Sharing the responsibilities of pets can strengthen your relationship.
Before I met my husband, my 24/7 companion was my sweet golden retriever mix named Angie. She went through it all with me — college, living with two long-term boyfriends, three different houses, and all the drama of being in your 20’s.
When I started dating Anthony, the way he treated my dog was a huge determining factor in whether this relationship would progress into something serious. He spoiled her and wanted to include her in our activities as much as possible. The way he doted over Angie was one of the reasons I began to see him as husband material.
Once we were living together and Anthony experienced the bond Angie and I had firsthand, he wanted a dog to call his own. We rescued a freakishly large (seriously, he’s like Clifford) lab mix named Baylor. After a few bumps in the road, he undeniably became the goofy, hairy fourth member to our family.
Having two dogs can be chaotic, messy, and frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being dog parents has changed our relationship, our home life, and how we spend our precious free time. I recommend adding a furry friend to the mix for any couple in a long-term relationship. Here are three ways a dog can positively affect the bond you have with your partner.
You spend more quality time together.
My husband and I always try to carve out special time for each other. But sometimes, a date night can take a back seat to a friend’s birthday party or a late night at work.
One thing we always make time for, however, is a quick walk around the neighborhood with the dogs at least twice a week. It’s a commitment we’ve made as dog parents to keep our important family members happy, healthy, and not too bored.
It also ends up being ten to fifteen minutes of uninterrupted quality time that we get together as a couple. No television or phones — just us, talking about our day and taking advantage of a quiet moment together. These dog walks have led us to important conversations about our future and goals that may not have happened while out to dinner at a loud restaurant, or watching a movie on the couch together.
You connect more to your home life.
My husband is the guy with at least 512 friends, all from different walks of life, and each one important to him in a certain way. When I met him, his social schedule was hectic and exhausting.
Over the years, he’s slowed his schedule down tremendously and he isn’t afraid to say ‘no, thank you’ to an invitation. I don’t think meeting me as a potential wife is what has caused him to want to spend more time at home. More than anything, I think it was the fur babies that have tempted him into more quiet nights at the house.
Their sad little faces when we leave the house for the workday are hard enough to handle, let alone the depressing eyes they give when we leave for the night. Anthony is the biggest softie about leaving them home alone too frequently, and it’s caused him to cut back on his millions of social obligations. As his homebody wife, I’m definitely not complaining!
You bond over newfound responsibilities.
I would never be one to compare having dogs to having kids. I don’t have kids yet and I don’t know how it compares, so I simply can’t accurately do that. However, I think that anything that involves sharing responsibilities and putting something before yourselves has to sort of be like a warm-up to what it’s like to be parents.
If that’s true, we’ve given ourselves a pat on the back as a couple that was able to divvy up the responsibilities of a dog owner seamlessly. We pick up each other’s slack when needed and work together as a team to make sure the dogs are happy and healthy. It’s been a surprisingly natural transition to parenting the dogs together and sharing the tasks, financial obligations, and decisions.
This transition to our dog parent roles went about semi-effortlessly for us. But for those couples that may struggle to take on these new shared roles of responsibility, it can be an even more important transition.
Discussions about sharing responsibility with the dogs can be a catalyst for important conversations about other possible shared responsibilities, including finances, children, or housework. Sharing dog caretaking responsibilities can give you insight into how you and your partner will work together in the future.
Dogs are fun, cute, and cuddly and I recommend them to any responsible person who has time for one. In a relationship, however, they can be so much more than that. They can bring you more quality time with your partner, a sharing of responsibilities, and connection to building a solid home life together.
Thinking about adding a fur-kid to the life you share with your partner? You’ll learn so much about each other. Head to the pound right now!
Photo: Jenna Michele Photography