Since you are a dog, you will understand where I am coming from. My wife and I are not getting along lately and I am sure that it is because of our dogs. It’s not that she doesn’t love our Pitbulls, Bob and Spike, and our pug, Joe, it’s that she’s obviously jealous of them. I’ll give you an example. Last month, she won a cruise to the Bahamas in a sales contest at her job. I was really proud of her, and she had worked really hard for this. When she told me all about it, I told her how proud and how happy I was for her. I have never held back my feelings for her. She has not had a vacation in a long time, so it would be really good for her. The thing is, Abby, she just assumed that I would be going with her. We have not taken vacations together since we got Joe. He’s a special-needs fur baby, and it would be too hard to leave him behind. We don’t often leave for more than a day, but if we need to, one of us always stays with the dogs. It’s just the way it is. I would not be able to enjoy myself wondering if my boys were OK.
Well, my wife just doesn’t seem to understand. She blew up at me and told me that the dogs were getting in the way of our marriage. Can you believe it? She’s actually jealous of our dogs! I think she’s being ridiculous. She says that I am being selfish and blind. What do you say, Abby?
Tormented in Toronto
I appreciate your dedication to your dogs. Both Mom and Dad love me and my kitties very much, and I know (and have even heard them say) that they would go hungry before they would ever allow us to go without. While I am nowhere near a marriage counsellor, I do see your problem. You do not clearly understand what a marriage really is. Your wife is not jealous; you are just wrong.
I do not know whether I feel insulted or honored that you consulted an actual dog for your situation. Is it because you believe I will automatically agree with you? Do you have a bet with your wife as to what I will answer? My mom says that, even though we do live in Las Vegas, betting is not a good thing. What is going on between you and your wife is not a good thing, either. People believe that pets and people children are the same thing, and in a lot of ways we are. In a lot of ways we are not, but that is a different topic for another letter. For your problem, it would be the same whether you had people children or pet children. In this case, how you are treating your kids and your wife is exactly backwards.
Many very smart people have said that to make strong families, you must understand that certain things come first. Most say that number one is God, number two is the marriage, and THEN comes the children. If you have people children AND pet children, it would be God, your marriage, your children, and THEN your pets. Even though I am considered a pet, I am OK with this hierarchy because it benefits everyone in it. If your faith is weak, your entire life will be weak. If your marriage is failing, then all of your other relationships will fail.
When Mom and Dad go away on vacation, they first find out if there is any way that they can bring me. If they cannot then they go without me — together. While I miss them when they are away, I usually get to spend some fun time with one of my friends, like Auntie Carolyn or the lady with the purple car. I still get to sleep with my cats, I still get to swim in my pool, and I still get all of the food, water, and any medications I may need. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad come back happy and rested, which makes me happy, too.
Children — people or furry — respond to loving and stable environments. By not being a husband to your wife, you only have half of the equation. You are not helping your doggies if your marriage is not strong. Go on the cruise. Bob, Spike, and especially Joe will thank you for it.