Pets and Relationships – Make it Mutual

As I stated in my last blog, pets can bring great happiness to a relationship but they can also contribute to some angst. I was introduced to the latter with my cat Wiskers who liked to munch on anything knit. There was a lot of angst in my house as socks, sweaters, afghans and t-shirts began to disappear on a regular basis only to be found later with half the garment missing. Let’s not mention the fuzzy furniture, coughed up hairballs or the times she missed the litter box and deposited by-products of her previous meal on the floor. Surely she felt blessed to be in a household that loved her or she may have had her own share of troubles.

There is some literature that supports the belief that a marriage is happier if there is a pet in a household where both people love and enjoy it. However, the “both” component is crucial because a pet can also divide a couple, especially if the decision to bring that pet into the relationship isn’t shared. There are many things to consider and BOTH individuals should be involved. Some people are really good at making their case when they want something badly enough. But the bottom line is; if you talk someone into something they really don’t want to be a part of, it could come back to haunt you when problems occur down the road. This applies to both having a pet when you enter a dating relationship as well as introducing a pet into an already established one.

First and foremost, consider all the possibilities when you try to combine these two relationships. It is important to consider all the positive and negatives before introducing a pet into your “couplehood.” And a good discussion about who is going to take on which responsibilities of ownership will help fend off at least some potential arguements. “I never said I would do _______,” isn’t fun to negotiate, after the fact. And keep in mind that you can introduce Sunshine to your new love but you can’t make someone love her just because you do. Believe it or not, not all people love having a ferret or iguana around either. And just because you get a thrill out of letting Dracula walk up and down your arm doesn’t mean that your pet tarantula will make your girlfriend tingle all the more for you.

So if you really don’t like pets –period, or you don’t like a certain kind of pet, you need to be honest about this if you intend to move your relationship forward to a future of sharing a household. It isn’t fair to the pet to have to live in a house where it isn’t wanted by someone.

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