I realise it can cut both ways. I can imagine that, for some couples, the extra financial stress and responsibilities of dog ownership can hurt the relationship.
But my experience has been different. I have found 4 surprising things that improved in my marriage as a result of dog ownership:
- I don’t like to fight with my husband in front of the dogs. Call me crazy. But I feel like they deserve better and I know it stresses them out. So I swallow the waves of irritation and try to resolve the problem peacefully. We all sleep better at night as a result.
- I am much more patient with my husband. I have learnt that, when you love something, be it canine or human, you need to accept it with all it’s quirks. (Note: My husband will use this information against me the next time I nag him about fixing the roof). I have learnt that dogs respond best to rewarding good behaviour and ignoring the bad. Yelling at dogs does not work, and neither does yelling at your spouse. Trust me on this one, I’ve learnt the hard way.
- I am so much less high-maintenance 🙂 At the dog park once, my husband watched, almost in slow motion, as my dog rolled around in poo and then ran over to rub herself against me. I was wearing my favorite dress. He told me I was smelly but he still thought I was beautiful. We laughed all the way to the dog groomer’s that day. Being beautiful to someone who cares about you is more about small moments of shared laughter than how you look.
- My husband and I are very different. We have completely different interests and hobbies. He’s very private and I’m more ‘out there’. He’s a ‘devil’s in the details’ kind of person and I’m more ‘big-picture’. It all balances out in the end. But through the dogs, we now have so many shared activities. A simple, but very bonding, experience with your partner is a long walk with your dog through a lovely park, on a beautiful summer day. You see elderly couples walking their dogs and it’s such a sweet sight.
I will always be grateful that I had the good fortune to meet someone who is equally, if not more, passionate about animals than I am.
How has owning a dog affected your relationships?