Recently, I landed myself in a debate with a friend whether dogs are good to keep a marriage intact or break the eternal bond. Neither of us really won, as both were right with our own point of views. Honestly speaking, it is more a matter of perspective – what is chaos to a fly, is normal for a spider. So, I personally do not believe there is any set argument or definitive answer to this question, but it did make me ponder about the views of other people on this subject matter.
Pets can be an important part of life and, consequently, of a marriage. In fact, a study from the University of Buffalo claims that couples who own a cat or a dog have closer relationships, are more satisfied in marriage respond better to stress than couples who do not. Pets can help to reduce stress between spouses, especially when they are going through a difficult time. A pet’s companionship and affection creates a calming effect in a marriage. Plus, the pet can be a source of entertainment and increased fun in the home.
But on the other hand, another study claims that pet ownership can also cause marital discord. In one poll, 60% of married couples said that pets had created problems in their marriage.
Now, all these are studies by experts. But let’s talk about the practicality and some experiences that I have seen, faced, read and heard personally.
Let me start with the basics, that what marriage actually means to me. And what were my points to my friend regarding in favor of having a dog in marriage. For me, marriage is just not a piece of paper; marriage is a natural continuation of the life and love you already share, except with an explicit promise to share your life, with all its joys and burdens with your partner. It is your commitment and the life you share which gives true value to that piece of paper.
However, these days’ marriages are breaking down at a rapid speed. The reason according to me is, many marriages lack love. They keep on dragging just for the sake of society and children. The trivial issues pile up and ultimately create cracks in the relationship. Neither the husband nor the wife make any attempts to understand what’s going wrong in the marriage. Rather, those trivial matters give rise to resentment, ugly fights, distance, silence, grudges and sorrow. A relationship which is the longest in most of the cases and should be the closest and the happiest as two persons grow old together, share their sorrows and joys, difficult and happy times, raise their children, build a nest, make sacrifices, where two people who should walk together, becomes the unhappiest relation in many cases. This is the most taken for granted relation where sometimes things are assumed, not discussed, the communication channel falters, where boredom and monotony sets in. Marriage should not be a burden or a duty or even an obligation where two people grow out of love and at the end of 3 or 4 decades hold grudges against each other rather than cherishing the long journey. Both the sides need to be communicative and cooperative.
Dogs are like therapists. As there are many emotional support dogs or in general, every dog is an emotional support dog, they help us deal with the stressful times. As you all know, today that I am alive and living is because of my dogs. Spouses, in the house of which the dog is located, communicate more often. This is tried and tested. As silly as it may sound, but spouses communicate more often about who will walk the dog, who will feed the dog when one is at work, etc. Such silly questions many a times also breaks the ice and infact break a fight or silence and help couples to go on with the routine with less stress.
Getting a dog together or having a pet, beyond the wonderfulness that comes along, caring for and nurturing it, brings in a lot of attachment and sensitivity also. It also helps you stay healthy physically and mentally, which in turns brings a lot calmer mind and more resistance to deal with fights and arguments. Going to the gym or yoga is an option always available, but walking a dog, even in crappy weather or busy schedule is mandatory. You become organized and have more tolerance towards sickness. You understand what unconditional love is, what friendship is, what responsibility is, which brings in more balance to your marriage. You don’t fight in front of your dog as you know it will scare them. You mend ways with your partner in a more understanding manner as we all know that a relationship sees its own share of tricky issues. But owing a dog means, even at 3am you wake up from deep sleep to clean the carpet searching for a carpet cleaner or taking your dog out for an emergency poop. Which means, getting through life challenges together, and you’ll feel equipped for whatever else life will eventually toss your way. In short – teamwork. It is also a first step to starting a family or having children, because, you are already well prepared J A dog will also keep you company when your partner is travelling or away for long hours at work.
Effectively, these are some of the traits I feel a dog helps keeping a marriage lively and loving. But my friend thought otherwise. He said that, a dog is a bigger responsibility. There is less “me time”, less immediate cash flow, medical bills are high, you are limited to socializing as you have a fixed schedule because of the dog, the day cares are expensive, etc. He also emphasized on the fact that many pet owners allow their pets to sleep on the bed with them, which is the biggest issue as there is less intimate time and the other less pet loving spouse feels they are in completion for attention with the dog from their partner. This has led to the biggest fights between couples. I cannot say this is completely untrue as I have heard about this before.
But I believe, it is rarely about the pet, and almost always about you. As I mentioned before the reason for marriages crumbling down these days, it has always been personal. But a dog definitely helps in keeping the bond strong. Not just that, but also saves lives. Recently, we had a case where a husband was beating the wife black and blue, the kids were scared to death and crying in the corner, and, the dog interrupted and saved the wife. I had also read about a couple who were getting divorced and the husband had to part ways with the dog and give it to his wife. The wife was so evil and since she knew the husband loved the dog a lot, she took the dog to satisfy her ego and later euthanized him. As I said, its rarely about the animal. These days, young couples or newly married opt to have a dog or a cat instead of having children due to their busy schedules, but at the same time, have a complete family.
Go ahead and get a dog. It not just keeps you fit and healthy, but also makes you a more responsible human being. Whether or not it will save your marriage, but it will definitely expand your perspective in many fields of life and increase years of happiness and love.