A Daily Log Sheet Was Attached To The Animal Room Are Pet Conflicts Putting Strain on Your Relationship?

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Are Pet Conflicts Putting Strain on Your Relationship?

Just like children, having pets brings a lot of joy to a family. Unfortunately, just like having children, pets can bring new elements of stress. And when pet-related conflicts escalate, it can wreak havoc on your relationship.

One scenario is that a couple enters into a relationship (as many do) with “pre-existing” pets. When you meet someone you want to be with, it’s great if you adore their pets too – but that’s not always the case. Let’s say that Sarah, whose beloved cat she’s had since childhood, meets Joey, who has a dog that he adopted a few years ago after he found her wandering the neighborhood, infested with fleas and owner.

Visiting each other’s apartments, they notice little things about each other’s pets that seem a little disturbing. Sarah’s elderly cat is restless and doesn’t always make it to the litter box. Meanwhile, Joe’s dog keeps chewing on Sarah’s shoes when she visits.

In the intense early stages of a relationship, these may seem like small things. Even though he’s not a cat person anyway, Joe thinks it’s cute that Sarah is so attached to her childhood kitten. Sara laughs that she never liked those shoes to begin with, so maybe the dog did her a favor.

You can see where this is going. If Sarah and Joe get into a serious relationship or even get married, those pets come with the package. And as Sarah loses her fourth pair of shoes to Joey’s dog and Joe finds that the cat has missed the litter box for the hundredth time… well, it’s not as endearing or funny anymore. And as with any tension in a relationship, you’ll need to find a way to address each other’s concerns with respect, honesty, and compromise.

Even when a couple makes a joint decision to adopt a new pet, problems can arise if they have different expectations about how to share caregiving responsibilities, deal with problem behaviors, or even how much money to spend on the pet’s care. domestic.

Couples report common pet disputes include:

  • Who should walk the dog, empty the cat’s litter box, etc.

  • Whether or not the pet should be allowed on the bed/sofa

  • What to do with your pet when traveling

  • What to do when a pet is destroying your furniture or other belongings

  • Jealousy of how much time/interest a partner pays to a pet

I can’t stress enough the importance of spending time before you go to see the cute puppies and kittens at the local animal shelter – to talk about everyone’s expectations of pet ownership. These conversations may not be as fun as staring at the dog in the window together, but setting some ground rules and anticipating potentially awkward scenarios will pay off tenfold down the road.

Other issues, such as pet jealousy, can be much more serious. Say Emily and Jack have a golden retriever that they both love, but Emily begins to feel that Jack is paying almost more attention to Fido than to her. He comes home from work and spends the first five minutes at home snuggling with Fido instead of greeting her with a kiss and asking her about her day. He lets Fido jump between them on the couch when they watch movies.

If Emily expresses her feelings about it and Jack is open to hearing them, they can resolve the situation quite easily. (After all, there’s plenty of room for Fido to sit on the couch without literally getting in between them.) But if their communication skills are poor or the relationship has other unresolved conflicts, Fido might just be a proxy to avoid dealing with deeper problems. Is Jack focusing his attention on Fido to avoid talking to Emily because she always seems to be criticizing him about something? Does Emily feel insecure in the relationship and threatened by everything that takes Jack’s attention away?

If you suspect your pet’s problems are becoming real relationship problems for some reason – either because there may be other issues at play, or you lack healthy conflict resolution skills when it comes to pet ownership and issues other household – talking to a professional couples counselor can really help.

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