A New Pet in an Established Relationship–Yes or No?

My cousin, Alfred, is married (second) to a wonderful woman, Meg—beautiful, charming, and full of integrity and heart. They live together in a lovely house that she has impeccably, yet comfortably decorated.  During the holiday, her son and grandchildren gifted her a cat – from the pound, hours away from being euthanized. (Notice how I build in the drama.)
 
MEN GROUSE
Alfred is grousing; Meg desperately wants the cat. She asked me, could she keep the cat? Well, it’s sure okay with me, but I’m not exactly the one she should ask.  Or should she ask anyone?  It’s true that decisions affecting both people should be discussed with both people. But it is also true many men (and, I’m sure, some women) never want anything to change. It’s too much work for them to adjust to something different in their life.  But life is filled with change. Maybe it’s a good idea to practice adjusting to change, especially small ones, and good ones. 
 
My husband groused at every pet we ever got and he became the most attached to each one.
 
I finally realized that his grousing was obligatory—as if that’s how men were supposed to act.  I stopped focusing on his claims of discontent and started noticing his enjoyable interaction with our 2 cats.

WOMEN BEHAVE DIFFERNTLY WITH THEIR MAN
My cousin, Meg, is so smart and capable and strong, that seeing her insecure and defensive was surprising.  What I noticed is that Meg really has her own misgivings about having a pet.  Her house is beautiful.  Her home location is not conducive to having an outdoor cat.  Where will she put the litter box?  Will it scratch her furniture?  These are her questions, but she can’t air them with her husband because he will use those uncertainties against her. 
 
MAN TALK
My charming husband suggested to Alfred that he throw the cat out the window. This is how guys talk to each other. Unbelievable. They are one step away from cave men – okay, you’re right, half a step.  Well, this isn’t a story about my hubby; I know his bark is worse than his bite.  The telling part of the story is my cousin’s answer.  He said, “I can’t do that. There’s someone else involved, and she would throw me out the window. That tells me that he knows how important this is to her.  He’s just wired so he can’t go down without having a fight.

COMPLAINING DOES NOT EQUAL POWER
Meg doesn’t understand how much power she has in her relationship, and Alfred doesn’t realize his power either.   She sees his complaining as the power to take her cat away. He sees his complaining as his desperate, last, overtime attempt at a touchdown—could win, but probably won’t.
 
The truth is that pets are a pain in the neck. They are an interruption. They wake you at 4am. They miss the litter box. They scratch something. They also love you, make you laugh, keep you company, make you laugh, give you responsibility, but not too much, and of course, make you laugh.
 
Also, I still think it’s good to practice adjusting to changes in your life. It’s like emotional calisthenics.

LESSONS FOR US ALL
Suggestion #1: Don’t buy pets and art for someone else.
Suggestion #2: Don’t prejudge what should happen.  Give each of you time and space to figure out how you feel. 

HE DIDN’T HAVE TO GROUSE; THEY BOTH AGREED.
In Meg and Alfred’s case, Meg decided she didn’t want the cat in her house even though she loved the cat.  It didn’t fit into her lifestyle.  She just didn’t want to hurt her grandkid’s feelings.  Meg was smart enough to give herself time to think it through. When she subtracted out the emotion, she and her hubby were in agreement. They simply have spent too much time and energy in making their nest their masterpiece to welcome another being into it for longer than the length of a successful party.

Does that make sense to you?  I’d love to hear your comments.

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