Is our beloved family dog more important than me?
My husband and I have two children, 12 and 10.
Two years ago we brought a dog into our home – he’s a breed that requires a lot of exercise to stay healthy.
The children love the dog, as do I, but everyone else is away all day and longer if they have after-school sports, and my husband’s working late.
I was diagnosed six months ago with chronic fatigue syndrome. If I do too much one day, I’m bed-ridden for the next two days.
I’m not working, so previously accepted being the caregiver for our dog who must have a two-hour walk/run twice a day.
At my most recent appointment, my doctor said I must give up the dog if I want to get better. I know the children will be devastated.
Though my husband is too fixated on work to be more than indifferent about the dog, he acknowledges that the kids will react badly if we just give it away.
He’s leaving the decision up to me… which makes me the bad guy if I go ahead.
Me or the Dog?
The doctor doesn’t want you exhausting yourself running and walking with the dog.
But I’m sure he didn’t say you can’t hire a dog-walker for two hours twice a day.
There’s also no reason why you can’t use a doggie daycare for a couple of days a week, unless your husband’s earnings can’t add on paying for these helpers.
Otherwise, on weekends, he can also pitch in as an involved Dad - teaching the kids responsibility, while also engaging with them in playing, running and exercising along with the dog.
Also consider seeking dog-share arrangements – i.e. finding a backup home for the dog with another family when yours plans a holiday away or you need a longer break from all dog duties.
However, despite these various aids, YOU are the important family member here, and your health is a priority.
If nothing will help you get better as much as giving up the dog, explain it to your children the best way you can, and choose a loving home eager to have this energetic dog.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who brags she’s “top dog” in earnings/job status compared to her husband (August 3):
“I’m a man who earns more than my wife, but she’s smarter than me. I have no need to feel superior to women, and am enchanted by their capabilities.
“I don't need a woman to pretend to be weak and dependent to make me feel like a man.
“A dear friend once asked me, "Who wears the pants in your family?" I replied, "We both do, my wife doesn't like dresses.”
“According to the letter-writer (who’s uncomfortable when she and her husband are with the boastful woman) the “top-dog” has 1) A serious misinterpretation of marriage: she sees it as a competition, not a collaboration. That could doom the marriage;
2) She must resent it, having bought into the various fantasies of both sexes. She believes a man is the breadwinner, that hers has failed to uphold his end of it, and she'll never let him or anyone else forget it.
“Imagine if, when with other couples, the husband liked to say, "I'm way better at sex than she is."
“Here’s my tweet response to the issue, "What if her children overheard these conversations between Mom and Dad?"
I’m not sure if he’s lying to me. How can I tell?
Unsure and Untrusting
It’s a sad situation to be in, to always be doubting someone.
Yet, apparently, you also have nothing concrete to show that he’s lying.
Unfortunately, many people in your position start snooping – his phone, emails, even going through his drawers.
My advice? Stop! You’ll drive yourself to constant suspicions, and drive him to withdraw from you, since nothing he says convinces you he’s telling the truth.
Even if he IS holding back some facts, this is no way to get it out in the air.
If you fully trust your own instinct, say so. Tell him you need an honest explanation if something’s going on.
BUT, if you’re an easily jealous person who’s insecure about relationships, then you may not be able to sustain this one.
Instead, you’d benefit from counselling and building the confidence to enjoy a future relationship.
Tip of the day:
When a family-based problem is sure to cause unhappiness, seek small solutions first, then build to what works best.