Do you have a spouse, friend or coworker who is a veracious cat or dog lover? People often describe the relationship with pets in terms of unconditional love, nonjudgmental and even say that their pet understands them. The reality is that pets require a lot of time and attention, are expensive, need special foods and care. They pee in the house, chew doorways, throw up on rugs, stink up the couch or bed and steal food from counter tops. Most of the time we accept their flaws because we love them so much and they depend on us. After all what would that dog’s life be like if we had not saved him?
This article is adapted from an article by Evan Marc Katz and describes 5 ways we are more emotionally available and generous to our pets than our spouses:
1) Say hello to my little friend – We greet our pets in a positive, animated and affectionate way. The tone of our voice becomes higher pitched and our expressions are generally of an excited state. In contrast when greeting our spouse we often sit down our briefcase or purse and start yelling through the house “has anyone fed and watered the dogs”. Sometimes we are the one at home and we barely look up from your iPhone as our spouse or kids enter the room. Is that video of the dog meeting its owner on Facebook really that important?
2) Expectations – If your dog or cat hasn’t destroyed the house, messed on the floor they have met the minimal expectation you put on them. Your expectations of your spouse: perfection, connection, mind reading, non-argumentative and to give you all the power in regard to decision in the house. You also expect them to feel the same way you do on all items, if they disagree it is frustrating, irritating and makes you tired. So you call Fido over and tell him “you love your mamma, don’t you” or you grab the cat and go sit on the couch and watch entertainment tonight.
3) How we hold grudges – You yell when your dog chews the remote and are petting her 15 minutes later. Same goes for disciplining your child. You will hold a grudge on your husband because he called you on some BS, made a bad investment or because he takes a contrarian view in regard to a question you asked him in regard to your work or relationship.
4) Give the benefit of the doubt – you know your dog didn’t have bad intentions when waking you up at in the middle of the night to bark at a squirrel, but you assume that your husband was trying to disrespect you when he made eye contact with the server at the restaurant. In 2016 often being polite is considered flirting. You should know your husbands character and realize that the feeling of insecurity is coming from within or maybe it’s guilt because you have something to hide.
5) Acceptance – the dog sticks its nose in your friends crotch when they arrive, you say, “They just get excited and want to say hello, pet them and they will calm down in 5 minutes”. Meanwhile your friend is getting sexually assaulted by our dogs, often from both ends. On the other hand your husband is a free spirit, has ADD and likes to play golf every now and then. You want to decapitate him because the garage is a mess or because he makes a mess when he cooks you dinner. Just because you have OCD means that the people around have to have it.
When marriages are in trouble, instead of partners turning inward to each other they often turn outward for ways to cope emotionally. This can be an affair, throwing themselves into work or emotionally replacing their spouse with the love of the household pet. I have seen people get so emotionally attached to an animal that they replace all of the relationships in the house for the love of that one animal.They often don’t feel this way and/or fail to recognize that their love and adoration for the animal is excessive when compared to the affection shown to the other household members. After all the dog doesn’t get failing grades, doesn’t stay out after curfew, doesn’t judge, and doesn’t know that your parent’s health is fading.
After all the dog doesn’t get failing grades, doesn’t stay out after curfew, doesn’t judge, and doesn’t know that your parent’s health is fading.
People love and care for pets of every size, shape and disposition. “She’s not aggressive to people just to other dogs, she’s an alpha dog.” “We let them sleep on the bed – it makes me feel warm and they love to cuddle.” Dogs and cats don’t live with the understanding that things are just not working out. Your partner, not so much. It’s hard to feel a consistent emotional connection when your spouse spends 10 minutes in a conversation with your dog and gives you a hard peck on the lips and is off to work. Where you both would sit and cuddle to watch television you find your dog laying between the two of you getting all of the physical attention.
Most people reading this blog will disagree with me and say that they absolutely love their spouse more than their pets. Actions speak louder than words, we all need to look at how you greet our animal’s vs our kids and spouses. Some will say that you treat your romantic partners different because you have more emotionally invested in them, because they’re free-thinking human beings who should know how to be more considerate, because the relationship has more of a give and take. This is all duly noted.
That doesn’t excuse the overall picture here. You are quite likely more forgiving, considerate, patient, emotionally giving, and sane with co-workers, friends and pets than you are with your romantic partners. Something about love brings out the impatient, demanding side and this becomes more apparent years into the relationship. In marriage there will be ups and downs and when it is down you need to turn toward each other and not to an outside source, even if it is a family pet.
Excerpt from Evan Marc Katz: “I have to say that just about the ONLY clients I’ve ever STRUGGLED to help were women who were more in love with animals than they were with men”. Not just “crazy cat ladies”. Dog women – the ones with 4 or 5 of ’em – would much rather hang with their dogs than go on a date.
Excerpt from Evan Marc Katz: “I have to say that just about the ONLY clients I’ve ever STRUGGLED to help were women who were more in love with animals than they were with men”. Not just “crazy cat ladies”. Dog women – the ones with 4 or 5 of ’em – would much rather hang with their dogs than go on a date. To make the emotional connection stronger most women who have a lot of dogs have rescued them from a shelter. This adds another layer of emotional attachment.
Evan makes sense. He explains that when your ideal relationship consists of a furry friend who doesn’t talk back, and is excited to see you every day because you’re the one who provides, food, water, shelter and affection. Comparatively, men can only lose.
He also points out that a dog will never pay the rent, raise your kids, drive you to the doctor, cook you a meal, give you an orgasm, or have any private jokes with you.
This doesn’t apply to all pet lovers or all spouses. This doesn’t apply to just women, I am writing this from a male perspective though. If the shoe fits then wear it and consider taking inventory of your actions (make actual notes) and see if you can make changes to your behavior. Your dog will still love you and the emotional gains from reestablishing connections with the humans in your life are well worth the effort.
Vascularcme is a dog lover and has rescued two himself. He was not an English major and apologizes for any grammatical errors (always are).