Are you a dog person? I am. No offense to cat people. I don’t get it, but bless you for loving those fur-ball hacking, litter box using, snobby puff balls. Haha. Just joking.
But seriously. I’m a dog person. Always have been. I have two of THE CUTEST pups. Bentley and Penelope. They are Shih-poos. Hypoallergenic, house trained, fluffy, adorable, loving, predictable, full of personality - both VERY different, and even better, they don’t shed.
That’s important because this dog lover does not love cleaning up dog hair every day of my life. Now sure, they’re a bit high maintenance (they go to the spa every six weeks like clockwork and eat a very strict and expensive diet). But. They are worth every penny. They’re my babies. I love them. As I should - and as should you love your precious pups.
However. Let me ask you a question and be totally honest. HOW MUCH do you love your fur babies? Immensely? Immeasurably? More than your favorite food? More than your favorite hobby? More than your partner?
Ooops. Back up. In the midst of your nodding did you just affirm you love your dog more than your lover? Is it true? If you’re feeling judged and suddenly shaking your head in opposition, let me ask you, what do your actions say?
Perfect example. When you come home at the end of a long day, who are you happier to see, the pup or the partner? Who do you greet first? What does that greeting look like?
If you’re like me, seeing your pup looks like pure joy on your face. Dropping to your knees. Letting them jump all over you – even in your best dress, licking the make up right off your face – which you would SO never allow to be smudged in any other condition, soaking up all that unconditional love. That unconditional love which goes both ways. That joy of reconnection which goes both ways.
Is it after both you and the pups are sufficiently satisfied with the reunion that you look up and offer a hello to your better half? Is the second greeting as filled with happiness? As much uninterrupted joy? As much unconditional love? Does your face beam? Do you embrace your loved one? Do you kiss them? And I’m not talking about the pathetic peck that barely lasts a millisecond. Do you kiss them with passion and purpose? Making it clear you missed them while you were gone?
Better yet, DID you miss them? Did you think about your partner throughout the day? Were you intentional to connect with them in some way, reassuring they and your relationship is a priority? If the genuine answer to these questions is no, take a moment to let that soak in.
Why is the answer no? Have you placed your relationship on autopilot and fallen trap to a set of norms you never cognitively agreed to and never really wanted? If so, you’re not alone. More than half of relationships fail because couples of all ages, backgrounds, and years together fail to be intentional and consistent with exerting the effort necessary to not only keep their relationship alive, but to allow it to thrive.
As a couples therapy specialist, I see it all the time. Unions fraught with disconnection, discord, disrespect. Couples living in misery, fallen victim to the Roommate Epidemic in which they continue residing under the same roof, maybe even sleeping in the same bed, but feeling like business partners, acquaintances, or even worse, strangers.
The good news for the couples sitting on my couch is that they have recognized the dysfunction and taken action to overcome it by learning new ways to engage, to communicate, to manage their conflict – because trust me, there will be conflict.
Even if you break off this relationship, there will be conflict in the next. Why? Because relationships are tough. Two imperfect people doing life together on a daily basis. Enduring difficult seasons of life. Seeing each other at their worst.
Unfortunately, the unconditional love we feel for our fur babies just doesn’t come as naturally in human relationships. We could venture to guess why, but I think our time would be better utilized with looking at how we can change this for the betterment of our unions.
Well, to be honest, I think we can take a few lessons from our treatment of our pups. If you’ve fallen into a slump in your relationship, vow to take action and make a change. Today. You can do it. Small steps can take your relationship leaps and bounds in the right direction.
Start by greeting your partner with as much enthusiasm as you greet your dog. With the same face beaming with joy and love. Embrace your partner. Kiss them. For more than six seconds. Seriously. Ask how their day was and actually listen to the response. Engage in conversation and connection.
Instead of heading solo for the dog walk, ask your partner to come so you can spend quality time together. Ask what needs they have that you can meet today or this week. Then follow through. Plan a special date night. Then actually go.
Instead of letting the dog sleep in between you, get a dog bed and train the dog to sleep on the floor. Gasp. I know. But guess what? Without the dog there as an excuse not to be intimate, you might just start getting it on again. And THAT does wonders for reconnection.
I’m not saying neglect your pup or love them any less. I’m just saying LOVE YOUR PARTNER MORE.
Make it apparent in your actions. Be intentional. Be consistent. And soon, you will revert from roommates back to lovers. As you should be. It is possible. It is much easier than most realize.
And if you need a little help, don’t be afraid to try couples therapy. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. Even a month or two can make a world of difference.
Invest. In yourself, your partner, and your relationship. You deserve it. You both do. Best of luck!