial solutions? Or are there threats of divorce?
Before issuing ultimatums, you should know that most people feel so bonded with their pet that forcing them to give it up is likened to pressuring them to give up a child. True animal lovers will understand this. Most animal owners will say that they'll give up a boyfriend or girlfriend before their pets. In the case of married couples, some will divorce while the others may relinquish their pets only to harbor deep resentment for the rest of their relationship.
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