Even though our four-legged furballs are often at the center of our homes, hearts, Facebook posts, and beds, they can also be a source of conflict and stress in our relationships. It can be especially difficult if you and your partner have created a canine or feline “blended” family. But even if either of you have rescued a pup or kitten together, you may encounter problems as well.
So, let’s look at the types of disagreements couples might have regarding their pets. We’ve come up with some possible fixes you might try.
One of you feels ignored or hurt when your partner spends much more time with the dog or cat than she does with you. This problem can ramp up in a big way if you’re already feeling a lack of emotional and physical intimacy in your relationship as it is. People can indeed become jealous of their own pets.
What to do: If your relationship with your pet “pre-dates” your relationship with your partner, be sure to include your partner on walks with your dog or snuggling with your cat on the sofa. As most of us would agree, feeling included is one of the quickest fixes to jealousy. Or if you’re the one feeling ignored, suggest that you go on the walk too. Try bonding with the “kids” when she’s not around.
You want to buy only organic, gluten-free food for your canine kid, but your partner says that it’s way too expensive. Or, you think the cat would look great in a $50 Spiderman Halloween costume, but your wife says “no way”. Or on a more serious note, a $10K surgery can save your dog’s life—you say, “we can get a loan,” but your partner says, “no surgery, we need a new roof.” As we know, money issues are one of the main reasons couples divorce, so pet-related financial concerns can become a major area of conflict.
What to do: Financial issues often are about fear and insecurity. So to alleviate those feelings, set up a special fund at the bank for pet-related expenses (as you would a travel or entertainment account, or college fund for the kids). To further assist with veterinary expenses, get pet insurance for the critters. As they age, it’s definitely worth it.
As with disciplining children, pet parents often disagree on the ways of punishing the little ones. Let’s say that you believe in time outs and reasoning with your pup or kitty, but your partner feels like that’s too permissive. Let’s face it, parenting styles can be very different and often lead to relationship discord.
What to do: What is acceptable behavior to you might not be for your partner. So instead of putting so much energy into arguing about your “bad, obnoxious dog,” sit down together and do a search for dog trainers or animal behaviorists in your area and invest in some objective advice.
One of the main complaints surrounding our pets, especially dogs, has to do with them sleeping in the bed. Even with king-size beds, one to three dogs can kill intimacy rather quickly.
What do do: We need our intimate, uninterrupted moments. Pet-free times are essential.
Above all, remember that pets can be fun, but at the same time can be a source of stress and conflict. So know that the best time to add a furry friend to your relationship is when you are in a solid place with adequate finances, time, and love to devote to them.